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Northeast States want tighter border vigil

By The Assam Tribune

Agartala, April 17 (IANS): Highlighting crimes such as smuggling of weapons, narcotics and fake Indian currency notes (FICN), the Northeast States have pressed the Central government to tighten vigil along international borders.

The issue was taken up at the Chief Ministers' conference on internal security in New Delhi on Monday with Mizoram's Lal Thanhawla, Tripura's Manik Sarkar and Manipur's O Ibobi Singh saying that the long unfenced India-Myanmar and India-Bangladesh borders and mountainous terrain are the main routes of various border crimes.

While Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam share a 1,880-km border with Bangladesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh share a 1,640-km unfenced border with Myanmar.

The India-Bangladesh border is patrolled by the Border Security Force (BSF) while the India-Myanmar boundaries are being guarded by the Assam Rifles.

The dense forests and mountainous terrain add to the factors making the borders porous and vulnerable.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said on Monday that his State, sharing "porous" international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, remains prone to a host of illegal activities like smuggling of weapons, narcotics and FICN. "Mizoram shares 722-km long porous international borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar and free movement regime is allowed along the 404-km Indo-Myanmar border. The Indo-Myanmar unfenced border is characterised by hostile terrain covered with dense canopy. Hence, Assam Rifles alone cannot effectively monitor the Indo-Myanmar border," he said.

This, he said, has direct bearing on the internal security of not just Mizoram but also "for the whole northeastern region as Indian insurgent outfits use it as a conduit for arms smuggling and for crossing over to neighbouring countries for seeking shelter or training".

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said fencing was incomplete in about 176 km of the 856-km India-Bangladesh border in his state. "It is necessary to complete fencing in the remaining part as the militants are using these unfenced borders to get access their camps in Bangladesh."

"The Northeast India extremist outfits are mainly operating from across the border in Bangladesh. Details of locations of their camps and activities in Bangladesh have been shared. The issue should be taken up with Dhaka," he said. Sarkar demanded the setting up of more border outposts along the border.

Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh also asked for accelerating border fencing works. "The 400-km long unfenced Indo-Myanmar border with Manipur is a cause of concern for the state's internal security as numerous crimes are taking place along this porous border," he said.

The state governments in the region are also worried about the fake currency racket and raised the issue in New Delhi.

Fake currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination are in circulation in the region. Nationalised banks and various other financial institutions in northeast India have taken a series of measures, including installation of fake note detection machines.

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