Foreign coughs on the border
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] day after an official Manipur State team inspected Moreh in the wake of the Myanmar army intrusion in Manipur’s Chandel district, Governor Ashwini Kumar on Tuesday (August 26) visited the border town to take stock of the situation.
Last Thursday, Myanmarese troops crossed the border and had started felling tress to set up a temporary camp at Hollenphai village, 3 km south of Moreh police station, close to international border pillar number 79. They claimed that the village lies within Myanmarese territory.Under the ambitious Look East Policy, the check post has come up at the border town. Moreh, which is inhabited by Meiteis, Kukis, Tamils and Muslims. After inspecting the construction work of the integrated check post at Moreh, the Governor attended a meeting at Moreh Trade Centre where he took part along with various public leaders of Moreh.
Various civil bodies and opposition parties urged the government to cease the border fencing work contending that a large chunk of land in Chandel will fall into Myanmar. Border fencing work should be stopped immediately and the border should be re-surveyed and demarcated properly, they insisted.
Volunteers of All Minority Women Development Society, Moreh; Kuki Women Human Rights’ Organization, Moreh; Manipur Muslim Council, Moreh; Nupi Khunnai Chaokhat Lamjing Lup, Moreh; Hills Tribal Council, Moreh; Meitei Council, Moreh; Tamil Sangam, Moreh; Border Town Chmnber of Commerce, Moreh and Kha-Nongpok Apunba Nupi Lup, Moreh were also present during the meeting.
There is no use of the present border fencing if it is only security fencing and the State Government should clearly identify the actual boundary by setting up a survey team and inspect the border fencing process being carried out. They pointed out that a large chunk of Manipur’s land has been lost to Myanmar on account of the ‘faulty’ border fencing being carried out. If it is allowed to continue, then, half of the total area of Moreh would go to Myanmar. As such, the State Government should carry out a thorough enquiry, they insisted.
After listening to the grievances raised by the public leaders, Governor Dr Ashwini Kumar stated that Moreh is just like an international town. The border dispute along Indo-Myanmar border in some parts of Moreh is known also to the Indian Government. As such, the government would be taking up all necessary steps and solve the problems being faced by the people along the International border.. He also pointed out the need to develop connectivity and telecommunication in Moreh
If it is a security fence to ward off militants and foreigners trying to sneak into Manipur from Myanmar, there is no need to bifurcate almost all the 14 tribal villages. As per the border fencing policy, Choro village in Ukhrul district will be completely left out to Myanmar side.
The Manipur unit of the BJP has alleged that state and Union governments had hatched out a conspiracy to gift away Manipur’s land to Myanmar through the erection of the border fence deep inside Manipur which shares a 398-km border with Myanmar. A senior police officer from Moreh town has suggested maintaining status quo at the boundary line in the Hollenphai area.
All NGOs are demanding suspension of the erection works till a final settlement is brought about. Boundary pillars 81, 82, 89 were “missing” only to reappear some time later deep inside Manipur. With exception to border pillar no 79, the location of all other border pillars is in dispute. It was one of the reasons how Manipur’s territory is whittled away, they contended.
The women’s wing of the opposition Manipur People’s Party (MPP) has threatened to launch intense agitation from September 1 if the government fails to re-survey the disputed India-Myanmar border areas and cease all border-fencing activities. It also sought the involvement of village chiefs of the area in the border-demarcation exercise.
Whatever be the case, it is nuisance enough for China to intrude into Indian Territory in Arunachal, Pakistani troops violating cease-fire on the Western front and even Myanmar chopping trees in a village inside the country in the north-east. What is the Indian Centre going to do about it all besides propagating platitudes and non-violence?