New Delhi: The Government of India will construct a fence along the entire 1,643 km stretch of India-Myanmar border.
Commenting on the development, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Tuesday, “It has been decided to construct a fence along the entire 1,643 km India-Myanmar border. To facilitate better surveillance, a patrol track along the border will also be paved.”
Shah said the Narendra Modi government is committed to building impenetrable borders.
“Out of the total border length, a 10 km stretch in Moreh, Manipur, has already been fenced. Also, two pilot projects of fencing through a Hybrid Surveillance System (HSS) are under execution. They will fence a stretch of 1 km each in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. Additionally, fence works covering approx 20 km in Manipur have also been approved, the work for which will start soon,” Shah said.
The government has also launched the ‘Vibrant Village’ programme for the border villages of India. An official said that earlier, villages situated in the border areas were considered the last villages of the country, but that perception has changed.
Now, as per the policy of Government of India, these villages are not the last villages but the first villages near the borders.
Prime Minister Modi has already said that when the sun rises in the east, its first ray touches a border village and when the sun sets, the village on this side derives benefit of its last ray.
The latest move is considered significant given the vulnerability and threats of the 1,643 km unfenced India-Myanmar border spanning Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.
In fact, apart from a 10-km stretch in Manipur, the India-Myanmar border through difficult terrains like hills and forests is unfenced. The Indian security forces face a tough time dealing with the challenges resulting from the extremist groups carrying out hit-and-run operations from their hidden bases in the Chin and Sagaing regions of Myanmar.
The inward trafficking of drugs and outward trafficking of wildlife body parts across the borders with Myanmar has also been one of the major concerns for India.
The trigger for the decision to put up fencing is also the conflict that broke out between the majority Meitei and the tribal Kuki-Zo communities in Manipur on May 3, 2023.
Also, over the past decade, the Manipur government has been expressing concern over the “influx” of Myanmar nationals. Amid the violence in Manipur, a few hundred Myanmar nationals were found taking refuge in the state to escape a civil war back home.
In September 2023, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had blamed the ethnic violence on the free movement of Myanmar nationals into India and urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to end the Free Movement Regime (FMR), which had been suspended on April 1, 2020 during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The suspension was extended after the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021.