Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Panel to review India-Myanmar border dispute
India has sent a committee to its eastern province of Manipur, on the border with Myanmar, to review work on its 10km border fence with its neighbour, following reports that Myanmarese troops made an incursion onto Indian land on 22 August. The soldiers are said to have entered Indian territory through the border town of Moreh and begun felling trees to set up a temporary camp at Holenphai village in Manipur's Chandel district, claiming that the land was rightly theirs and fell within Myanmar's jurisdiction.
The decision to send the committee, headed by Chairman Suresh Babu, was taken during an emergency cabinet meeting convened on Saturday night by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh. The meeting was called after a discussion the same day between the group charged with protecting the border area, the Assam Rifles, and their Myanmar counterpart, achieved little progress. Moreh Governor Ashwini Kumar will also be visiting the area tomorrow to assess the claims of the Myanmar troops, who are currently situated 3km south of Moreh police station and 10m inside the Indian side of the newly erected border demarcation.
Concerns over the border fence fomented into unrest shortly after construction began by the Indian Home Ministry in March 2003, following a joint survey that lasted six months. Protests by the people of Moreh, Chorokhunou and Molchan, which stalled building for a short period, sought to bring to the attention of the authorities the fact that the newly-built fence would bifurcate the indigenous Naga, Chin and Kuki ethnic communities in the area, whose lands straddle the border zone. In light of recent events and comments by Babu, who told journalists that what was being erected was a 'security' fence not a border fence, local groups have threatened once again to demonstrate against construction.
The Indian province of Manipur shares a 398km border with Myanmar. Prior to 2003, the porous border between the two South Asian neighbours was seen as a transit point for drug-trafficking and blamed for the deaths of hundreds of security personnel killed in militancy-related violence.