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Bru repatriation: After 20 years of exile, time to return

Special Correspondent

Silchar, July 7: After languishing 20 years in the camps of north Tripura, around 30,000 Bru displaced persons from their homeland of Mizoram are set to return to their native land. This is following the four corner meeting of the Centre involving the governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Mizo Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) on July 3 at New Delhi. Regional media has been reporting time and again the extreme mental and physical agonies of these refugees, but neither the state of Mizoram nor the Tripura government has been coordinating to evolve any strategy for their repatriation.

Ultimately, the various social outfits of Sangha Parivar took the initiative and moved the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for adopting a positive approach. It was due to the sustained and sincere efforts of these social bodies that the four corner meeting could be held that led to solution of the most vexed Bru issue. The Centre did declare a package for their relief and rehabilitation, but the MBDPF had added a few of its legitimate demands for allotment of land, grouping of villages or cluster of villages and provision of security among others. But, Bruno Msha, general secretary of the Forum, talking to The Sentinel from Kanchanpur, Tripura, said, “We have to climb down on some of our specific demands, considering the overall ramification of staying in the jungles of Tripura and the future of the community as a whole.”

According to the package agreed upon at the four corner meeting, each Bru family would get Rs.4 lakh and free ration for two years. Besides, each family would get Rs.5000 per month as financial assistance. It is significant to note that The Sentinel is the only English daily in north east which has given wide coverage on their plight since their exodus to Tripura jungle in 1997 following the ethnic clash in Mizoram. It is also significant that Lok Sabha TV was the first among all the national channels which went down deep into the jungle-infested camps of refugees and made a documentary on their sad condition. It was the initiative of Lok Sabha producer Mamata Singha.

In all fairness, it was after the coming to power of Biplab Deb led BJP government in Tripura that the process of repatriation took the right direction which took Mizoram government into confidence, besides moving the Union Home Ministry. Added to this was also the initiative of Sangha Parivar. It is very difficult to imagine how the men, women and children, infirm and sick Brus have passed through the trials and tribulations of life.

They have been afflicted with diseases, mostly water born, time to time in which more than 2000 people lost their life. The camps did not have better health structure, education facilities, safe drinking water provisions as well as basic amenities. In this situation, the Forum thought it wise to opt for the package and return to their native land. Bruno Msha admitted, “We have to take decision to save the generations of young Brus”.

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Sentinel Group