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Migrants threatening survival of indigenous people of Manipur: CM Biren Singh

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Imphal, May 9: Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said that immigrants from across the border threatened the survival of indigenous people in the state and the government would not allow it to continue.

Singh in his series of social media posts without naming Myanmar said that till May 7, a total of 5,457 illegal immigrants have been detected and biometric data of 5,173 of them have been collected while the deportation process is underway.

“In this crucial juncture, we have noticed certain homegrown groups, based out of Western countries, criticising the steps taken up against illegal immigration by giving a communal tone and propagating it as violations of religious freedom,” the Chief Minister said.

“Ironically, this lobby is quiet about Western countries’ stance against illegal immigration but raises objections to the actions taken in Manipur, India. This selective outrage raises concerns about the agendas and propaganda pursued by these groups with secessionist tendencies.”

Singh, who also holds the home portfolio, during the past few days has been posting on various social media about aspects of illegal migrants in Manipur from neighbouring Myanmar.

Manipur shares around 400 km of international border with Myanmar. Works for fencing of the 20 km of the mountainous borders are now underway.

The Chief Minister had said that the influx of illegal immigrants from Myanmar led to the emergence of 996 new villages in the state in the past 18 years.

“The unnatural growth of 996 new villages since 2006 and illegal immigration from Myanmar is a threat to the indigenous people and national security. The immigrants have set up settlements by encroaching upon forest lands, leading to deforestation and environmental degradation,” a Manipur government report said.

It added that the immigrants have engaged in illicit activities such as poppy cultivation, further exacerbating the socio-economic and ecological challenges faced by the region.

In response to these challenges, the Manipur government has initiated several measures aimed at addressing the issue of illegal immigration and its associated impacts.

The report, accessed by IANS, said the state government following the advice of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been collecting biometric data of the illegal immigrants and geotagging their settlements.

According to the report, the state government has taken various measures to curb the illegal influx from across the border.

The measures include enhancing security along around 400 km India-Myanmar border in Manipur, engagement of indigenous communities, empowering them to safeguard their rights and interests against encroachment and exploitation and urged the Central government to scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar.

The FMR allowed citizens residing close to both sides of the border to move 16 km into each other’s territory without a passport or a visa.

The Manipur Chief Minister had said that 877 square km of forest cover in the northeastern state were destroyed in 34 years (1987-2021), primarily for the illegal cultivation of poppy, which has been used to manufacture various drugs.

Singh, who also holds the Home portfolio, said that forest cover in Manipur was 17,475 sq km in 1987 and in 2021, it was destroyed to 16,598 sq km, primarily for the cultivation of poppy.

The eviction of unauthorised encroachers carried out ever since the BJP government led by him came to power in Manipur in 2017 and 291 encroachers were evicted from the Reserve Forest and Protected Forest throughout the state, the Chief Minister had said.

It was never targeted towards any particular community, Singh pointed out. PTI

 

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