Credit: EastMojo Image

Agartala: The hillocks at Haduklau, a tribal hamlet at Longterai range of Tripura’s Dhalai district is now dotted with small houses, which are the new address for many of the Bru community, who fled their homes in Mizoram 25 year ago following ethnic conflicts.

Over 400 Bru people left a relief camp to set up houses on land provided by the government as a move to permanently solve the `refugee’ status of the community.

Thousands of the Bru tribal people have been living in relief camps in Tripura since 1997. They had fled their ancestral homeland in Mizoram to reach the neighbouring state, victims of ethnic clashes. By now, the number of the internally displaced people has risen to over 37,136.

Altogether 426 people belonging to 92 families living in Naisinghpara camp in Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura district were brought to Haduklau in Dhalai district, an official said.

Sub-divisional Magistrate of Kanchanpur, Subhash Acharya said more than 37000 Reang/Bru people from Mizoram were sheltered in seven camps for more than 25-years in Kanchanpur subdivision and with the rehabilitation package coming into effect all the displaced people would be vacated from the subdivision and rehabilitated in different parts of the state by August 31 this year.

Thalirung Reang (45), a member of the displaced Bru community finally has a permanent home in the village. A visibly happy Thalirung said, We have got land, money to construct our own house. English medium schools were set up for our kids and we were assured by the administration that Antoday cards would be given to us for subsidised ration .

They are the first batch, who were rehabilitated, following an agreement signed in January last year among representatives of the community, the Centre and the governments of Tripura and Mizoram.

A 1,200 square feet plot has been allotted to each rehabilitated Bru family and Rs 1.5 lakh provided by the government to set up a home.

The agreement guarantees a fixed deposit of Rs 4 lakh for each family, a monthly sum of Rs 5,000 and free monthly ration for two years besides setting up of schools in all cluster villages.

“The process of settling the Bru tribes exiled for 25 years in Tripura begun last year. The central government under the leadership of PM has taken a humanitarian view and worked to solve the problem,” Union Minister of state for social empowerment Pratima Bhowmick said.

Dr Manas Dev, an officer on special duty (OSD), who oversees the entire rehabilitation process, said that 1,638 Bru families were rehabilitated at four places – Haduklau and Bongaphapara in Dhalai district and Cascao and Waimbukcherra-Ranipara in North Tripura district.

Altogether 6,959 families would be rehabilitated in 14 places of the state.

The SDM said, all Bru people would be rehabilitated on or before August 31 in different places of the state including in Kalajhari hills in Amarpur subdivision of Gomati district.

Their houses were built in Kalajhari hills and other parts of the state. More than 21000 people of more than 3000 families are yet to be rehabilitated, who would be given settlement by August 31 and all the people would be vacated from the Kanchanpur subdivision , he said.

The vexed Bru issue started in September, 1997, following demands for a separate autonomous district council for the community by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura. A large number of Bru people fled from Mizoram to Tripura as ethnic clashes broke out.

The Centre, along with the governments of Tripura and Mizoram, had been trying to repatriate them to their home state over the past decade, with little success.

The first attempt to repatriate the Brus from Tripura was made in November 2009 and the last one in 2019.

Several Bru families have refused to return to Mizoram, citing security concerns and inadequate rehabilitation package. Some have also sought a separate autonomous council for the community.

However, the January 2020 agreement has allowed these tribal people to permanently settle in Tripura.

Under the quadripartite pact, the Home Ministry has committed to incur the whole expenditure of settlement and the package assured in the accord that each refugee family would get a plot, fixed deposit of Rs 4 lakh, free ration and a monthly stipend of Rs 5,000 for two years.

In addition, each family will also be provided Rs 1.5 lakh to construct a house.

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