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Bru voters appearing in an electoral hearing at Kanhmun village in Mizoram’s Mamit district in February this year
Bru voters appearing in an electoral hearing at Kanhmun village in Mizoram’s Mamit district in February this year|File image
MIZORAM

Mizoram: Final repatriation of Brus from Tripura camps in Sept

Centre also agrees to close down all Bru relief camps in North Tripura, stop dolling out ration to refugees once repatriation process is completed in October

Henry L Khojol

Aizawl: The ninth and final repatriation of Bru people, lodged in six relief camps in Tripura, will begin from September and is scheduled to be completed by October, a senior official in the state home department said on Monday.

The official said that the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) on Bru Repatriation held in New Delhi on Friday decided to complete the repatriation process by October.

He said that the meeting, which was attended by officials of the Union ministry of home affairs, Mizoram and Tripura governments, leaders of Bru organisations and civil societies in Mizoram, unanimously accepted the road map for Bru repatriation prepared by the Mizoram government as per which the final phase of repatriation should begin from September.

The meeting also agreed to conduct re-identification of Bru people as there are newborn babies, who are not included in the list during identification in 2016.

The official said that the re-identification process would be conducted between July 3 and 20 and the Mizoram officials will leave for Bru camps on Tuesday. “Officials will identify only Bru families, who are willing to return to Mizoram,” he said.

The official added that the JMG on Bru repatriation also agreed to close down all Bru relief camps and stop dolling out rations to the refugees once the repatriation is completed in October.

The refugees will be repatriated in Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib districts, he said.

More than 32,000 Bru tribals are still lodging at six relief camps in North Tripura district since they fled Mizoram following ethnic tension triggered by the murder of Lalzawmliana, a Mizo forest guard, near Persang hamlet inside the Dampa tiger reserve in Mamit district by suspected Bru militants on October 21, 1997.

The first repatriation attempt in November 2009 was not only scuttled by the murder of Zarzokima of Bungthuam village by the Bru militants, but also triggered another round of exodus.

In the last identification conducted in November 2016, 32,876 people belonging to 5,407 families were identified as bona fide residents of Mizoram. A number of Bru families have returned to Mizoram during repeated repatriation process or on their own.

In the last repatriation process conducted between August and September last year, only around 150 refugees from 42 families returned to Mizoram after the Centre decided to stop dolling out ration to the refugees. Most Bru refugees refused to return because they were unhappy with the repatriation package offered by the Centre.

Before the Lok Sabha polls in April, the Mizoram government and civil society groups made an agreement that the Bru people should be repatriated within this year for the final round and that those families, who refused to return, should be deleted from the state’s electoral roll.