NEW DELHI, December 4 (Manipur Information Centre): The Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh today assured to the all political parties delegation of the state led by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh that an inch of land in Indian territory on Manipur border would not be conceded to the neighbouring country.
He gave patient hearing of the deliberations of the delegation and informed them that he would talk about the matter with the Home Minister of India and asked the delegation to meet the Home Minister too. The Prime Minister also stated that he would instruct the concerned authority to stop the on-going construction of the border fencing and to correct the error.
In the meeting with the union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in his office chamber at North Block at 1:15 pm this afternoon, the Union Home Minister noted the gravity of the situation and immediately convened a meeting of all concerned departments including Assam Rifles, Border Road Organization, Google, Surveyor General of India with the delegation of all political parties of Manipur tomorrow at 1 pm to resolve the issue.
Twenty two members of All Political Parties of Manipur led by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh met the Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh at Prime Minister’s Office at South Block here at 12.20 pm today and submitted a memorandum in the matter of border fencing being constructed along Indo-Myanmar International Boundary in Manipur sector.
Other members were Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam, N Biren MLA (INC), RK Anand MLA (INC), Dr I. Ibohalbi Singh MLA and Opposition leader (TMC), RK Shivchandra (TMC), Karam Shyam MLA (LJP), Y Mani Singh (MSCP), Kh Devabrata Singh (MSCP), Dr M Nara Singh (CPI), N Mangi Singh (CPI), Ksh Shanta (CPI-M), Sarat Salam (CPI-M), Manihar Goswami (JD-S), N Kavita Devi (BSP), W Morung Makunga (NPF), Athusan Abonmei (NPF), Sapam Samungou Singh (Shiva Sena), L Seth (PDA), M Tombi Singh (JD-U), N Hemanta Singh JD-U), Kh Gyaneshwar Singh (AIFB) and N Ratan (Kapu) Meetei (NCP).
The memorandum stated that Manipur in the historical past, was an independent princely kingdom of South East Asia, with its own distinct socio-cultural and historical entity for more than two millennia. The ancient boundaries of the kingdom of Manipur extended up to the southern bank of the Brahmaputra in the north, Lushai Hills (now Mizoram) in the south, up to the confluence of the Irrawaddy-Chindwin rivers of the then Burma in the east, and up to the Cachar valley districts of Assam in the west (Report on the Eastern Frontier of British India by Capt. R.B. Pemberton, 1835).
It further stated that during the regime of the British, the boundaries of Manipur continued to shrink. After the Treaty of Peace signed at Yandaboo on February 24, 1826 and Agreement regarding the Kabaw Valley at Sunynachil Ghat on January 9, 1834, the eastern boundary of Manipur receded to the present day boundary. In this process, many of the villagers belonging to the same ethnic communities were abruptly separated from each other (e.g. 12 villages of Tangkhuls in Somra Tract and another 5 villages of Kangpat fell into Burmese territory). Till today, the result of these events continued to be a sensitive issue among the people of Manipur.
The then Maharaja of Manipur signed the Merger Agreement on September 21, 1949 with India, and Manipur became a part of the Dominion of India on October 15, 1949. Protection and control of the boundaries of Manipur thereafter vested with the Government of India. The Indo-Burma Boundary was delimited through a bilateral agreement signed between India and Burma on March 10, 1967 in Rangoon.
In terms of the said agreement, the International Boundary Line is to be demarcated based on the Traditional Boundary Line. However, after the agreement, the formal boundary delimitation and demarcation were done on maps in between the two countries. Both the countries further ratified the agreement and the Instrument of Ratification was signed and exchanged in New Delhi on May 30, 1967, it further stated.
