The Union government is all set to scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along the Myanmar border.


  • People living in border areas, who could cross over to India, will soon require visas.
  • Around 300 km of the border will be fenced and a tender will be issued in the next few days.  
  • A survey of the border areas with the help of drones has been completed.

Indian-Myanmar Border 

India and Myanmar share an unfenced border, and people on either side have familial and ethnic ties, which prompted the arrangement in the 1970s. 

  • It was last revised in 2016.

India shares a 1,643 km-long border with Myanmar, which passes through the States of Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km), and Mizoram (510 km).

India-Myanmar Bilateral Relation

  • India shares spiritual, historical, linguistic and ethnic ties with Myanmar. It is the only ASEAN country adjoining India and, therefore, is a gateway to South East Asia. 
  • India is seeking to enhance its cooperation with Myanmar in line with our ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighborhood First’ Policies.

Commercial Cooperation 

Since the signing of the India-Myanmar trade agreement in 1970, bilateral trade has grown steadily, albeit with a slight decline in the 80’s. 

India is the fifth-largest trading partner of Myanmar. 

  • The bilateral trade stood at US$ 1.03 billion in 2021-22

Development Cooperation 

  • India’s development assistance portfolio in Myanmar is now over US $1.75 billion. 
  • The bulk of this assistance is grant-funded. 

The projects in which India has been involved in Myanmar include: 

  • The Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project; 
  • The Trilateral Highway Project (East-West corridor connecting our Northeast with Myanmar and Thailand) 
  • Assistance in setting up institutions for higher learning and research (Myanmar Institute of Information Technology) 
  • Advanced Centre for Agricultural Research and Education, Myanmar-India Centre for Enhancement of IT Skills, India-Myanmar Industrial Training Centres
  • Rakhine State Development Programme
  • Border Area Development Programme
  • Restoration and conservation of Ananda Temple in Bagan (completed in 2018)
  • The repair and conservation of 92 earthquake-damaged pagodas etc. 

A Line of Credit for US $ 500 million is available to Myanmar for undertaking various projects.

In September 2022, India and Myanmar signed a Project Agreement for the Construction of a Modern Integrated Check post at Tamu in Myanmar.

Defense Cooperation 

  • Defense cooperation has been a strong pillar of bilateral relations between the two countries. 
  • High-level visits, enhanced training, capacity building and support in the provision of specific equipment and technologies have led to a more wholesome relationship and better understanding of mutual security concerns.


  • India and Myanmar share close cultural ties and a sense of deep kinship, given India’s Buddhist heritage. 
  • Building on this shared heritage, India is undertaking some key initiatives in the restoration of the Ananda Temple in Bagan and the repair and conservation of a large number of damaged pagodas.

Free Movement Regime (FMR)

Under the FMR, every member of the hill tribes, who is either a citizen of India or a citizen of Myanmar, and who resides within 16 km on either side of the border, can cross the border on production of a border pass.

  • Pass is usually valid for a year, and allows an individual to stay for up to two weeks per visit.

Current Status of FMR

  • Currently, FMR is guarded by Assam Rifles. 
  • It was implemented in 2018 as part of India’s Act East policy, an effort to boost the region’s economy by boosting India’s trade with ASEAN and other Southeast Asian nations.

The Manipur government has suspended the FMR since 2020, following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • The ongoing ethnic violence in the State to the free movement of people from across the border.

Issues with India-Myanmar

Porous Border: The Indo-Myanmar border runs through forested and undulating terrain, is almost entirely unfenced, and difficult to monitor. 

  • In Manipur, less than 6 km of the border is fenced.

Misuse of FMR: This is being used by insurgent groups to carry out attacks on the Indian side and then flee into Myanmar. 

Drugs and Gold smuggling networks: India is located near the ‘Golden Triangle’ of drug production in the East (Northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar), which has resulted in rampant drug trafficking in the country.

Insurgent and Terrorist support: Many of the Insurgents in the North Eastern States of India have ties with groups in Myanmar who provide political backing, economic assistance, logistic support, military training or arms supplies.

  • The porous border also helps provide safe havens to the insurgents.

Way forward

  • Controlled Border Management: Implement a phased border fencing plan with proper consultation with local communities to address concerns about land ownership and livelihoods. Utilize drone surveillance and technology to improve border monitoring.
  • Strengthen Border Security Forces: Equip and train Assam Rifles and other security personnel to effectively patrol and secure the border.
  • Intelligence Sharing: Increase collaboration with Myanmar authorities on intelligence sharing and joint operations against insurgent groups operating across the border.
  • Address Internal Conflicts: Address internal conflicts in India’s Northeast through political dialogue and development initiatives to reduce the appeal of joining extremist groups.

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