TODAY -

For normalcy : Moreh as cantonment town

Free Thinker *



Moreh has been a very vibrant commercial town located at the Bharat-Myanmar border on the Bharat side. It is a kind of cosmopolitan town where people belonging to various communities and ethnic groups belonging to different cultures live together and do brisk business in complete harmony.

We may call it a trading centre where Bharat goods and foreign goods (coming from Myanmar) are made available for sale and purchase.

Due to the recent unrest in the State of Manipur, the entire business activity has collapsed in Moreh. As a result of arson and violence, the harmony and tranquillity of Moreh has been seriously disturbed. Most of the inhabitants of the town have left, except the Kuki-Zo community. Even the Tamils who have been maintaining neutrality in the conflict are also threatened and intimidated and most of them have fled the town.

You will find Temples, Gurudwaras, Mosques, and Churches in and around the town. Surprisingly, the Tamil population is appreciably high and it stands at around 5 thousand. It is a good number in a population of about 40,000 or so (as per the 2011 census Moreh had a population of just 16,847).

Kukis, Meiteis, Pangans (Muslims), Nagas, Sikhs, Marwaris, Bengalis, Nepalis, Malayalis, and even Biharis are living in this small town. Tamils play a vital role in the commercial activities of the Town.

They are accepted and appreciated by all as they remain friendly to all communities including the trading partners of Myanmar. This time I am told that they are having a tough time because of the ethnic conflict between the Meiteis and Kukis, who are the major occupants of the town.

Both Bharat rupees and Burmese Kyat are accepted in Moreh. Money exchange is hassle-free, except for the rate. Bharat citizens buy foreign goods that are available at extremely reasonable prices (because of the free market policy of Myanmar) and the Burmese citizens buy Bharat goods and materials that are not easily available in their country from Moreh. For instance, hardware materials and medicines; they also buy machines, cycles, and fuel.

The commercial and business activities of the Town have been in limbo for the last 150 days. Many people have left the town - taking shelter in various parts of the globe. This important commercial border town can’t be left moribund without any business activities.

It must be converted to a Cantonment Town – so that the army can give full protection to the citizens as well as to the commercial activities. Which Army or Forces shall be stationed here may be decided by the competent Authority.

Moreh weather is not very favourable; it is hot and humid during summer; and cold and dry during winter. Summer is quite long and it lasts for about 7-8 months but you will never be exhausted in Moreh even during peak summer because of the friendly and beautiful people there.

Outsiders and tourists are treated like Gods and Goddesses; so they feel like coming to Moreh again and again. One Hon. late Defence Minister of Bharat used to visit Moreh umpteen times, perhaps because of the beauty and bonhomie of Moreh.

Our Act East Policy via Myanmar is slightly going slow due to regime change in Myanmar, the Covid pandemic and now the Kuki-Meitei ethnic strife. One country is perhaps happy in our slow march with Act East. Now things can be improved if we are ready to proactively indulge with the Military Junta on a fast track and settle the Kuki-Meitei imbroglios at the earliest.

If we can make peace and build confidence and proceed aggressively on the Act East Policy, we can do wonders in South East Asia. Perhaps the Government of Bharat has shifted its priority towards the EU via the western corridor. The proposed land route from India to Europe will bring humongous economic opportunities. Still, we can't simply ignore the importance of ASEAN and the Far East.

Our dealing with ASEAN may remain tricky and lacklustre, but our parleys with them must continue. A free trade regime with ASEAN can still be possible because most of the member countries want to deal with Bharat despite the bullying by the Dragon.

Moreh should not be allowed to decline; the fall of this trading town will be a great loss not only to the State of Manipur but also to the country. Thousands of people are benefited by the border trade briskly operated through Moreh and Tamu. Moreover, it is also the gateway to Southeast Asia. Making Moreh defunct for a long time is a silly idea. It is indeed futile and self-defeating to make Moreh a ghost town.

Restoration of normalcy in this tiny town ought to be a priority. People belonging to Moreh should be allowed to come back at the earliest. Proper security bandobast must be made till complete normalcy is redeemed. Successful restora- tion of peace and normalcy in Moreh may be replicated in other affected areas too.

Moreh town may now be protected by the Army preferably by the Madras Regiment–all the stakeholders may agree. Moreh as a cantonment town may serve its commercial purpose too & what about making it a special economic zone or a free trade zone !


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on October 07 2023 .



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