The central government has decided to scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced on Thursday.
Announcing the discontinuation of FMR, Amit Shah said the decision was taken to maintain the internal security of the country and the demographic structure of the northeastern states. The announcement is an attempt to avoid the spillover effect of the ongoing Myanmar crisis on India.
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As Myanmar, currently under a military dictatorship, faces rebellion by ethnic armed groups and pro-democracy forces, there has been a significant influx of people from Myanmar to bordering Indian states.
What is the free movement regime between India and Myanmar?
The FMR was born in 2018 as part of India’s Act East policy. Allows cross-border movement up to 16 km without a visa. The agreement was signed to facilitate local border trade, improve access to education and healthcare for border residents, and strengthen diplomatic relations. Under the agreement, people were also allowed to stay up to two weeks in the neighboring country by obtaining a one-year border pass.
Why was the RMF removed?
In a post on
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision is to secure our borders. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided that the Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar be removed to ensure the internal security of the country and maintain the demographic situation. structure of northeast Indian states bordering Myanmar. Since the Ministry of External Affairs is currently in the process of removing it, MHA has recommended immediate suspension of the FMR,” Shah said in the post.
Indian states that share a border with Myanmar
India and Myanmar share a 1,643 kilometer-long porous border shared by several northern Indian states such as Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Currently, all of these states are subject to the FMR.
Manipur shares approximately 390 kilometers of a porous border with Myanmar, of which only about 10 kilometers are fenced so far. Mizoram has a porous border stretching for 510 kilometers with Myanmar. Arunachal Pradesh shares a 520-kilometer border with Myanmar, while Nagaland’s border with the country extends for 215 kilometers.
Fencing of the border between India and Myanmar
Earlier, the Home Minister had announced the fencing of the 1,643 km border between India and Myanmar. Amit Shah also announced the construction of a patrol road along the India-Myanmar border to enhance surveillance capabilities. “Furthermore, fencing works covering approximately 20 kilometers in Manipur have also been approved and the work will begin soon,” Shah said.
“We plan to end the FMR along the Indo-Myanmar border shortly. We aim to install fencing along the entire border, a project that is expected to be completed in the next four and a half years. People who enter must obtain a visa,” said an official aware of the plan that the Ministry of the Interior is preparing.
One of the main reasons behind the elimination of the RMF was to curb “illegal immigration, drug and arms trafficking in the region.”
The situation worsened following the military coup in Myanmar in 2021. Since then, a considerable number of Myanmar’s tribal population crossed into India, particularly Manipur and Mizoram, and stayed there illegally.
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