February 9, 2024
NEW DELHI – The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday announced its decision to scrap the Free Movement Regime between India and Myanmar to ensure the internal security of the country and to maintain the demographic structure of India’s north eastern states bordering Myanmar.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in a social media post, said, “It is Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji’s resolve to secure our borders, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided that the Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar be scrapped to ensure the internal security of the country and to maintain the demographic structure of India’s North Eastern States bordering Myanmar. Since the Ministry of External Affairs is currently in the process of scrapping it, the MHA has recommended the immediate suspension of the FMR.”
Manipur, which has witnessed ethnic clashes since May last year, has been constantly demanding scrapping of the FMR that allows citizens on both sides of the India-Myanmar international border to travel up to 16 km into the other country without any travel document.
The FMR has been attributed as a factor of illegal immigration in the state as it enables individuals to cross over from Myanmar and allegedly acquire Indian citizenship through fraudulent means and to avail benefits that are meant for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) of Manipur under the Indian constitution.
India shares a 1,643-km long border with Myanmar. Four northeast states — Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal — share international borders with the neighbouring country. While Manipur shares a 398-km long border with Myanmar, Mizoram shares 510 km, Nagaland 215 km and Arunachal Pradesh 520 km.
Along with illegal immigration, these porous borders and the FMR also pose a threat to illegal activities like smuggling of various contraband items from Myanmar to India.