A Joint Movement Committee consisting of Bengali and Mizo organisations has called for an indefinite strike from Monday, alleging breach of promise by the Tripura government in the resettlement of Bru migrants in Kanchanpur subdivision.
Nagarik Suraksha Mancha, a local Bengali organisation, was formed in December last year following violence during the series of anti-CAA protests in parts of Kanchanpur sub-division. Several shops and houses were vandalised in the violence, which the Mancha said was perpetrated by tribal protesters including Bru migrants from the relief camps.
In September this year, the Mancha paired with Mizo organisations and called for an indefinite strike in Kanchanpur and Jampui Hill areas. Their demands include rehabilitating Mizoram’s Bru migrants outside Kanchanpur, rehabilitation package for Bengali and Mizo families purportedly evicted from their homes by Bru migrants among others.
In a press conference, Ranjit Nath, president of the Nagarik Suraksha Mancha on Sunday said that the Tripura government has decided to rehabilitate the Bru migrants. Their rehabilitation was announced all over Tripura. However, preparations are underway to rehabilitate all Bru refugees only in the Kanchanpur subdivision.
“The administration had informed in a meeting about the resettlement of 1,500 Bru families in Kanchanpur subdivision to which we had strongly objected and agreed for settling 500 families in Kanchanpur subdivision. But now, it appears that preparations are underway to rehabilitate 5,000 Bru families in Kanchanpur subdivision”, Nath said.
He said the department of power and drinking water and sanitation has already called for tenders to complete the rehabilitation process. The last date for the submission of tenders has been fixed for November 19.
“It is clear that the Tripura government has broken its promise to rehabilitate the Bru refugees in Kanchanpur subdivision. Therefore, we have decided to go on an indefinite strike to protect the interests of the people of Kanchanpur”, he added.
Ranjit Nath said that Manu-Chailengta, Gachiram Para, Anandabazar, Pushparam Para, Bhandarima, Nandiram, and Vikramajoy Para in the Kanchanpur sub-division, have been identified as places for rehabilitation. He also that they are no longer interested in any discussion with the administration on this issue.
“There will be a meeting in Agartala on the issue of rehabilitation. So, the district magistrate had sent the officer. However, we would agree to the talks only if invited by the Chief Secretary or the Chief Minister”, Nath said.
He said that markets, shops, vehicles, schools, colleges, offices, and courts will be closed. The Joint Movement Committee has called on the people of Kanchanpur sub-division to make the strike a success.
Earlier in January, after signing the agreement, Union home minister Amit Shah had announced a 40×30 ft area plot to build a house, Rs 4 lakh as fixed deposit, financial aid of Rs 5,000 per month along with free ration supply for the next two years to all the Bru families. To build houses, an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh will also be provided to every family.
The Tripura government had identified a total of 3,600 hectares of land in 11 locations in list one for resettling 4, 900 families comprising 33,000 people across the state.
Of the total identified lands, six locations– CCRF under Anandabazar, Bikramjoy Para, Nandiram Para, Manu Manpui, Banchiram Pusparam Para, and Kuki Nala area under North Tripura district.
While two locations— one in Teliamura and Sikari Bari area under Khowai district, West Kalajhari in Amarpur subdivision in Gomati district, one in Dhalai district and the other at Boxanagar in Sepahijala district.
The JMC convener Susanta Bikash Barua and Chairman JMC Dr Zairemthiama Pachuau on September 9 said that in principle, the members of JMC are not ‘against’ the Quadrilateral Bru Settlement Agreement signed in New Delhi on 16 January 2020.
“We congratulate and welcome the Agreement. However, we are still maintaining our logical stand that equitable distribution of families in all the Districts and Sub-Divisions is critically important. This will ensure that there are no negative social, cultural, political, environmental, and ecological impacts on our Kanchanpur Sub-Division,” the leaders said.
The two local organisations have been protesting the resettlement of Brus since December last year, after the government proposed to settle several families in the Kanchanpur sub-division.
The leaders had alleged that since the arrival of Brus in 1997, there has been a rise in crime and ethnic tension between the locals and Brus in the Kanchanpur subdivision resulting in loss of property and lives.
Meanwhile, Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman, the Tripura royal scion and chairman of The Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) met with the chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb and stressed the immediate settlement of the Bru migrants in the state.
“I have met with the chief minister and urged him to expedite the settlement of the Bru families as per the agreement signed in January. We also have a meeting with the chief secretary and home ministry officials in presence of the Bru leaders at civil secretariat,” Deb Barman said.