Bharat-Burma border barbed
We always want to have friendly relations with our neighbors since we believe in the ideal of ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’(world is a family) and its more realistic version Akhand Bharat ( unity of the sub-continent). When the neighbors become unfriendly, we need to take some precautionary measures. We thought that people in the East are benign and friendly. But we were wrong. They are perhaps polluted by the Golden Triangle money or foreign fire-arms and religion.
People in Akhand Bharat have a common cultural strain though they are divided by invaders on religious lines. Despite these interventions, the people in this sub- continent have a common tradition and heritage that is based on accommodative liberalism. The unique cultural tradition of this vast sub-continent is based on mythological unity geo-ethnic fraternity.
The announcement by the Hon. The Home Minister of India that the entire 1,643 km long Bharat-Burma Border shall be fenced (on hybrid model) is welcomed by many. Out of this long border we have completed actual fencing of 11 Km. It is a long way to go. While constructing the walls and fencings the pertinent issue is whether the normal illegal activities will continue?
After the fencing announcement another logical announcement came from the Hon. Amit Shah ji saying that the Free Movement Regime (FMR) between Bharat and Burma is done away with. In order to maintain internal security of the country and also to maintain the demographic structure of North-East states bordering Burma (now Myanmar).
Amit Shah ji said that the MHA has recommended immediate suspension of FMR. In a net post he said it is PM Shri Narendra Modiji’s resolve to secure our borders. MHA has decided that FMR between Bharat and Burma be scrapped to ensure the internal security of the country and to maintain the population structure of NE.
The Ministry of External Affairs where our Yambung Ranjan is also there, is trying to scrap the FMR. In the meantime MHA led by shri Amit Shah ji has made the pleasant announcement that FMR is now suspended. So, there will be no free movement of people on both sides of the border without proper documents i.e. Passport – Visa etc.
The announcement of Border fencing and suspension of FMR is welcome by two Chief Ministers namely the Manipur CM and Arunachal CM. Nagaland CM AND Mizoram CM are not very happy about this announcement. They feel that their people across the border in Burma may be isolated and discarded or ignored. Frankly speaking, they belong to the other country – they are the citizens of Burma even though they may be related to us.
Similarly, we have such relations between Bharat and Pakistan, and Bharat and Bangladesh. Relatives and Families live separately, because they belong to different countries – they have become citizens of different countries.
We have seen such unfortunate scenes in Korea (North Korea and South Korea) . We had experienced it before the Berlin Wall was dismantled. The divide between East Germany and West Germany was well recorded in History.
What I am saying is that Nagas are inhabited both in Bharat and Burma – what can we do? Either they should be in Burma or in Bharat. Only when Burma and Bharat constitutionalize dual citizenship, they can be citizens in both the countries. The same yardstick applies to the Kuki Zo community.
The border between Burma and Bharat covers four states namely Manipur Nagaland, Arunachal and Mizoram. The FMR is a bilateral agreement between the two countries that allow the citizens living along the border to move freely up to 16 km into the other country without visa or passport. Under this regime a citizen of either country can cross over the border and stay up to 2 weeks just by producing a border-pass.
The choice is still open (clandestinely open) – either way. If they want to be Burma citizens, we have no objection. If they want to be Bharat citizens, they must prove that they have been here for many many years.
Nagaland CM says there needs to be a workable formula considering the presence of Nagas in both the countries on both sides of the border. At the same time the Mizoram CM Lalduhoma is not happy about the development though he concedes that he does not have the authority to stop the Centre from taking such a step.
In fact Kuki-Zo-Chin tribes live along the border particularly in Chin State (Burma). Likewise, along the border a sizable Naga population lives in the Sagaing region (Burma). When the FMR was in operation, to and fro movement was allowed – 16 km on both sides.
Can we have such a system along the Indo-Bangladesh border or Indo-Pakistan border? In both cases, close families and relatives live on both sides of the border. We can’t think of FMR along the Pakistan border or Bangladesh border. It is very strange, whoever started this FMR. Golden Triangle money is so powerful.
Now, our Act East Policy towards Burma and ASEAN will be based on passport and visa. Border fencing and suspension of FMR along the Bharat-Burma border is the need of the hour for visa-a-vis national security.
No hard feelings please. Nation comes first. But who will implement it at the ground level?