Imphal, March 4 (IANS) Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh on Friday sought the suspension of fencing along the India-Myanmar border in the state and suggested an all-party delegation should meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others on the issue.
The chief minister stated his view on the last day of the assembly budget session on Friday in reply to a calling attention motion moved by I. Ibohanbi of the Trinamool Congress and Khumukcham Jaikishan of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The two legislators said they were concerned over reports that the border fencing would lead to a loss of at least 1,000 square km of Manipur land, a significant chunk given the fact that the north-east state’s total area is just 22,327 square km.
Ibobi said: “There is no problem in areas covered by 19 boundary pillars. However, there is dispute in areas covered by nine pillars.” He said Manipur will never compromise on its territory.
He said the Surveyor General of India and other officials had conducted a survey in these areas in January and July last year.
Many in Manipur are still sore over India ‘gifting’ away the Kavo Valley, an area rich in forest products and much bigger than Manipur, to erstwhile Burma soon after the Independence.
Tribals settled in border villages recently told reporters and Information Centre of Hill Areas Manipur (ICHAM) representatives that the proposed fence will pass through the middle of their habitations.
In case of Hollenphai village, for example, a larger chunk will go to Myanmar. The Choro Khunnou in Ukhrul district will entirely go to the neighbouring country.
The border fencing was suspended when visiting home ministry officials found it was to be located deep inside Manipur.
ICHAM president M. Rajendro said: “The joint team surveyed the border areas on December 20, 2015. There was no representative of the Manipur government. Most lands covered by the boundary pillars numbered 78 and 79 are being usurped.”
The Assam Rifles, manning India’s border with Myanmar, has been demanding border fencing to check the movement of insurgents, drug traffickers and other undesirable elements who sneak into Manipur from the no-man’s land.