SOP to help movement of locals, raise security at Myanmar border

The government has decided to devise standard operating procedures (SOP) to “facilitate” movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens residing within 16 km of the India-Myanmar border.

The Home Ministry held consultations with Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh — the states bordering Myanmar — to discuss the Free Movement Regime (FMR). The FMR permits tribes residing along the border to travel 16 km across the boundary without visa restrictions.

During the discussion, it was found that states follow different protocols for FMR. “Considering this to be a security threat, we have advised coming up with common SOPs for all four states

The move, officials said, is a measure to upgrade security at the border amid the exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar following turmoil in Rakhine province of that country. According to government estimates, there are nearly 40,000 Rohingya Muslims spread across India.

A senior Home Ministry official said that “parallel discussion” is on with the Ministry of External Affairs and their counterparts in Myanmar to allow Indian nationals living near the border to visit Myanmar for up to 72 hours. While India allows Myanmarese nationals to stay 72 hours without a visa, Myanmar allows the stay of only 24 hours, officials said.

Sources said the meeting with state governments was held after the visit of a committee headed by Special Secretary (Internal Security) Rina Mitra to the four states last month.

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