Reinstate Free movement regime(FMR), Longwa Chief demanded

Reinstate Free movement regime(FMR), Longwa Chief demanded

Kohima: Tonyei Phawang, the Chief Angh (traditional leader) of Nagaland’s Longwa village, made an impassioned appeal against the Indian government’s decision to end the Free Movement System (FMR) and erect a border fence along the India-Myanmar border.
Longwa village, with a population of about 6,000 people, is uniquely situated on the international border, with half of its territory in India and the other half in Myanmar.
This geographical feature has historically allowed the villagers to live under one administration, sharing one church and one ring, despite being spread over two nations.
The FMR allowed tribes living on both sides of the border to travel up to 16 km into each other’s territories without visas or passports, promoting social and cultural ties.
However, on 20 January 2024, India’s Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced plans to build a border fence and dismantle the FMR, citing discussions on the existing agreement with Myanmar.

Phawang vehemently opposed these measures, emphasizing that such actions would disrupt the social and cultural fabric of border communities, particularly in Longwa. He highlighted that the village, which dates back to the 16th century, was divided during a boundary demarcation in 1970-71, a process that was conducted without the full understanding of the local populace. The chief angh stressed that the proposed border fence would forcibly separate families and lands that have been united for centuries.

In light of these developments, Phawang called upon the state government, led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, to oppose the scrapping of the FMR and the construction of the border fence.

He expressed his commitment to fully cooperate with any efforts to address this issue, reflecting the high stakes for the community he represents.

The scrapping of the FMR and the proposed border fencing have sparked significant concern among the Naga tribes and other residents of the border areas, who have enjoyed a relatively peaceful coexistence and interdependence facilitated by the free movement across the Indo-Myanmar border.

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