Border Fence Announcement
India announced on February 6th that construction on the approximately 1021-mile (1643 km) border with Myanmar to enhance border surveillance. Indian Home Minister Amit Shah made the announcement on social media, stating the government built a 6.21-mile (10-km) stretch of the fence in Manipur state. The Home Minister also said that the border will also include a paved track to enhance the Indian security force’s ability to patrol and monitor the border.
The Modi government is committed to building impenetrable borders.
It has decided to construct a fence along the entire 1643-kilometer-long Indo-Myanmar border. To facilitate better surveillance, a patrol track along the border will also be paved.
Out of the total border length,…
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 6, 2024
Shah also said that the government also started two pilot fencing projects under the Hybrid Surveillance System. The two HSS projects will run 0.62-mile (1 km) of the border in both Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur states. Indian officials approved a separate fencing project that will cover an additional 12.43-mile (20-km) stretch of the border and will be constructed in Manipur that will begin “soon.” Planning for an additional 186-mile (300-km) length of smart fencing systems along the Indo-Myanmar border is ongoing and will begin when the project receives approval.
The Indian government believes that the border fence is a necessary response to adequately secure the porous border and prevent “unauthorized personnel” from entering India from Myanmar. They are also worried that individuals are also exploiting the 2018 Free Movement Regime (FMR) established by India as part of its ‘Look East Policy.’
Furthermore, the government indicated that they are contemplating terminating the regime as another measure to prevent illegal immigrants and other “unauthorized individuals” from entering the country. The fence is also to prevent further refugees, anti-Junta rebels, and military personnel from fleeing into India from Myanmar as the country’s conflict escalated along the border region in recent months. However, the government also wants to build a fence to prevent ethnic militants from crossing the border and conducting attacks in Manipur or other eastern states.
However, the border fence will likely increase tensions between the Meitei and Kuki ethnic groups since the Kuki will view the fence and the FMR’s annulment as the government siding with the Meitei. The reason why is that the Meitei follow the Hindu religion (like the BJP-dominated government), while the Kuki are majority Christians. There have been previous instances of the government siding with groups that practice Hinduism in disputes or conflicts with religious minorities. The most notable example are the lax sentences Hindu extremist groups will receive for assaulting or killing religious minorities in the name of protecting cows or Hinduism.