Mending Fences

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The direction from the Union Government to the Border Road Organisation on Thursday to stop fencing works along the Myamarese border right away will calm a lot of unsettled nerves. We can make a derivation that the Centre has acknowledged that the present situation merits more facts digging and rummaging through old history and geography manuscripts and that the line of fencing is not as clear cut, contrary to its earlier assumptions. Co-incidentally, the Union home minister SK Shinde who had earlier cautioned the state government from reacting in any way to antagonize the Myanmarese government was the one to send the directives to the BRO.

It was gratifying to note that the Centre treated the issue with gravity. Besides the officials of the Home Ministry and the state team, the other representations at the talks were from the BRO, the Surveyor General of India and the Assam Rifles, which has been watching the 1624 kilometer long Indo-Myanmar border. All the sides that participated at the decisive discussion on Thursday will be represented during the spot verification of the fencing work and disputed border pillars on December 7 and 8 as well. The Centre has reflected its seriousness on rectification of the fencing by its deeds over the last two days including the pledge from the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on protecting every inch of land belonging to Manipur. His words will be the anchor on which the whole campaign for restoration of the rightful boundary of Manipur will rest.

The latest development should not be taken as a timer for a short break but as the sharp sounding of the bugle to brace ourselves for the long and taxing tasks ahead. We should not be led to overlook the demand in the memorandum to the Prime Minister for total dismantling of the erroneous border fencing. Moreover, dozens of border pillars pushed deep into Manipur territory has to be retrieved to its original places and fencing stopped along the 35-km stretch of unsettled boundary. Everyone agrees with the assertion of the all party delegation that the clarification that the ‘fencing were security fencing not border fencing’ was not merely unconvincing but provocative. The conglomeration of political parties should neither relent on its demand for involvement of the Manipur government as an essential party in all issues pertaining to the India-Myanmar international boundary lying within the jurisdiction of Manipur state.

No doubt, the crusade for justice on the border row has received the much needed fillip. Many noteworthy events had transpired since the issue snowballed into a major controversy warranting the direct involvement of the Prime Minister of India. However, there are still many grey areas that need to be resolved. The BJP and MPP chose not to board the flight to Delhi this time owing to sharp differences, mainly on the ‘dubious’ role of the Congress Government and the Chief Minister O Ibobi regarding the surrender of state’s land for the Yangoupokpi-Lokchao Wildlife Sanctuary. Hidden facts if any need to be brought to the surface and engaging in mudslinging exercise and verbal duels will not be helpful in this direction. The all party delegation has succeeded in projecting an orientation for the next step and it is desirable that BJP and MPP join the trip on December 7 and 8 and ennoble themselves.

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