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Gaikhangam firm on territory

Imphal, Dec. 25: Manipur deputy chief minister Gaikhangam today said the state would “never compromise” on its territory and that efforts were on to resolve the dispute with Myanmar on the construction of a border checkpost at Moreh.

Gaikhangam, who also holds the home portfolio, said this while reacting to a rally by Myanmar citizens yesterday to protest Manipur’s construction of an integrated checkpost at the border township of Moreh in Chandel district, 109km south of Imphal.

Myanmar citizens held the protest march in Tamu, across Moreh, claiming that the checkpost site was within Myanmar’s territory. The protesters urged Indian authorities to honour international laws on boundary.

The march followed a recent protest letter from Myanmar army authorities asking its Indian counterparts to stop construction of the checkpost.

Sources at Moreh said tension was building up at the border town following yesterday’s rally near the international border.

Citizens expressed apprehension of unwanted development between people on both sides of the border on the issue. People settled along the border and citizens’ organisations have been expressing apprehension of possible loss of Manipur’s territory to Myanmar. They are putting pressure on the state government to resolve the border issue.

“The state government and the Centre are constantly monitoring the situation and measures are being taken to ensure that the border dispute between the two neighbouring countries is amicably resolved,” Gaikhangam said on the sidelines of a programme at the Congress Bhawan here.

He said measures were being taken to maintain peace along the border.

The Myanmar authorities wrote the letter a day after a central team, headed by Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (Northeast), in the Union home ministry, visited Moreh on December 7 to take stock of the situation. Gaikhangam said a team from the office of the surveyor-general of India would visit Manipur soon as part of the preparations for an Indo-Myanmar joint survey of the 350km-long Manipur-Myanmar border.

“We cannot say when the joint survey will take place. But the state government is putting pressure on the Centre to speed up the matter so that the issue can be settled amicably,” Gaikhangam said.

About the performance of the Okram Ibobi Singh government on law and order, he said the situation was much better compared to previous years.

“All sections of people have realised that disturbance hampers growth and development of the state. If the positive trend continues, Manipur can be in the race for development in a few years,” he said.

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