Nagaland CM urges Centre to stop fence construction

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) Nagaland Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang on Thursday urged the central government to intervene and get halted the ongoing construction by Myanmar of a fence along the India-Myanmar border in Nagaland.

The fence, once constructed, may cut off 3,500 acres of arable land in Naga villages.

Zeliang, who met Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday also said that the movement of Nagas along both sides of the border would get adversely affected and harm their living.

“Border fencing is also not in tune with the Free Movement Regime shared by both India and Myanmar,” Zeliang told Singh.

He also said that “unlike India’s borders with Pakistan, people along India-Myanmar borders have been living peacefully together since time immemorial and there is no need for border fencing as far as these areas are concerned”.

“The communities living on both sides of the border in these areas have very close cultural and social affinities and there are instances where people hold land on both sides of the border,” Zeliang said.

According to a statement by the Nagaland government, Zeliang also told the Home Minister that the fencing would also affect the Act East policy — which intends to improve trade and communications across the India-Myanmar border.

The statement also said that Zeliang was told the Union Home Ministry has already written to the External Affairs Ministry to take up with the Myanmar government not to proceed with border fencing on their side.

The construction of border fencing from border pillar number 139 to 146 along the India-Myanmar border would affect mostly the Khiamniungan Naga tribe — numbering over 3,000 — and their 3,500 acres of cultivable land.

Earlier, a delegation from the Eastern Naga People’s Organisation (ENPO) and the India-Myanmar border village council approached the home and defence ministries to halt the fence construction.