Indo-Myanmar border fencing, Mizoram assembly adopts resolution

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Indo-Myanmar border fencing, Mizoram assembly adopts resolution

Aizawl: The Mizoram assembly on Wednesday adopted an official resolution, opposing the plan to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Myanmar.

The resolution moved by Home Minister K. Sapdanga also urged the Centre not to construct a fence along the international border and scrap the FMR.

It urged the Narendra Modi government to instead take steps to ensure that the Zo ethnic people, who have been divided and scattered in different countries due to the British’s divide-and-rule policy, are unified under one administrative unit.

While moving the resolution, K. Sapdanga said that the Zo ethnic people, who have inhabited Mizoram and the Chin hills for centuries and once lived under their own administration, were geographically divided when the British occupied and separated Myanmar from India.

He said that the British demarcated the Indo-Myanmar border and divided the Zo ethnic people’s land into two.

“The Zo ethnic people can’t accept the Indo-Myanmar border, which was imposed on them by the British. They have been dreaming of reuniting under one administrative unit one day,” the home minister said.

He said that fencing the Indo-Myanmar border or scrapping the FMR, which will mandate the approval of the imposed boundary, is unacceptable for the Zo ethnic people.

Although the Mizoram government is yet to receive official intimation about the Centre’s plan, it is evident from media reports and statements of Union Ministers that the Centre is planning to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and lift the existing FMR with Myanmar, he said.

He alleged that the recent decision by the Centre to construct a fence along the international border and end the FMR was motivated mainly by the demands of the Manipur government.

The idea of fencing the Indo-Myanmar border and lifting the FMR as seen in reports in a section of media stemmed out for some reasons, including national security, smuggling of contraband items, illegal immigration and movement of insurgents, he said.

Sapdanga said that national security can’t be taken as an excuse for fencing the Indo-Myanmar border and lifting the FMR, and if the Centre is so concerned about national security, it should also fence all the international borders that the country shares with neighbouring countries.

It should also abolish the mechanism that India has with Nepal and Bhutan where people of these countries can visit each other’s territory without a visa, he said.

He said that during the peak period of insurgency in the northeastern states, the FMR with Myanmar was never questioned.

Sapdanga said that India may lose a vast area of its land, particularly the fertile land along the Tiau river that separates India and Myanmar as fencing will not be possible in the exact boundary because of its porous nature and terrain.

He said that fencing the international border and lifting the FMR will severely affect people living along the border on either side.

“I urge the Centre to consider the hardships that will be faced by the Zo ethnic people if the Indo-Myanmar border is fenced and the FMR is scrapped,” Sapdanga said.

After a prolonged discussion involving at least 9 members, including chief minister Lalduhoma and opposition leader Lalchhandama Ralte of Mizo National Front (MNF), the assembly unanimously adopted the resolution.

Four Indian states- Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh share a 1,643 km long international border with Myanmar.

Mizoram shares a 510-km long border with Myanmar’s Chin state and the Mizos share ethnic ties with the Chins.

Mizoram civil society organisations and student bodies also strongly opposed the Centre’s decision to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and lift the FMR.

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