Activists allege loss of Indian territory

A joint team of officials from the Centre and the Manipur government and representatives of political parties visited the border town of Moreh on Saturday to assess the construction of a fence, reportedly on disputed land. The officials of the Union government were led by S.K. Mishra, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had ordered the suspension of the border fence, following complaints from representatives of 13 political parties in Manipur. The growing demand is that the construction be suspended till an agreement is reached with the Myanmarese government.

Some political parties and NGOs have been saying that since the fence is being constructed deep inside Manipur, as many as 18 villages will be affected. Choro Khunnou in Ukhrul district will go entirely to Myanmar. The Border Roads Organisation has undertaken the construction work under the supervision of Assam Rifles, which is manning the 396-km long border with Myanmar.

There has been a demand to include knowledgeable persons in the fact-finding team. The argument is that the officials of the Border Roads Organisation and the Assam Rifles are not aware of the problems. There have been reports of missing boundary pillars which reappear after some time in Manipur. The shrinking of Manipur’s territory is an officially accepted fact.

The representatives of the political parties were led by Gaikhangam Gangmei, Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur. The representatives were back from Delhi on Friday where they met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde. The officials from Delhi are on a two-day visit.

NGOs have raised a hue and cry over the issue. An activist who wants to remain anonymous told The Hindu that the border fence was constructed on the basis of misleading reports of some officials. The factual position was never made known to the Union government. The fact-finding team should nail the scheming officials who connived in the loss of India’s territory, the activist said. He further said that the statement of the Prime Minister that not a single inch of India’s land shall be compromised was welcome. However, people were not satisfied with the statement as the fence was being constructed in Manipur.

According to reports, huge lands in the Hollenphai village of Manipur, located just two km from the police station at Moreh, have been encroached. The Myanmarese army has constructed a wooden fence in those parts of the village and is not letting the villagers cross it. Reporters who accompanied politicians some days ago were not allowed to take photographs of the village. When police and civilian officials rushed there to point out that the village belonged to Manipur, Myanmarese officials merely said as per the map maintained by the British government, it was in Myanmar.

Some activists of Myanmar tried to submit a memorandum to the visiting officials on the land dispute. However, the officials refused to accept it.