TODAY -

Understanding call against lifting FMR : Indispensable need for NRC
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: February 03, 2024 -



Certain points should be clear to everyone.

The Free Movement Regime (FMR) was implemented to promote free movement of people across the Indo-Myanmar border and in the process not disturb their daily interactions with people on either side of the international border, promote trading activities and ensure that people with close filial ties do not remain cut off from each other through the border demarcated by the British in the latter part of 1800s.

It however never meant that people from either side can be given the leeway to spread out, cut down trees in the forests to make way for human habitation and set up villages on the sly.

In short the FMR, which has been proposed to be scrapped, never meant that this is to allow setting up new villages, lead to deforestation and give a totally new understanding to the demographic composition of a place or a State like Manipur.

This is precisely the reason why Manipur has raised the demand to update the National Register of Citizens, amid the ongoing clash between the Meiteis and the Kukis.

The voice of concern and opposition to the proposed decision to scrap the FMR by the All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur should be understood and it should be taken along with their stand that the FMR should stay along with the conduct of an NRC in Manipur.

It should also be clear to all that the FMR means easing the movement along the border but not coming into Manipur to lay claim on ‘ancestral land.’

As one of the two indigenous folks of Manipur, the Naga student body will understand the point that has been raised here.

Easing trade and commerce and encouraging cross border contact should not mean giving anyone the license to come, lay claim on a piece of land, clear the forests and hills and set up a village, under a chief.

This is something which should be understood in its correct perspective and the call to conduct an NRC here should be seen and understood in the context of the demographic imbalance in the last many decades and in the capability of any particular community to send their representatives to the Assembly.

This line should be understood in the context of political representations and political equations, which are so important in today’s world.

The voice of concern raised by ANSAM should be understood in its correct perspective and so do too the demand for NRC raised amid the ongoing clash.

It should also be noted that the demand of ANSAM not to scrap the FMR is qualified by the words ‘not in Naga areas’ and this is where it would help for all to look back at the demographic composition of Moreh back in the 1970s or before the ethnic clash of 1992-95.

If even without the Free Movement Regime the demography of a place along the Indo-Myanmar border can change so drastically, one can imagine how the situation could be like if free movement of people across the border is allowed to carry on for decades.

It would help for the Government to study and try to understand the importance of standing against the decision to scrap the FMR and yet back the call for an NRC.

View this against the opposition from some quarters to the call for NRC and things should become more than obvious.

It would also help to get a better understanding of the gun and fire power that has been demonstrated from the evening of May 3, 2023 at Churachandpur and Torbung.

The BJP led Government should go back to the earlier days and study the demographic composition of places like Moreh and understand the call for NRC.

It should also study the border area at Kamjong side to get a better understanding of why the Naga student body has called for the FMR to continue in Naga inhabited areas.

The very fact that the opposition to scrap the FMR came with the rider ‘in Naga areas’ should say so many important things and this is a point Manipur should understand.



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