Indian govt weighs measures to separate the good from the bad at Myanmar border
A GOVERNMENT panel set up to study gaps on the India-Myanmar border may suggest not to restrict free movement of Indian and Myanmar citizens within 16 km of the border as allowed before, but will recommend strengthening border security to prevent infiltration.
The move, officials said, is a measure to upgrade security amid the mass exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar, following turmoil in Rakhine State of that country.
The committee headed by special secretary (internal security) Rina Mitra recently visited the four north-eastern states and is expected to submit her recommendation suggesting that Indians going and staying in Myanmar under the bilateral agreement may be allowed to stay for 72 hours, unlike 24 hours at present, said sources.
India allows Myanmar nationals to stay for 72 hours without a visa, said officials.
The Home Ministry is expected to call a meeting later this week with Chief Ministers of Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to discuss the border issue and Free Movement Regime (FMR).
The FMR permits the tribes residing along the border to travel 16 km across the boundary without visas.
The panel headed by Mitra may also suggest a verification of those living in the FMR zone using Aadhaar to rule out misuse by refugees.
“The MHA will provide central forces and urge the states to beef up local police and intelligence for strengthening border security,” said an official.
In 2016, 74 cases of infiltration along the border were reported as compared to 108 in 2015.
At present, Assam Rifles is deployed on the 1,643 km border with Myanmar which has no fences. Reports suggest that persecuted Rohingyas are using the border to sneak into India. According to government estimates, there are nearly 40,000 Rohingyas spread all across India, of whom 11,000 are in Jammu and Kashmir.
The committee was set up by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to examine present rules adopted by the border states following reports of militants exploiting the FMR to smuggle in arms, drugs, and fake Indian currency.
Officials added that the FMR has been in place keeping in view the traditional social relations among border people.
It helps genuine people living in close proximity of the border. “However, it is misused by militants and criminals who smuggle weapons, narcotics, contraband goods and fake Indian currency Notes,” he added.