India, Myanmar open up borders

AIZAWL: In a reciprocal gesture, Myanmar has decided to allow Indians living in border areas of four northeastern states to travel upto 16 km inside its territory without a passport or visa, a Mizoram government official said Monday.

"The reciprocal arrangements for the visit of both Indians and Mynmarese were discussed in detail at a deputy commissioner-level meeting held at Falam in Myanmar's Chin state last week," a Mizoram home department official here told IANS.

India had already made a similar announcement earlier this year, allowing unrestricted entry of Myanmarese up to 16 km territory inside Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

"Besides residents of Mizoram, inhabitants of Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh would be allowed to visit the other side of the Myanmar border," the official said.

Citizens of both countries can stay on the other side of the border for a maximum period of one week.

Mizoram's Champhai district Deputy Commissioner Vijaya Kumar Bidhuri led the Indian delegation at the meeting held Saturday.

Official of both countries have also agreed to work together in curbing trafficking of rare orchids, animal organs and skins, drugs and sandalwood.

The tribal-dominated population on both sides of the border share common lifestyles and traditions.

Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram share a 1,640 km-long border with Myanmar, manned by the Assam Rifles on the Indian side. The dense forests make the border porous and vulnerable.