Govt. gives top priority to country’s security: Jaishankar on fencing of Indo-Myanmar border

External Affairs Minister of India S. Jaishankar on Thursday said the Centre decided to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and end the Free Movement Regime (FMR) because the government gives top priority to the country’s security.

He said this while speaking to reporters after releasing the BJP manifesto in Aizawl.

Thousands of people from Myanmar have taken refuge in various north-eastern states, especially in Mizoram, after fleeing their country following a military coup in February 2021.

“I think the security of our country, security of our states, including Mizoram, require us to take certain precautions. But the precautions that we are taking right now are in response to a certain situation. Even right now our neighbour is going through a very difficult phase. If things were normal in Myanmar, this would not have happened,” Mr. Jaishankar said.

He said that the Centre is very sensitive to the interests of people, traditions, customs and relationships across the border.

“Right now it is important that we take that precaution. So we want people to understand that this is a response to a situation today,” he said while talking about the proposed border fencing and abolition of the FMR.

The Centre in February decided to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and abolish the Free Movement Regime (FRM) between the two countries.

The FMR allows people residing close to the India-Myanmar border to venture 16 km into each other’s territory without visa.

India shares a 1,643-km border with Myanmar and Mizoram, in particular, shares a 510 km border with the neighbouring country.

Mizoram government, civil society organisations and student bodies have strongly opposed the Centre’s decision to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and lift the FMR because they believe that it will “disturb close contact between ethnic communities of the two countries.” The Mizos share ethnic ties with the Chins.

The Mizoram Assembly on February 28 had passed a resolution opposing the Centre’s decision to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and abolish the FMR.

Earlier, Chief Minister Lalduhoma had said that his government has strongly opposed the idea of fencing the international border and scrapping the FMR but the Mizoram government has no authority to oppose the Centre if it goes ahead with its plan.