Security forces, deployed along the 1,463 km long Indo-Myanmar international border, want a time-bound execution of the ongoing border fencing. A senior officer pointed out that at present the fencing work, in progress between pillar 79 and pillar 81, is really slow.
"This is a very slow pace of work. There is an urgent need to seal this stretch of the border, particularly the stretch with Manipur. Anti-Indian insurgents move freely and transport weapons through this route. Drug peddlers are equally at ease in trafficking drugs through this strategic route," he added.
Moreh town and its nearby areas were left out of the border fencing exercise, apparently to avoid the shifting of a very old Tamil temple, a portion of which has fallen on the other side of the demarcated boundary line. Initially, the priests were ready to shift the temple into Indian terrirtory but vested interests have forced them to change their stand. Now they refuse to relocate the temple.
While the legal trade through the Moreh transit point earns about Rs 10-12 crore per annum, the volume of illegal trade is much higher. If the fencing is executed without any gaps, this illegal trade will receive a major setback, the sources highlighted.
However, the Assam Rifles and state police personnel, who are engaged in a relentless battle against the militants, are keen to seal the route. The two major insurgent groups of Manipur, the People's Liberation Army and the United Liberation Front of Manipur besides other groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Issac-Muivah) and NSCN (Khaplang) groups have their base camps in Myanmarese territory bordering India.
These militants use the Friendship Road along the border and transport weapons through the National Highway 39 which goes from Moreh to Dimapur. Myanmarese army officials are cooperative and share information and partcipate in joint patrolling and operations, but the lower rungs are believed to cause the problem. Their low pay and spread out deployment along this border stretch, combined with the fact that the militants allegedly pay cash ensures that the insurgents have a free hand in the region.
Drug trafficking is another menace that has become a source of concern for quite sometime now. The United Nations Drug Control Programme and the International Narcotic Control Board in their reports in 2001, identified Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram as the transit points for illegal drug trafficking from across the border. The report stated that these three states were fast emerging as the epicentre of the narco business.
The flow of drugs from across the border has already caused an AIDS epidemic in the region turning it into a high risk zone. The Konyak inhabited Eastern Nagaland border line with Myanmar, particularly Longwa, Noklak and the upper Konyak region of Tobu are known as 'silk routes' to drug peddlers.
Sources expressed concern over the lack of an effective mechanism to check this border stretch although it is a very sensitive zone because of the huge investments by China in Myanmar and the presence of most of the anti-Indian insurgent outfits just across the border.
The security issue and the effective joint patrolling along this border stretch was discussed in detail during the recent visit of Union Home Secretary G K Pillai to Myanmar. But the ground realities are yet to witness any substantial change on this matter, added the source.