A border town called Moreh
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A hundred and ten kilometres away from Manipur's capital of Imphal, on the border between India and Myanmar, stands Moreh. The road to the border town cuts through wide, windy fields of the Imphal valley, climbing up into the moist clouds that shroud the hills of Manipur's Chandel district only to descend into the oppressively hot plains of Moreh.
Residents of Moreh will tell you that the town may be small but it is cosmopolitan, more than even Imphal. Manipuri Meiteis, Kuki tribals, Tamils, Punjabis and even Burmese nationals with their trademark sarongs and conical cane hats walk the streets with their wares. And unlike Imphal, which shuts at six in the evening, Moreh stays awake till late night. Liquor vends dot the main road that passes through the town. The beer brands that line the glass cases in an otherwise dry state testify to this plurality—Burmese beer, the cheap Dali from China, and German and Dutch beer.
Moreh is not only at the heart of thriving trade but also the main transit point of drug trafficking in Manipur. Customs officials in the town say drugs are often brought in from the Burmese side with consignments of clothes and food. "We do carry out random checks and so does the Assam Rifles, but it is not physically possible to check everything,'' says a senior customs official in Moreh. And with a border that is completely open, drugs such as cannabis, mandrake and other drugs have a free thoroughfare.
The market in Moreh
The land in Moreh levels off as it approaches the Myanmar border to enter the mud-caked informal international trading market of Namphalong on the Burmese side. The Indo-Myanmar Friendship Gate is the route that traders with push carts and others with sacks on their heads take from Moreh and back.
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