India ends free border movement with Myanmar, citing security

India ends free border movement with Myanmar, citing security

FILE PHOTO: An Indian national flag flies next to an immigration check post on the India-Myanmar border in Zokhawthar village in Champhai district of India's northeastern state of Mizoram, India, March 16, 2021. (Reuters)
FILE PHOTO: An Indian national flag flies next to an immigration check post on the India-Myanmar border in Zokhawthar village in Champhai district of India's northeastern state of Mizoram, India, March 16, 2021. (Reuters)

India has decided to withdraw the free land movement arrangement with Myanmar, citing rising migration that’s stoking security concerns.

The decision to scrap the free movement regime was “to ensure the internal security of the country and to maintain the demographic structure of India’s North Eastern States bordering Myanmar,” Home Minister Amit Shah said in a post on X. The home ministry has recommended “immediate suspension” of the free movement that was implemented in 2018.

Shah’s remarks come after the country’s foreign ministry issued a statement advising Indians not to travel to the Southeast Asian nation’s Rakhine state due to a “deteriorating” security situation and telecommunications problems. It added that people who are already in the state should leave immediately.

It will immediately impact thousands of people living on the either side of the India-Myanmar border. The two neighbours share an unfenced border of 1,643 kilometre (994 miles) that stretches across India’s four northeastern states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government implemented the free movement regime in 2018 after improvement of the security situation in the north-eastern states. The agreement allowed locals from either side some access across the border.

However, deadly ethnic violence that roiled Manipur state bordering Myanmar since early last year has pushed India to look at making its borders impenetrable. 

Earlier this week, Shah said in a post on X that India has decided to construct a fence and a patrol track all along the Indo-Myanmar border.

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