The memorandum pointed out that the actual physical boundary delimitation on the ground was conducted with effect from April 5, 1975 without any responsible representative from the State of Manipur. The identification of Traditional Boundary Line on the ground was decided by the Officials of the Burmese Government as none of the Indian representatives were familiar with the ground position. Since then, tension along the Indo-Burma boundary line continued to simmer. As per documents available, 99 Border Pillars (BPs) were to be erected along the Indo-Burma International Boundary in Manipur Sector. There were a number of disputed locations of the BPs, namely BPs No.64-68 in the Tuivang-Molcham area, BP Nos. 75-80 in the Tamu-Moreh area including Betuk Village, Thangbung Minou Village and Mangkang Village among others, and BPs No.81-95 in Kwatha Village, Satang Village, Lamlong Khunou Village, Saibol Village, Wangli Village, Choro Khunou Village and Kongkan Thana Village area. The original BP No. 76 and 78 in Moreh area had disappeared long back, and instead new BPs were erected by the Myanmar authority having different shape and design with No. 23 and 21 carved on it respectively. There were two BPs with the same number 87, one located in Yangoupokpi on the Indian soil and the other at Oukrung village on the Myanmar side. Similarly each of the BPs 87, 88 & 89 had a duplicate BP on Indian soil and the others on Myanmar soil. Many of the BPs were uprooted from the original sites and erected deep within Indian Territory. About a dozen BPs remained contentious which needed to be settled with the Government of Myanmar.
It further mentioned that 35 km length of the Indo-Myanmar International Boundary in Manipur sector was yet to be demarcated on the ground. In Haolenphai village (Mankhang) located about 4 km from Moreh, the Myanmar army had erected a wooden fence after felling trees and clearing shrubs, and set up a camp nearby. They also told the Indian villagers not to venture near the fence. The Surveyor General of India printed the Indo-Myanmar Boundary lines in two different scales with two different boundary lines viz. Topo-sheet Map of 1973 and Topo-sheet Map of 1976.
Recently, work had started for construction of border fencing on 10 km stretch in Moreh area along the international boundary. However, serious allegations have been raised that the present fencing did not follow any international practice and erected deep within Indian Territory abandoning huge tract of Indian land making way for the Myanmarese to come and occupy it.
The people of the area and various Civil Society Organizations of Manipur had raised the matter very seriously leading to a delegation of all political parties led by the Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur to visit the area including Mangkang (Haolenphai village) and Thangbung Minou on October 22, 2013.
Taking into consideration the field position found during the site visit and the facts stated above, members of all the political parties of Manipur unanimously resolved to submit a seven point memorandum to the Government of India for urgent necessary action, the memorandum said.
The all political parties of Manipur demanded that the work for construction of the border fencing be dismantled as major portion of the fencing was being erected deep within Indian Territory surrendering huge tract of Indian land. Moreover, construction of the fencing was done in portion of the 35 km unsettled boundary. The clarification made that “the fence is not a border fence, but a security fence” did not cut ice with the people and it had provoked them even more, it contended.
Elaborating that the fence cut through the Yangoupokpi-Lokchao Wildlife Sanctuary which was part of a very sensitive bio-diversity spot serving as a corridor of South East Asian mammalian species, it suggested that an efforts need to be made for providing an alternative corridor before the fence was further constructed.
Urging that all issues pertaining to the India-Myanmar International Boundary in Manipur Sector be dealt with necessarily in a tripartite manner by making the Government of Manipur an essential party, it demanded the re-survey and re-demarcation of the Indian-Myanmar boundary in Manipur Sector and re-identification of the BPs be carried out, based on the Boundary Agreement signed between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Union of Burma (now Myanmar) on Mach 10, 1967, by a Joint Boundary Commission with people’s participation from both sides at the earliest so that tension along the border is mitigated.
The process of re-demarcation of the boundary and re-identification of the border Pillars be done by taking into consideration the treaties on the traditional boundaries available in the historical records of the British period. After re-survey and re-demarcation of the boundary, leading to an acceptable boundary line to both countries, border fencing may be constructed as per the international practice.
Meanwhile, it also demanded that the Surveyor General of India be instructed to publish only validated maps so that confusion is avoided. At the same time, Google be warned to immediately remove the maps of India and Myanmar showing erroneous boundaries in Manipur Sector from its website or correct the same as made available after duly approved and certified by the Surveyor General of India.