Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted an expert committee to examine the rules which allow free movement of people near Indo-Myanmar border. Indian and Myanmarese citizens are permitted free movement within 16 km of the international border, but these rules are widely exploited by militants for smuggling arms, drugs, and fake Indian currency.
The decision to constitute an MHA panel was taken at a meeting of chief ministers of the northeastern states which share a border with Myanmar. This is for the first time that meeting with the state governments has been called to discuss the issues concerning the Myanmar border. The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and chief ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram, and the Home Minister of Nagaland.
The expert committee would be headed by the special secretary (Internal Security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The panel will examine the rules and regulations adopted by the border states for free movement of the people. It has to suggest for uniform and effective implementation of free movement regime in the states which share a porous border with Myanmar
The committee has to come up with standard operating procedures common to all the four states that will provide effective measures to filter out militants, criminals and contraband at the border without causing inconvenience to genuine people.
The panel has to submit its report within three months.
India shares 1,643-km long border with Myanmar that passes through four states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. At present, both Indian and Myanmarese citizens are permitted a visa-free movement regime within 16 km on either side of the border. They are permitted to stay up to 72 hours with valid permits. These rules were kept in place in view of the traditional and social ties among the border people. There are over 240 villages with an estimated population of 2.5 lakh people living within 10 km of the border. However, India’s international border with Myanmar is very porous with cross-border movement of insurgents and smuggling of arms and ammunition being very common.