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    Locals in Northeast India Accuse Government of Ceding Land to Myanmar

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    While the government has clarified that there is no border dispute with Myanmar, residents of Manipur maintain that a border pillar has been erected at least three kilometers within India's territory. A curfew was imposed in the area on July 7 to douse negative sentiments following the controversy.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): Major tensions are brewing in northeast India with locals accusing the Modi-led government of conceding large parts of land to Myanmar. The issue came to focus when local officials, after inspecting the border, claimed that border pillar 81 was erected at least three kilometers inside the territory belonging to the Indian state of Manipur. The officials claimed that the pillar had a Burmese inscription.

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    Alarmed at the development, Manipur's political parties and civil society have demanded that there should be a re-demarcation of the India-Myanmar border.  

    Okram Ibobi Singh, former chief minister of Manipur, said that the boundary issue can be resolved only after conducting a re-survey and re-demarcation of the whole Manipur sector, on the basis of the agreement signed on March 10, 1967, between the governments of India and Myanmar.

    "The re-survey and re-demarcation should be conducted by involving all stakeholders including the state government and the people living at the border," Ibobi Singh said during a press conference on Tuesday.

    Earlier on July 8, India's Ministry of External Affairs had denied reports of boundary pillars allegedly being moved on the India-Myanmar border.

    "These reports are completely baseless and unsubstantiated. This sector of the international boundary is settled and there is no confusion as to its alignment," the ministry said, releasing a statement.

    The ministry said the border near boundary pillars 81 and 82 was settled and routine survey work had been carried out jointly by India and Myanmar only regarding construction of subsidiary pillars in between settled boundary pillars.

    "This has been done with the objective of appraising the local residents on both sides of the border of the exact alignment of the international boundary. The state government of Manipur has been involved in the entire exercise," the ministry claimed.

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    But, Tombiktana, the local administration chief of Tengnoupal in Manipur, where the pillar was spotted, said that central government officials had instructed him to sign papers regarding border pillars, but he declined to sign them.

    "As the villagers living on the border area are the custodians of our boundary, what they say cannot be ignored without proper consideration," Tombikanta, deputy commissioner of Tengnoupal, told the media.

    Civil society group United Committee Manipur (UCM) has also refuted the ministry's claim and said that the group will produce the relevant document of the disputed border areas soon.

    "If the authority concerned says that there is no border dispute along the Indo-Myanmar region of Manipur then why was the 12 Assam Rifles (Indian Army) deployed under the supervision of district magistrate of Tengnoupal, on May 22, at Satang village, which is near pillar number 82," Sunil Karam, the president of UCM, said while addressing a large gathering of media persons in Imphal, the capital of Manipur.

    The Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), another major civil society group, claimed that border pillar 81 was to be erected on the right side of the river Namjeklok as per the Indo-Burma boundary agreement signed on 1967 in Rangoon, but "unfortunately the pillar [was] erected on the left side of the river."

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