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Camps of Bru refugees in Tripura | File image Credit: EastMojo image

Agartala: Thousands of displaced Bru migrants are reluctant to vacate the relief camps located in the North Tripura’s Kanchanpur subdivision expressing reservations about migrating out of the district to get permanently settled in other parts of the state, an official told EastMojo in the condition of anonymity.

General Secretary, Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum, Bruno Msha confirmed that a sizable number of families have refused to vacate the relief camps as they did not feel they could settle or be comfortable at the sites allocated to them.

“There are around 2,000 Bru families who haven’t signed the consent paper which is a prerequisite to start the resettlement process. From our side, we have informed the Bru community leaders to ensure that all the families sign the consent papers in time otherwise it would be difficult to complete the resettlement process within the stipulated deadline,” the official said.

The Bru community had been given a deadline by the state government (August 31) by when the consent papers are required to be signed and submitted to the sub-divisional administration.

“They are saying that some of the locations finalised for the resettlement are not suitable. They want to settle within the Kanchanpur sub-division where they have been staying for the last 34 years following the ethnic clashes in Mizoram. They don’t want to migrate to other sub-divisions, but settling such a huge number of families within one sub-division will create further problems. A total of 1,250 families have been selected to be resettled in Kanchanpur subdivisions in two locations—Bhandarima (500), and Gachirampara (750). Hopefully construction works in these two places will be complete by the end of this year,” the official added.

Speaking on the issue, Bru leader Bruno Msha said, “A good number of families are not willing to shift because they feel they will be left alone in those places. In the first relocation areas: Manu-Chailengta CCRF, Bikramjoy, Anandabazar and Nandiram were identified as locations where displaced Bru people would be settled. Unfortunately, the decision caused a stir in these areas led by organisations like Nagarik Suraksha Mancha and Mizo convention.”

As the local communities were against Bru resettlement in those pockets, he explained, the government had to reconsider its idea and substitute spots were identified in South Tripura, Sepahijala, Dhalai and Khowai districts.

“Now the Bru people are reluctant to go there because they have adapted to the local culture of the North Tripura district as they stayed here for more than three decades. They have developed good relations with the local communities be it tribal or non-tribal. Getting resettled in another area will be like a fresh start. This is why some families are refusing the government offers repeatedly,” said Msho.

Sources say the state government may take some drastic steps like stopping rations for the displaced people living in the relief camps. Bru leaders have appealed to the government that instead of jumping to any robust conclusion, it should build confidence among the families to accept the proposal.

Earlier, Secretary Tripura Revenue Department Puneet Agarwal said over 50 per cent Bru families eligible to get benefits under the quadripartite agreement have received resettlement in eight of the eleven selected locations. “We are yet to receive a list of around 2,500 families to process the resettlement,” he said.

He said, after the quadripartite agreement, a total of 6,159 families were found eligible for permanent settlement. The total population stands at 37,136. So far, a total of 3,332 families have been resettled. Moreover, related construction works such as setting up health sub-centres, Anganwadi Centres, installation of solar power plants etc. are in progress at all the selected locations, he informed the press.   

The quadripartite agreement between Tripura, Mizoram, Bru leaders and the Central Government was signed on January 16, 2020 almost 23 years after members of the Bru community fled from neighbouring Mizoram to seek shelter in Tripura’s north district. They were staying at six relief camps located within the limits of Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-division under North Tripura district. The Bru displacement is still considered to be one of the biggest displacements of the North East region.  

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