NEW DELHI, Dec 31 � In a bid to woo tourist into the North Eastern States, the Centre has relaxed travel restriction, deciding to exclude Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland from the Protected Area regime.
The curb on tourists imposed under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order 1958, has been lifted initially for a period of one year.
However, all foreigners visiting these States would have to register themselves with the Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) of the district they visit within 24 hours of their arrival. Citizens of some specified countries would, however, continue to require prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs before their visit to these three States, official Home Ministry sources said.
Indian Missions have also been authorised to issue �Missionary Visa� to foreign Missionaries visiting these three States according to guidelines of the Government.
These changes will ease the difficulties being faced by foreigners to visit these three States, sources said.
The new rules would come into force with effect from January 1, sources informed.
Indians and foreigners who want to visit states in the North-East need special permission from the Government under three restrictive regimes � inner-line permit (ILP) for Indians, and Protected Area Permit (PAP) and Restricted Area Permit (RAP) for foreigners.
Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram were put under PAP in 1958 to prevent religious conversions and control of insurgency. A violation of the rules led to imprisonment of up to five years.
Sources said that in 60 years, insurgency has been contained in the North-East and the Centre does not expect it to rise further. So it was decided to lift PAP for one year on experimental on a basis, sources said.
�If it is successful, we will extend it further,� the official added.
However, the restrictions under ILP and RAP continues, as Indians would still need ILPs to enter Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram and RAPs are necessary to visit certain areas such as near military bases and insurgency-affected area.