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Govt Set To Open Up Restricted North-East Areas To Foreigners

NEW DELHI, Dec 28: India has decided to lift restrictions on foreigners entering prohibited areas in Manipur, Nagaland and some other North-East states to promote tourism in the region.

‘The announcement will be made within a day or two,’ said a senior government official on condition of anonymity. ‘It was decided keeping in view repeated demands made by representatives from the North-East and (to) promote tourism in the states.’

States under the RAP and/or PAP regime.... Photo Courtesy:www.d-maps.com

Indians and foreigners who want to visit states in the North-East need special permission from the government under three restrictive regimes’”inner-line permit (ILP) for Indians, and protected area permit (PAP) and restricted area permit (RAP) for foreigners.

Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Sikkim were put under PAP in 1958 to prevent religious conversions, radicalization of religion and control insurgency.

Under this, foreigners except citizens of neighboring Bhutan require special permits from the home ministry to enter these states.

A violation could mean imprisonment of up to five years, but there have hardly been any arrests because of a lack of proper monitoring.

‘In 60 years, we have largely maintained to put insurgency under control in the NorthEastern states and we do not expect it to rise further. So it was decided to lift PAP for one year on experimental basis,’ said another official in the home ministry, asking not to be identified.

‘If it is successful, we will extend it further,’ the official added.

The government is not lifting the restrictions under ILP and RAP. Indians need ILPs to enter Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram and RAPs are necessary to visit certain areas such as near military bases or insurgency-affected regions in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.

‘It is the right step taken by the Centre… and will promote tourism in the region,’ said Ved Marwah, a former governor of Manipur.

The home ministry official said the move to ease restrictions under PAP ‘will not only help boost tourism… but also help those foreigners who have family and friends in prohibited areas of these states.’

*Reported by Sahil Makkar

(Courtesy: Live Mint)

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