TODAY -

Not enough to rest assured anyone
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: February 08, 2024 -



IF the reaffirmation of government of India's stand "to build impenetrable borders' is what Chief Minister N Biren Singh was trying to convey to the people of strife-torn Manipur when he took to X and tweeted "Rest assured, the Government of India is set to take some important decisions in the interests of the people of Manipur," then one can definitely rest assured that the over nine-month long ethnic conflict in the tiny northeastern Indian state is not going to be resolved anytime soon.

The tweet of Chief Minister N Biren Singh came last Sunday (February 4) after a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the national capital New Delhi where he was reportedly summoned to discuss issues related to the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur that broke out on May 3 last year after some armed Kuki-Chin people clashed with the Meitei/Meetei days after a court ruling related to the latter's demand for recognition as Scheduled Tribe (ST).

Two days after this meeting and the tweet of Chief Minister N Biren Singh, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday wrote on his official X account, "The Modi Government is committed to building impenetrable borders.

It has decided to construct a fence along the entire 1,643-kilometre-long lndo-Myanmar border.

To facilitate better surveillance, a patrol track along the border will also be paved. Out of the total border length, 10 km stretch in Moreh, Manipur has already been fenced.

Furthermore, two pilot projects of fencing through a Hybrid Surveliance System (HSS) are under execution. They will fence a stretch of 1 km each in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Additionally, fence works covering approx. 20 km in Manipur have also been approved, and the work will start soon".

This is not the first time that the Union Home Minister has brought up the matter of fencing along the Indo-Myanmar border this year.

On January 20, he had assured that India's border with Myanmar will be fenced like the Indo-Bangladesh border, and the existing Free Movement Regime (FMR) which allows people residing on either side of the border to venture 16 km into each other's territory without visa would be scrapped.

So, the lengthy post made by the Union Home Minister is essentially a reaffirmation of the Indian Government's stand to construct a fence along the entire 1643-kilometre-long Indo-Myanmar border to facilitate better surveillance, nothing more or nothing less.

It is this fact and the failure of mentioning anything about the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along the Indo-Myanmar border, which the Union Home Minister had assured of scrapping earlier that the "rest assured" effort of Chief Minister N Biren Singh has fell short in trying to convince the people of strife-torn Manipur, who have been expecting some concrete measures to put an end to the over nine-month long violent conflict that led to loss of hundreds of precious human lives, destruction of public as well as private properties and displacement of thousands of families.

Fencing of the long and porous Indo-Myanmar border to stop illegal immigrants and other cross-border crimes like arms smuggling, drug trafficking, and insurgency is something that could not be expected to accomplish overnight.

It is going to take months and years even without the opposition being raised from some quarters.

Of course, securing the Indo-Myanmar border is essential more than ever in view of the rising threat to internal security of India.

But this is a long-term plan that would need meticulous planning and extensive consultation with all stakeholders concerned.

What the people of Manipur who have enduring untold suffering for more than nine months expect from the government of India is an immediate stop to the violence being perpetrated by Kuki militant groups.

Despite being bounded by the agreement of Suspension of Operation (SoO) signed with the Government, Kuki militants have been unleashing a reign of terror in Manipur with support from external forces that are inimical to the interest of the country.

This is a fact that Union Home Minister Amit Shah himself has acknowledged on more than one occasion. We can rest assured anyone on that.



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