TODAY -

Reinstate FMR at Tusom-Somrah sector : UNC
Source: The Sangai Express

Senapati, January 19 2024: The United Naga Council (UNC) has urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to "re-instate the Free Movement Regime (FMR) at Tusom-Somrah Sector along the Indo Myanmar border in Ukhrul district, Manipur, and other impacted Naga areas vis-�-vis halting the approved proposal for construction of Indo-Myanmar border fencing/wall along the borders in Naga areas," reports NNN.

In a memorandum submitted to the Union Home Minister today through the Deputy Commissioner of Senapati district and which was made available to Newmai News Network this evening, the UNC said the Indo-Myanmar borders were delimited and demarcated by two bilateral Agreement between India and Myanmar on March 10, 1967, by dividing many ethnic tribal communities along the artificial/imaginary line drawn without the informed consent of the villagers and thus relegated to the status of ethnic minorities on both sides of the borders.

To address their concerns and enable close interaction amongst these ethnic minorities, India and Myanmar Government established the Free Movement Regime which had been in place since 1970s, with periodic revision, the last being in January 2018 as part of Narendra Modi Government's Act East Policy to safeguard the traditional rights of the largely tribal communities residing along the borders keeping in mind the traditional social relations besides facilitating trade relations between the kindred tribes on both sides.

The FMR permits the tribes residing along the border to travel 16 km on either side of the unfenced boundary without visa restrictions for 72 hours with valid permits issued by the designated authorities on either sides, the UNC memorandum pointed out.

The Naga body also said the scrapping of FMR in recent times at Tusom-Somrah sectors along the Indo-Myanmar border in Ukhrul district "(Naga ancestral domains) and other Naga districts" stretching from north of Moreh town to Nagaland State has severed social and cultural ties during this festive season.

There have been incidents of emergency health issues, educational tour, seasonal livelihood activities, marriages, funerals, cultivation and economic activities, it added.

The UNC further said the Tangkhul Naga, Anal Naga, Moyon Naga and Lamkang Naga who are scattered in few districts of Manipur State have a "sizeable Naga population" in Myanmar's Sagaing region who share robust ethnic ties.

"However, historical border delineations influenced more by political considerations than ethnic bonding during the British colonial era resulted in the dispersion of Naga people across the international boundaries," the Naga body stated.

The UNC said Nagas are not convinced that ending Free Movement Regime will serve any purpose "due to the fact that there is neither a case of smuggling of arms and drugs nor influx of illegal immigrants in Naga areas on both sides" .

UNC added that the approved Indo Myanmar border fencing supposedly framed to be constructed in "Naga dominated areas" measuring about 80 km stretch in Tengnoupal and Chandel districts, Manipur is an apparent violation of international environmental laws such as convention on migratory species which requires migratory routes to be protected.

Fences and walls and other barriers are proliferating along the international borders on a global scale, it also said.

These border fences not only affect people, but can also have unintended but important consequences for wild life, inter alia by curtailing migrations and other movements by fragmenting populations and by causing direct mortality to large carnivores and herbivores, the UNC further said.

The walls are blocking seasonal migrations of large animals, reducing genetic and species diversity and threatening the futures of millions of species that will need to move their domains to keep up with the changing climatic condition salubrious to them, it also stated.

The UNC alleged that the collateral damage being done to the border land communities who inhabit this border land spanning both sides of the artificial line drawn has adversely severed their close knitted social and economic ties from their relatives and thus compelling them to live in isolation of these pockets from the rest of India other than a symbiotic relation.

According to the UNC, the "lop-sided narrative" of the Government of India and the Government of Manipur for ending the FMR and the approved proposals for construction of Indo-Myanmar border fencing/wall along the border in "Naga dominated areas" has displeased many frontier communities.

While attempting to address the influx of illegal immigrants through the porous borders, State and Union Governments may find other mechanism to curb the menace instead of scrapping FMR and construction of wall and fencing, the UNC stated.


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