Preparations are on to repatriate over 4,447 Bru families living in six relief camps of North Tripura; to be resettled in Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib districts of Mizoram
Aizawl: With the final round of repatriation starting, only 199 Bru tribals belonging to 48 families living in four transit camps of Tripura left for Mizoram in the first batch on Thursday. The number may increase as the second batch of Bru tribals is expected to leave on Monday.
Initially, four families from Kaskaupara were to settle at New Eden area of Mizoram’s Mamit district. However, following their request to allow them to settle at Bawrai in Mamit district, the authorities concerned allowed them to settle in the area. Apart from Kaskaupara, the other three camps from where the Brus are leaving for Mizoram are Khakchangpara, Naisingpara and Hazachera.
Meanwhile, the Centre has announced a package of Rs 350 crore for the ninth phase of repatriation of Bru tribals to Mizoram. According to the compensation package, each family that returns to Mizoram will be given Rs 4 lakh in cash; Rs 1.5 lakh for building houses; free ration facilities for two years; and monthly stipend of Rs 5,000 for a period of two years.
Considered as the “final” round of repatriation of Bru refugees housed in six relief camps of Tripura to Mizoram, the ongoing exercise ran into rough weather after community leaders decided not to return to their homes till their demands were met.
Altogether 4,447 Bru families, lodged in six relief camps in Tripura, are scheduled to return to the neighbouring state from where they had fled in 1997 following ethnic clashes.
The Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Forum (MBDPF), in a memorandum to state chief minister Zoramthanga on September 18, 2019, has already demanded creation of an autonomous district council (ADC) for Brus. The other demands of the forum include reservation of three seats in state legislative assembly; job reservation; introduction of primitive tribunal group (PTG); allotment of five hectares of land to each and every family; staying in one district; restoration of lands, which were deserted in 1997 before displacement from Mizoram; deployment of CAPF and creation of Special Police Officer (SPO) to assist the CAPF by recruiting 70% from Bru community; to increase the pilot of house size from 30x40 to 60x100 on the basis of MoU signed between BNLF and Mizoram government in 2005.
Demanding adequate liberty to be given to the displaced Bru families to settle in any districts of Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei for their convenience, general secretary of the forum, Bruno Mshai, further demanded that the displaced families who came in 2009 should be accepted and also grant equal compensation to them like other families who came in 1997.
“Some families who were rejected by the officials of the government of Mizoram in July, 2019 also be given same compensation like others,” Mshai demanded.
They also demanded that meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group on Bru repatriation be convened immediately in a venue near the relief camps to enable a large number of Bru people to attend it.
Earlier last month, the Mizoram government identified members of 4,447 Bru families lodged in the relief camps as bona fide residents of the state. The home secretary had earlier said all the identified families expressed willingness to return to Mizoram though obstruction from hard-liners and anti-repatriation elements cannot be ruled out. Altogether eight attempts had been made to repatriate the Brus, also called Reangs, and only around 1,681 families have returned to Mizoram since 2010 and were resettled in Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts.
The first attempt to repatriate the Brus from Tripura from November 16, 2009 not only fizzled out due to the murder of a Mizo youth at Bungthuam village on November 13, 2009, but also triggered another wave of exodus.