Final repatriation: 2nd round unsuccessful as Bru women protest
Aizawl: The second round of the final phase of repatriation of Bru families -- of those residing at Naisingpara transit camp of North Tripura and planned to be shifted to Mizoram’s Kolasib district -- that was scheduled to begin from Monday was unsuccessful as a huge crowd of Bru women blocked buses and officials sent by the Mizoram government at Asapara in North Tripura.
The women also marched from Asapara to Naisingpara demonstrating against the Mizoram officials.
A convoy of 17 buses hired by the Mizoram state government, one liaison officer’s car and one security personnel’s car reached the relief camp at Naisingpara but were unsuccessful in repatriating any Brus from the camp.
In the final phase of repatriation which began on Thursday, only 50 out of the 4,447 familes who have been living at relief camps in neighbouring Tripura for about 22 years, have returned to Mizoram so far.
On the first day on Thursday, only 199 Bru tribals belonging to 48 families living in four transit camps of Tripura had left for Mizoram. The number was expected to increase as the second batch was to leave on Monday. However, that didn’t happen.
Meanwhile, during the early hours of Monday, two families -- five adults and four children -- left the Naisingpara transit camp on their own. They were received by Mizoram officials of the Bru repatriation at Kanhmun village. They are being taken to Hortoki town in Kolasib district.
Also, out of the 48 families leaving from Kaskau and Khakchangpara camps of North Tripura on Thursday, six families have already been taken to Tuidam and Bawrai villages of Mamit district in Mizoram. On Sunday, officials from the Mizoram government visited these families and handed over the package agreement made by the Union ministry of home affairs -- Rs 25,000 for the first installment of building fund, Rs 5,000 of monthly cash assistance and monthly free ration. Each family was also given a ration card for the free monthly ration.
The remaining 42 Bru families returning to Lunglei district of Mizoram left the headquarters of the 2nd Battalion of Mizoram Armed Police in Lunglei at 9.30 am on Monday. Of the 42 families, 24 will settle at Dinthar village, nine at Putlungasih village, six families at Buknuam village and three families at Chawilung ‘S’ village.
The Centre had 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.