The Chief Minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh, has called for an urgent initiative to extend the India-Myanmar border fencing by an additional 70 kilometers. This decision comes in the wake of growing concerns regarding illegal immigration and drug smuggling along the porous border shared by Manipur and Myanmar.
Mr. Singh convened a crucial meeting attended by top officials, including the Chief Secretary, representatives from the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the state police, and the Home Department. The discussion focused on strategies to enhance border security and combat the rising challenges posed by unlawful activities near the international boundary.
The “free movement regime,” which permits individuals residing in proximity to both sides of the India-Myanmar border to venture 16 kilometers into each other’s territory without documentation, has been a source of concern. Chief Minister Singh recently urged the central government to reconsider this policy, emphasizing its impact on border security. Security forces stationed at least 14-15 kilometers inside Indian territory face difficulties in curbing illegal immigration due to this regime.
In a post on social media, Chief Minister Singh stated, “Held a meeting with the officials of BRO and deliberated the plan to begin construction of an additional 70 km of border fencing along the Indo-Myanmar border. I was joined by Chief Secretary, DGP and officials from the Home Department.” He underlined the urgency of the situation, stating, “In view of the rise in illegal immigration and drugs smuggling from the neighboring country, safeguarding our porous borders has become an urgent necessity.”
Eastern Manipur shares a 400-kilometer border with Myanmar, of which less than 10 percent is currently fenced. This porous border condition has made the region vulnerable to drug smuggling activities. The total length of the India-Myanmar border is 1,600 kilometers.
Strategic experts suggest that if fencing the entire border proves impractical due to topographical and cost-related constraints, prioritizing key sections with the highest levels of illegal immigrant infiltration could significantly improve border security.
Chief Minister Singh also emphasized the importance of addressing pressing issues in the state, such as tackling the influx of illegal immigrants, providing welfare support to internally displaced people, and combatting large-scale poppy cultivation.
The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), known for its support to the armed forces and infrastructure development projects in India and friendly nations, is expected to play a crucial role in this border fencing initiative. Their projects encompass the construction of roads, bridges, and airfields in challenging environments often avoided by private enterprises due to security or environmental concerns.
The state of Manipur has faced a period of unrest, with over 175 casualties and numerous injuries stemming from ethnic violence that erupted in May. This violence followed a tribal solidarity march in the hill districts in response to the valley-majority Meiteis’ demand for Scheduled Tribes status. As the state gradually returns to normalcy amid sporadic clashes between security forces and miscreants, border security remains a paramount concern.
Sources By Agencies