Border Fence Shakes Trust - Eastern Mirror
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Border Fence Shakes Trust

By The Editorial Team Updated: Feb 20, 2024 11:05 pm

The trust earned by the government of India with various ethnic communities living in areas bordering Myanmar over the years has been shaken when Home Minister Amit Shah announced the Centre’s decision to suspend the “Free Movement Regime (FMR)” as well as to construct a fence along the 1,643-kilometre border with the neighbouring country. It has created a sense of insecurity among the tribal people living in the border area, as is evident from the uproar against the move from various quarters, including insurgency groups, civil society organisations and groups from Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur (tribals including Nagas). The reaction is on expected lines, considering the fact that the Nagas of Nagaland and Manipur, the Mizos of Mizoram and the Kuki-Zo of Manipur share a close bond with their respective communities living on the other side of the border. Knowing the complex situation well, it was the Centre that came up with peace-building measures, including the formulation of the FMR provision and the signing of ceasefire agreements with various insurgency groups, which eventually brought a semblance of peace in the region. Then, amid the ongoing ethnic conflict between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities in Manipur, the government decided to snap the policy it used to defuse decades of tension in the region, especially in Naga areas. Such moves that clearly favour one section of the party involved in the conflict will add more fuel to the fire instead of dousing it. Disrupting the hard-earned peace and sacrificing the rights of communities belonging to other states, especially in Nagaland and Mizoram, at the altar of one community in Manipur is not only unfair but can also prove costly.

India, which boasts of a powerful intelligence agency, should be aware that closing the safety valve – FMR — by not allowing people belonging to the same ethnicity to travel up to 16 kilometres into each other’s territory without any restriction can disturb peace in the region. The reasons pointed out by the government, like drug trafficking and illegal immigration through the porous border, didn’t pop up after the ethnic conflict that erupted on May 3 last year. The Centre should find a feasible means to address these issues without hurting the sentiments of the people. For indigenous communities like the Nagas, constructing a fence based on the boundary that was drawn by the British during the colonial period without the consent of the original settlers will not only divide families but also cut ethnic and cultural ties. It is clear from the Indo-Myanmar boundary that runs right through the middle of Longwa village in Nagaland’s Mon district and the kitchen of its Chief Angh that the governments of India and Myanmar cannot undermine the interest and history of the people based on the colonially drawn boundaries. In fact, the two countries should make an effort to solve the complex border issue left behind by the British through dialogue and mutual understanding. Such a move will go a long way towards resolving the long-standing issue in the region. Breaking the hard-earned trust will help nobody.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Feb 20, 2024 11:05:38 pm
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