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Fencing of Indo-Myanmar Border

Context:

The Union Home Minister has recently decided to fence the 1643 kilometer-long Indo-Myanmar border. A patrol track along the border will also be paved to facilitate better surveillance.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar: A Shift in Policy
  2. Indo-Myanmar Border Dynamics: Security and Border Management

Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar: A Shift in Policy

Introduction to FMR:

  • The Free Movement Regime (FMR) is a bilateral agreement between India and Myanmar allowing border tribes to travel up to 16 km inside the other country without a visa.
  • Launched in 2018 as part of the Act East policy, it aimed to promote movement, trade, and cultural exchange among ethnically similar communities along the border.

Historical Context:

  • The boundary demarcated by the British in 1826 divided ethnically similar communities into two nations.
  • FMR intended to address this by enabling free movement without visas, fostering local trade and business.

Current Status:

  • FMR has been defunct since 2020, initially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Post the military coup in Myanmar (2021), and escalating refugee crises, India suspended FMR in September 2022.
  • Concerns arose over unintended consequences, such as illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and gun-running.

New Development:

  • The Indian government has decided to conclude the Free Movement Regime with Myanmar.
  • Initiatives include initiating tenders for an advanced smart fencing system along the entire India-Myanmar border.

Rationale for the Shift:

  • Insurgent groups exploit FMR to conduct attacks on the Indian side and escape to Myanmar.
  • The move aims to curb illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and gold trafficking.
  • In September 2023, Manipur’s Chief Minister advocated winding up FMR to address concerns related to illegal immigration.

Challenges:

  • Potential opposition from states like Nagaland and Mizoram.
  • While acknowledging state concerns, border security and management fall under the Centre’s jurisdiction.

Indo-Myanmar Border Dynamics: Security and Border Management

Border Characteristics:

  • The Indo-Myanmar border spans 1,643 km, with states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram sharing this boundary.
  • The demarcation of 1,472 km out of the total length has been completed, leaving two un-demarcated portions in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Security Concerns:

  • Secessionist Movements:
    • Greater Nagaland movement destabilizes the border, aspiring to include areas from both India and Myanmar.
  • Support to Insurgents and Terrorism:
    • Insurgents in India’s North Eastern states maintain ties with groups in Myanmar, receiving political, economic, logistic, and military support.
    • The porous border facilitates insurgent safe havens.
  • Narcotics Smuggling:
    • India’s proximity to the Golden Triangle results in rampant drug trafficking, especially synthetic drugs to and from Myanmar.

Border Management Measures:

  • Security Forces:
    • The Assam Rifles, known as “Friends of the North East People,” is deployed along the Indo-Myanmar border.
  • Modern Surveillance and Security Tools:
    • Deployment of modern weapons and equipment like UAVs, BFSRs, and Laser Range Finders for effective border security.
  • Border Fencing:
    • Initiatives to fence the border to curb infiltration, smuggling, and illegal activities.
  • Comprehensive Border Infrastructure Project:
    • Undertaking a comprehensive project to enhance infrastructure along the India-Myanmar border.
  • Integrated Check Posts (ICPs):
    • Setting up ICPs at major entry points on land borders for streamlined cross-border movements.
  • Border Area Development Programme (BADP):
    • MHA’s developmental initiatives under BADP contribute to a holistic approach to border management.

-Source: The Hindu, All India Radio


February 2024
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