Centre opens up three NE states to foreign visitors


IMPHAL Jan 5: The Centre has finally opened up three Northeatern states of Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram to foreigners by lifting Protected Area Permit (PAP) system for an initial period of one year. This is considered as a New Year gift from the Centre to the Northeast by many.
The Union home ministry issued an order on Dec 30 and the information was intimated to the Okram Ibobi Singh government and the other two states. The protected area permit system was introduced in Manipur in the year 1958, restricting free entry of foreigners in the states.
Under the system foreigners required the Protected Area Permit for entering the states.
The order said now foreigners could enter any part of the states and their arrival should be reported to the district Foreigners Registration Office within 24 hours of the arrival. The district superintendents of police are the foreigners’ registration officers.
However, citizens and origins of Afganistan, China and Bangladesh would still require prior approvals of the home ministry.
Indian missions or posts have also been authorized to issue ‘missionary visa’ to foreign missionaries visiting these three states as per the extant guidelines of the government. Myanmarese nationals could enter freely upto 16 kms from the border. If they want to enter beyond 16 kms they would get the permission, which will be issued by the state governments.
The Manipur government and people of Manipur had been demanding the lifting of the Protected Area Permit system, maintaining that the system posed an obstacle to the promotion of tourism in the state.
Official sources said foreigners wanted to visit Manipur, particularly relatives of personnel of allied forces killed during the Second World War in Manipur. The order came after a joint delegation of the Manipuri Association of Canada and a local group named Local Support Group submitted a memorandum to the home ministry on December 28, 2010.
The Canada based Manipuris launched a global online petition from December 5 and people from 75 countries signed the petition on line. The Local Support Group also launched a similar signature campaign in Manipur in support of the Canada Manipuris` campaign.
R.K. Shivachandra, convenor of the Local Support Group, who also led the Manipur delegation, said Manipur could now look towards a booming tourism in the coming years. He hoped that the Centre would extend the period after the one year expired. The order came into effect from Jan 1.
Shivachandra, who is also the president of Indo-Myanmar fraternal alliance appealed to the people to welcome foreigners and not to do anything that would scare them away.


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