Permit lifted in three N-E states

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 2.01.11
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Imphal, Jan. 1: The Centre has finally opened up three northeatern states of Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram to foreigners by lifting the protected area permit system for an initial period of one year.

This is considered as a New Year gift to the people of the Northeast. The Union home ministry issued an order on Thursday and the information was intimated to the three states. The order came into effect from today.

The protected area permit was introduced in Manipur in 1958 to restrict free entry of foreigners in the state. Under the system, foreigners required the protected area permit to enter the states. They can now enter any part of the state but their arrival should be reported to the district foreigners registration office within 24 hours of their arrival. The district superintendent of police will be the foreigners registration officers.

However, citizens of Afghanistan, China and Bangladesh would still require the home ministry’s approval to enter these states. Myanmarese nationals can enter freely upto 16km from the border and if they want to move in further, they will have to take permission, which can be issued by the state government.

Indian missions or posts have also been authorised to issue “missionary visa” to foreign missionaries visiting these three states according to the government’s guidelines.

Manipur has been demanding removal of the protected area permit as it hampered the tourism sector. Official sources said foreigners, particularly relatives of allied forces personnel who were killed during the Second World War in the state, wanted to visit it.

The order came after a joint delegation of the Manipuri Association of Canada and Local Support Group submitted a memorandum to the home ministry on December 28. The Canada-based Manipuris launched a global online petition from December 5 and people from 75 countries signed the petition online. The Local Support Group launched a similar signature campaign in Manipur in support of the campaign.

“I came every three years to Imphal with my son. I wanted to come every year to attend the death anniversary of my husband Jupitar Yambem. But because of the protected area permit I could not come every year. If it is lifted I will come every year to Imphal,” Nancy McCardle Yambem said during her recent visit here. Yambem was killed in the terror attack on New York’s twin tower.

R.K. Shivachandra, convener of the Local Support Group, who also led the Manipur delegation, said the state could now look forward to a boom in the tourism sector. Shivachandra, who is also the president of Indo-Myanmar fraternal alliance, appealed to the people to welcome foreigners.