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Bru crisis: Most refugees reluctant to return to Mizoram

From Special Correspondent

Aizawl, Feb 21: As directed by Mahesh Kumar Singla, IPS, Special Secretary (Interl Security), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), following the meeting at BSF Frontier Headquarters at Guwahati on February 12 last, Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Forum (MBDPF) today sent to him 9 point reply on their specific demands. This information was shared with The Sentinel by e-mail today from isingpara, the headquarters of MBDPF. The meeting, as revealed, was held involving the MHA, Mizoram, Tripura Governments and the Forum.

The reply is based on the consensus that emerged at the public meetings held in all the 7 relief camps of Kanchanpur in North Tripura. The opinion centres round the package for repatriation offered by the MHA as well as the stand of the Mizoram Government on it. The MHA has been intimated about the disappointment and resentment of the camp settlers on the repatriation package. The general opinion is that there is no survivable infrastructure for the families after their return to Mizoram. If accepted, the refugees will be reduced to slaves forever.

The general impression gathered among the inmates is that the initiative of the Mizoram Government for repatriation was nothing but cosmetic only to take advantage of the central allocation of funds. The Forum leaders came in for severe criticism for accepting such package instead of rejecting it outright. The Forum leaders have clarified their consistency in placing their demands without changing their stand at any stage. Rather, the Forum has always been for amicable settlement without sacrificing their demands. The government officials, they held, have given circulation to those parts of information which has suited them best. The demands of MBDPF are quite legitimate and within the framework of the Constitution of India.

It is relevant to mention that the repatriation is caught in logjam due to the refusal of the Mizoram Government to take into consideration their basic and minimum demands for survival. Accordingly, all the inmates who attended the meetings have shown their opinion by raising right hands to indicate their unwillingness to return to Mizoram. The grounds cited are that there has been outright rejection by the Government of Mizoram for allotment of 5 hectares of land for the repatriated families for agriculture.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs also failed to give either strong direction to Mizoram Government or to find any altertive solution. Suppression of freedom to select the villages where the displaced Brus want to live and force them to be rehabilitated in the villages which Mizoram has selected. The areas demarcated for the Brus are all cliff, steep slopes and edge on the majority villages and towns surrounded by private and departmental lands which are unsuitable for human habitation. No enhancement of cash assistance has been made till date except the verbal assurance made by the MHA. Therefore, the repatriated families have to receive only Rs.80,000/- per family which has been granted in 2005. The Mizoram Government totally rejected the request to conduct identification of remaining more than 1,000 families before the commencement of next repatriation who have been left out during the Census conducted by Mizoram in November 2016 due to non-availability of Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) of the state.

Nor there has been any consideration for cash assistance and other repatriation package to more than 600 families forced to migrate from Mizoram in the year 2009 for safety and security of their lives. There has also been no consideration on the formation of grouping or model villages. On the contrary, they are to settle down in a scattered manner in three districts of Kolasib, Mamit and Lunglei. This sort of resettlement will only push them to a state of insecurity. (IANS)