TODAY -

The missive from Kamjong
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: May 15, 2024 -



The recent missive despatched by MLA Leishiyo Keishing of Naga People's Front (NPF), which is an ally of the BJP-led government, to chief minister N Biren Singh for taking up 'urgent and necessary measures' to either deport the Myanmarese refugees, who have outnumbered the local residents in Kamjong district, or setting up a suitable place to shelter them under strict supervision was very significant in many ways for a lucid understanding of the ethnic conflict that has been going on between the Meetei/Meitei and Kuki-Chin communities in the tiny northeastern Indian state of Manipur since May 3, 2023.

Even though many people readily point their finger at the demand of Meetei/Meitei to be recognised as Scheduled Tribe (ST) as the spark that ignited the ethnic conflict, the heat generated by long years of unchecked and unmonitored influx of immigrants from Myanmar to Manipur either to escape political prosecution or simply in search of greener pastures on the demography of the state is something everyone tends to ignore nonchalantly.

In his letter to the chief minister, the MLA from Phungyar assembly constituency, which is under Kamjong district, may have only alluded to the problem created by the presence of so many Myanmarese nationals taking refuge in the district bordering the war-torn neighbouring country with the outnumbered refugees starting to attack the local residents over 'petty matters' and the limited police personnel deployed in the border area not able to control 'the troublemakers', but the plea of preventing a repeat of 'the history of granting Indian citizenships to immigrants in 1968' has pricked the bubble in which many naysayers including elected, representatives from the Kuki-Chin communities have been trying hard to live in with complete denial of the contributing factor of immigrants and their illegal activities in fuelling the now over one year old ethnic conflict in Manipur.

It is also pertinent to take note of the fact that the MLA from Phungyar assembly constituency has not shied away from pointing out "...Even the local customary law cannot control/bind them because of the foreign customary practices and beliefs of the refugees."

This goes to show that every refugee coming from Myanmar to seek shelter in Manipur do not necessarily share blood ties or fraternal relations with the local people as some people have been insisting upon otherwise when they raised objection to the announcement made by the government of India to fence the entire 1,643 kilometre-long border with Myanmar and reconsider the Free Movement Regime (FMR) that allows people living on either side of the international border to travel up to 16 km inside the other-country without any visa and stay upto two weeks without any restriction.

As the Ministry of Home Affairs had already spelt out that these initiatives have been taken not only to ensure the internal security of the country but also maintain the demographic structure of states bordering with Myanmar, anyone who is objecting to border fencing and scrapping of FMR should understand that the feeling of insecurity being felt by local residents in Kamjong district, who are now outnumbered by Myanmarese refugees, is real and palpable.

Today, it is the local people of Kamjong, and tomorrow the same feeling of insecurity may engulf people living in other districts sharing porous border with Myanmar if it is left unfenced.

So, along with taking up necessary measures for deporting the Myanmarese refugees or setting up a suitable place to shelter them under strict supervision, the government should expedite the process of constructing border fencing and none should blabber over its feasibility if they could not come up with a better option for ensuring internal security of the country and maintaining the demographic structure of the northeastern states.



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