A committee on border issues constituted by the Manipur government in the wake of public outcry against the possible loss of Indian territory due to the construction of border fence along Manipur-Myanmar border, is likely to submit its report to the government on Monday.
Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam Gangmei had earlier announced that once the report is received, a Ministerial team will visit the border areas to make an assessment. But this was unlikely to happen.
Reports said that Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has informed the CLP members that the Ministry of External Affairs has written a letter to him not to send the Ministerial team to the border areas. India and Myanmar are having a cordial neighbourly relationship. Besides, there has been the legalised border trade. The two countries have been cooperating in many ways including counteracting the armed movement along the border. At this juncture the proposed visit of the Ministerial team will send a wrong signal to the Myanmarese government, it was pointed out.
Mr. Singh and Mr. Gangmei rightly feel that the NGOs and other activists who have been agitating all these days for the protection of India's territory will not take it kindly if the government fails to send a Ministerial team. Despite objections and demands for the suspension of the construction works of the border fence till a final agreement is reached, the personnel of Border Roads Task Force are carrying on with the construction works under the supervision of Assam Rifles which is manning the border areas.
The official team led by the principal secretary (Home) Suresh Babu had visited the border areas on August 26. Mr. Babu drew flaks when he told reporters that what is being constructed is not border fence but a security fence. Governor Ashwini Kumar also visited the border areas on August 27. He assured that the villagers that he would take up the issue with the appropriate authority.
When the border fence is constructed 18 villages of Manipur will be affected. Choro Khunnou in Ukhrul district will be left out of Manipur. The government has not explained why the border fence or the security fence as the case may be, is passing through almost in the middle of the 18 villages and the other parts of these villages beyond the border fence will be left towards Myanmar.
Meanwhile, six opposition MLAs who had visited the border areas on Sunday have demanded a white paper from the government on the construction of the border fence. The team led by I. Ibohanbi of the Trinamool Congress visited the border villages and interacted with the villages on Saturday. The villagers told them that their land will be usurped. It was reported that the Myanmarese army had started cutting down trees at Holenphai village for the construction of an army camp. However police and civil officials rushed there to object.