To Review Free Movement Regime, Home Ministry Team Visits Indo-Myanmar Border

Intelligence agencies have warned the Home Ministry that mass exodus of the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, following turmoil in the Rakhine province of that country may have an impact on India too.

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To Review Free Movement Regime, Home Ministry Team Visits Indo-Myanmar Border

Rohingya crisis: The Home Ministry team visited several border exit points (Representational photo)


New Delhi:  The Rohingya crisis has forced the Home Ministry to have a relook at the existing bilateral agreement with Myanmar which allows free movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens within 16 kilometres of the border.

Special Secretary (Internal Security) Rina Mittal and Joint Secretary (North East) Satyender Garg visited all four states with free movement regime (FMR) - Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur. The team also visited several border exit points. 

"The group studied the existing system. And what precautions can be taken as recently there have been cases wherein the existing system has been exploited by militants for smuggling arms, drugs and fake Indian currency," revealed a senior officer from the ministry. 

The group also had several meetings with respective state Chief secretaries, DGPs of the state, and also officers of Assam Rifles. 

The step taken by the ministry is being considered important in terms of internal security. Intelligence agencies have warned the Home Ministry that mass exodus of the Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, following turmoil in the Rakhine province of that country may have an impact on India too. 

The Home Ministry has asked the committee to give its report for uniform and effective implementation of free movement regime soon.

It will also prepare standard operating procedures common for all the four states so that terrorists, criminals and contraband are filtered at the border without causing inconvenience to genuine people.

Three months ago, when Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the North East, he had constituted the committee to examine the present rules and regulations adopted by border states for implementation of free movement regime along this border.

According to visa free movement regime people living within 16 km on either side of the border can stay on the other side. 

India shares a 1,643-km-long border with Myanmar. The unique visa free regime has been in place keeping in view the traditional social relations among the border people. It helps genuine people living in close proximity of the border.

"However, it is misused by militants and criminals who smuggle weapons, narcotics, contraband goods and Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN)," the home minister Rajnath Sigh had said. 

The international border with Myanmar is considered to be porous with cross-border movement of insurgents and smuggling of arms and ammunition.


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