Imphal, Feb 9: In violence ravaged Manipur, Chief Minister N Biren Singh has welcomed the Centre’s decision to scrap India’s Free Movement Regime (FMR) agreement. However, several tribal civil bodies are miffed and have vehemently opposed the decision.
The FMR which was a unique arrangement for decades, allowed people living close to the 1,643 km India-Myanmar border to travel up to 16 km inside each other’s territory without a visa. The agreement was further upgraded into a centre’s policy in 2018 when it was made part of the Narendra Modi government’s Act East Policy to encourage people-to-people contact.
“The whole stretch of the border from Arunachal to Mizoram will be fenced, but I think from time to time adjustment may come after discussion with people residing at the borders,” remarked Chief Minister Biren Singh.
Here are reactions and views from different tribal bodies:
“The population at the border on both sides are the same people, they have been visiting each other in terms of marriages or deaths etc. Now they will be cut off from all ties. Govt is acting against its own Act East Policy,” said Rose Ngaihte, Spokesperson, Zomi Council Steering Committee ( ZCSC).
“The people at the border will face a lot of hardship, especially people who belong to the same family, same tribal, same clan so with this removal of FMR they cannot visit each other and this FMR is in the congruence of Article 36 of UN declaration of rights of indigenous people to give chance to people with linkages on either side of the border,” opined Goerge Munluo, Legal Adviser United Zou Organisation (UZO).
“Government is acting against its policy, it seems that the whole effort is an appeasement policy of the centre towards the majority community in Manipur,” said Paotingthang Lupheng, Spokesperson, Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM).
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