Northeast chief ministers urge stricter vigil along borders

Monday, February 8, 2010

AGARTALA/SHILLONG/AIZAWL - India’s northeastern states have called for stricter vigil along the international borders they share with Bangladesh and Myanmar and early completion of border fencing to check terrorist movement, infiltration and security threats from across the border.

The chief ministers of northeastern state stressed the importance of tightening security along the borders at the internal security meeting held in New Delhi Sunday.

Only 250 km out of the northeast’s 5,552-km outer perimeter touches India. The remaining 5,302-km represents international boundaries with China (1,080 km), Myanmar (1,643 km), Bhutan (699 km) and Bangladesh (1,880 km).

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said: “The insurgent infrastructure and camps continue to be intact in Bangladesh and need to be immediately dismantled.”

“Arrest of the extremists belonging to other states in Tripura again confirmed the symbiotic nexus between the various insurgent outfits of northeast,” Sarkar said.

Emphasizing the need for completing the border fencing expeditiously, he added: “Floodlighting of the border along the border fencing is very much needed for deriving effective benefits of fencing at the earliest.”

Sarkar has also urged the central government to set up more border outposts and deploy more Border Security Force (BSF) troopers. “Joint operations of BSF and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) are also urgently necessary to deal with terrorism and border menace.”

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in his speech pointed out that the almost unchecked trans-border movement of Indian insurgent groups and the continued existence of their camps in Myanmar posed threats to the internal security of Manipur and other northeastern states.

“It is no secret that most arms and ammunition used against our security forces are smuggled in from Myanmar. It is also known that whenever our army, Assam Rifles and the state police launch operations, the militant groups took shelter in neighbouring areas of Myanmar,” Singh told the meeting.

“Insurgent outfits are also smuggling huge quantities of narcotics like heroin. The proceeds are being used to finance the procurement of sophisticated weapons and maintaining their leaders in foreign countries and their cadres in India.”

Highlighting the positive outcome of the home secretary level talks Jan 19-21 at Yangon, the Manipur chief minister asked the central government to consult Myanmar authorities for ascertaining the dates convenient for the first meeting of the proposed series of meetings between the border liaison officers.

Meghalaya Chief Minister D.D. Lapang suggested the constitution of a “high powered body” to go into the various aspects of fencing on the border and to resolve the problems faced by farmers and villagers residing in border areas.

“In many cases the border fencing had been constructed much beyond the 150 metres from the ‘Zero Line’ and there was apprehension among the bordering villagers that they would not be able to harvest their crop that falls on the other side of the fence,” Lapang said.

“The apprehension of the Indian farmers and villagers are genuine and these need to be solved at the earliest,” Lapang said at the meeting that was also addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and by Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla urged the central government to maintain a strict watch along the international borders with both Myanmar and Bangladesh to ensure internal security.

“Although Mizoram was relatively peaceful with no insurgency, the porous borders - 318 km along Bangladesh and 404 km along Myanmar - were causes for concern,” he said.

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