TODAY -

Weed out the illegal immigrants : Take a look at SoO
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: February 10, 2024 -



One hopes the Chief Minister is not jumping the gun in proclaiming that the decision to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and do away with the Free Movement Regime (FMR) would prove to be a permanent solution to myriad of problems besetting Manipur.

Border fencing and doing away with FMR would certainly go a long way in keeping out illegal immigrants from across the border, but this cannot be the panacea to the present issue besieging the State.

Apparent that New Delhi seems intent on checking incursion from across the border, but how about the illegal immigrants who have already crossed into Manipur and are today laying ancestral claims on religious sites such as Mt Thangjing and Mt Koubru, much less enjoying the benefits of being tagged Scheduled Tribes ?

How about the impunity in which armed militants of the Kuki-Zo group have been targeting villages at the foothills across the State ?

So far New Delhi has not spoken a word about the SoO pact signed with the Kuki-Zo militant groups and this is a case that Imphal should seriously present before the Centre to have another hard, serious look at the pact which has been in force since 2008.

Has Imphal ever put the question of why the SoO pact was inked in the first place with the Kuki militant groups back in 2005, before Manipur came on board in 2008 ?

As some concerned people, people whose line of thinking are assets to Manipur, have put it, why was the SoO pact signed when the Kuki militants were never known to have trained their guns on the security force ?

Their only claim to infamy was imposing taxes and letting their writ run on the National Highways, threatening transporters and drivers and collecting taxes.

Why was such a pact signed with a bunch of highwaymen ?

These are points which Imphal should study seriously and work out a model in such a way that these points can be put across in a manner acceptable in the corridors of power.

At the same time, Imphal should also be aware of the ground reality and the larger objective which led to the signing of the SoO pact.

When these points can be put forward convincingly before New Delhi, then perhaps the State Government may pat itself on the back for having put across the interests of Manipur convincingly.

Let it be very clear. Border fencing and scrapping FMR can only be one part of the steps taken up to check illegal immigration into Manipur.

It is only logical that this should be followed by more steps, such as enforcing the National Register of Citizens with 1951 as the base year.

Identify all those who have entered the territory of Manipur on the sly, mark them out and make sure that they are not treated as legal citizens of the land.

Border fencing and ending FMR can only mean putting in place mechanisms to check further incursion into the land, but it is equally important that those who entered on the sly earlier are identified and marked out.

The very fact that a Kuki gentleman, a certain Paolienlal Haokip, had written back in 2002 in a think tank publication highlighting the plight of Burmese refugees in North East India, including Manipur.

“Burmese refugees in the North Eastern region of India deserve greater attention, and their plight, which is worse than any other refugee situation in India, needs to be addressed with more concern....some 15,000 Konyak Nagas, 20,000 Kukis and 17000-20000 Chin and Reang tribals were driven out into the bordering States of Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram respectively.’

The writer here was referring to 1967 when the Burmese Government under Ne Win launched their Burmanisation programme (Operation Khadawmi).

This was in 1967 and the writer also referred to the democratic uprising in Burma in 1988, which heightened the ‘forcible evacuation’.

All illegal immigrants no doubt and add the incursion into Manipur after the military coup of 2021 and one can have a fair idea of the present situation and why the cry against illegal immigration has reached feverish pitch.

This should also explain the emergence of several new settlements in the Reserved and Protected Forests of Manipur.

This is why the Government of Manipur cannot rest easy with just the plan to fence the border and do away with FMR but also press for some measures to detect those who entered earlier and are today raising claims on the ancestral lands of the indigenous people of Manipur.



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