TODAY -

Tourism potentials of border pillars

Free Thinker *

 A border marker at the  Indo-Myanmar border in Moreh as of December 7 2013
A border marker at the Indo-Myanmar border in Moreh as of December 7 2013 :: Pix - Lamdamba Oinam



Big, medium, and small babus keep coming to see the moving boundary pillars at the Indo-Burma border. They came, they saw the agile pillars and went away. Team after team and group after group would come and do the same. Manipur border pillars have become a kind of tourist attraction for many including activists, journos, andpolitical parties .

We may now explore the possibilities oftourism pertaining to the ghostly border pillars. A Member wanted to raise this issue of moving border pillars along the Manipur(Indo)-Burma border in the highest law-making body of the country. Perhaps he was told not to because it is a diplomatic matter vis-a-vis a friendly neighbor and it is also not a recent happening.

I really don't know whether Burma is still a good friendly country; though the Burma border polemic is centuries old, it is a burning issue as the border pillars are still roaming. Some of our natives living along the Indo-Burma border are saying that the border pillars change positions, particularly at night.

Sometimes a pillar suddenly disappears and comes up somewhere. The border pillars have some supernatural powers, they move here and there. The local people did not bother much about these things earlier as these were of no significance to them. Since these pillars are moving towards the Manipur (India) side, citizens are worried - they would become aliens once these pillars crossed over their villages.

We have to ascertain the factual position of these stories at the ground level. The issue of border pillars along the Indo-Burma border became sensitive when the process of border fencing started a few years back.

A kind of panic situation was created, creating confusion for those people who are living on both sides of the pillars simultaneously or alternately or seasonally. We had already made an earnest request to the Competent Authority to look into these enigmatic border pillars. At the same time, the border fencing work along this border is stopped due to strong objections from the people.

The local people allege that the border pillars are shifting towards Manipur (India) resulting in territorial loss. Alleged discrep-ancies are along the border pillar 50 to 100. This line must be re-examined jointly with the concerned neighboring coun-try to clear all doubts. There had been border disputes between Manipur (India) and Burma even during the British Raj.

After Independence, the Boundary Treaty of 1967 was signed between India and Burma (Myanmar) to settle boundary matters. But, there are still certain unsettled areas at the ground level which are perhaps ignored by both New Delhi and Naypyidaw. So, it is necessary to draw the kind attention of both countries to revisit the issue; because it will have far-reaching conse-quences.

Manipur had already lost huge tracts of land because of our own follies. Therefore, it is high time to earnestly urge the Union Government to take up the matter at the diplomatic level with Burma for settling the boundary pills issues, ur-gently and amicably.

Manipur shares an approximately 400 km long border with Burma. Border fencing is required as we are facing a lot of border-related problems, such as drug smuggling, arms run-ning, human trafficking, insurgency, etc. By constructing strong fencing along the border these nefarious activities can be checked. We have almost completed 50 km of fencing along the border.

Since the border is porous anything and everything is coming in and going out. A lot of activities are going on along the border. I am not saying that all these activities are bad and illegitimate. Many of these activities are life-supporting and sustaining. But there should be a bona fide way to continue with all these.

We really know that these activities are seri-ously pursued by thousands of people for earning their livelihood. The workers, small-time smugglers, marginal farm-ers, shopkeepers, auto-cab drivers, and workshop owners -are people struggling for a living. Their cause must be ac-knowledged.

While dealing with the border pillars a robust and revamped border trade may also be worked out, if possible with the present regime. Possibly there are big arms dealers and drug mafia who are taking advantage of these porous borders, and they also mis-use these small timers and traffickers.

The big criminals behind big illegal businesses are not on the spot. They are sitting far away from the border and controlling the dirty business re-motely. So, we need to deal effectively with these elements too. If I talk only about the Manipur-Burma Border I may be called parochial anti-national. So let me blurt out something about the entire border stretch.

It is not practical to construct fencing along the 1650 km long Indo-Burma border. So the unfenced boundary may be kept under drone surveillance. It must be put under constant vigil to check human trafficking, drugs, arms smuggling, etc. It appears that we are giving prime importance to the Radcliffe line and MacMohan line.

We are not at all bothered about the Pemberton line. Have you heard of the Pemberton line? Very few people know about it. Let us collectively endeavor to check the movement of these wandering pillars at the Burma border, once and for all.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on July 26 2022 .



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