Border villagers demand proper boundary demarcation

SUKHAM NANDA SINGH MOREH, 30th Oct: Lack of consensus over land demarcation at Govajang and Haolenphai villages under Moreh sub-division of the newly Tengnoupal district remains one of the stumbling blocks to the border fencing project being taken up to check cross border smuggling and filter entry of disruptive elements into the state.

During the recent rural reporting programme conducted by All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU), a joint team media and Moreh police was told by the local elders that Govajang and Haolenphai villages stand to lose vast tract of land in case the Indo-Myanmar boundary fencing project proceeds without proper area demarcation.

While conveying that project works have ceased since August this year subsequent to objection raised by the villagers, Govajang village elder Lunpao Khongsai and pastor Lunkhopao Kipgen guided media persons to a spot at the centre of the village where border pillar No. 79 was found erected.

In case the border fence passes through the said pillar then the size of Govajang will shrink by about 25 sq kms, over 20 houses will fall on the Myanmar side and will lose about 10 hectares of paddy plantation area which has been the basic source of livelihood of the villagers, they said, adding that halting the fencing works was to draw the attention of authorities concerned for averting possible hardships that might befall upon the local populace.

Moreover, the incident of burning down of a Saw Mill at Haolenphai village, which is only about 3 km away from Moreh police station, by some Myanmar military personnel in August testified aggressive nature of the international neighbour, Lunpao said.

He also recounted that a Myanmar army officer brought labourers to Haolenphai village, cut down trees and started construction of a military camp in-spite of objection raised by state government officials who were present at the opportune moment.

Though police and civil officials informed the Myanmar officer that no construction activities should be carried out within Indian territory – Haolenphai village, the latter curtly replied that as per the British record and map the said place falls under Myanmar.

As the Myanmar military defied public and police objection and went ahead with construction of a base camp and a water reservoir close to Haolenphai village, the villagers feel highly insecure as the possibility of Myanmar military launching crackdown in case of opposition to their ambition cannot be ruled out, he mentioned.

Noting that a high-power committee led by principal secretary (home) came to the border villages on August 26, purportedly to assess the situation and present the case to the state government for further intimation to the Central government, the village elder and pastor emphasised that the Central government should settle the border dispute with Myanmar authorities at the earliest.

It may be mentioned that with increasing incidents of militants sneaking into Manipur from across the border, the government had started construction of the 10 km long border fence at Moreh sector. The Border Roads Organisation has been entrusted the task of constructing the fence with the Assam Rifles, which has replaced the Border Security Force in the border area, providing security coverage to the work agency.

The villagers of both Govajang and Haolenphai suggested that the Central government should prevail upon the Myanmar authorities to stop construction of the border fencing at disputed areas until a joint survey is conducted so as to ensure that the villagers on either side of the international boundary could live in peace and no harm is done to their ancestral land.

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