Unlike his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart, Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is not only in favour of keeping the India-Myanmar open but also wants the Centre to revert to the limit of 60 km on either side for visa-free movement instead of the present 16 km.
“We do not know about our neighbouring states. But for us here in Mizoram, owing to our close ethnic ties, we would be happy if the earlier practice [60 km free zone and period of stay up 60 days instead of 72 hours] is restored,” Lal Thanhawla said in his presentation in Aizawl Monday.
Under the Free Movement Regime, the governments of India and Myanmar permit entry of persons residing within 16 km of the border with permits but without visa under certain conditions. Citizens of both sides can stay in the other country for three days, within 16 km on either side.
“Keeping in view our strong traditional and close ethnic ties with the people in our border, that is the Chin Hills of Myanmar, the government of Mizoram is not in favour of fencing along the Indo-Myanmar border,” the CM said. “Rather, India can take advantage of the traditional ties and foster its budding engagement with Myanmar by building up trade and business opportunities as part of its Act East Policy,” he said.
Lal Thanhawla does not want a fence along the Bangladesh border either. “We are losing precious land as our people are not allowed to continue farming outside the fence. Besides, since our boundaries with Myanmar and Bangladesh are divided by natural rivers, fencing is not a solution because the terrain is steep and inhospitable,” he said.
Mizoram will formulate guidelines for implementation of the Free Movement Regime, and has set up four designated crossing points for collecting entry fees.