Mizoram’s rigid stand dashes hope of early Bru repatriation

From Special Correspondent

Agartala/Aizawl, Feb 16: A meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) involving the representatives of Ministry of Home Affairs, Governments of Mizoram and Tripura as well as Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Forum (MBDPF) was held at BSF Frontier headquarters, Guwahati, last Sunday. In all, 22 points of discussions were taken up followed by decisions. A Sawibunga, President, MBDPF, briefing The Sentinel over phone from isingpara relief camp, Tripura, said, “The talks began with a bang to end in a whimper, eclipsing the repatriation of 43,000 Bru refugees languishing in the camps since 1997.”

According to him, the Forum took exception to the stand of the Chairman of the JMG, Mahesh Kumar Singla, IPS, Special Secretary (Interl Security), MHA, to write the minutes at the dictates of the Mizoram Government. The discussion started with the vexed issue of electoral rolls. It was pleaded by MBDPF that those attaining 18 years of age in the camps should be included in the revised rolls before repatriation. The Government of Mizoram left it to the CEC to decide, absolving itself of any responsibility.

The persistent demand for 5 hectares of land to each family was rejected. So was the demand for the villages resettlement after repatriation. Brus wanted to first live in temporary shelters for which the Mizoram Government would not take any responsibility or extend any help. Similarly, the demand for cluster or model villages as well as centrally sponsored CBSE schools with facility of learning through mother tongue were also ruled out. Surprisingly, the prayer of the Brus for following their traditiol Hindu faith along with all the rituals and rites as well as establishment of temples was not even taken for consideration.

The argument advanced was that even the Christians were facing problems around the world in practicing their religion and even in propagating their faith. This was a common problem, not exclusively for the Brus. The MBDPF representatives were also disappointed to hear that no special police force for Brus could be created. Government jobs too was resented. Cash assistance, basic facilities of education, health, drinking water, roads and electricity would be considered only after their repatriation. However, the Mizoram Government consented to provide list of families to be repatriated, but the issue of Adhaar Cards and ST certificates remained unresolved. The Forum reminded that for centuries, Brus have been living in the areas of Dampa sanctuary and they should be rehabilitated there as well as in the Mumit district. Another argument of the Bru leaders for granting them Autonomous District Council on the pattern of Lai, Chakma and Mara and Chhinlung Development Council for Hmar as well as Sialkul Range Development Council for Paite community was also not taken for consideration. To the demand of the Brus for setting up of grievance cell and helpline for them in case of any difficulty, the reply was in the negative. Neither would there be IRB for Brus nor civic action programme by Assam Rifles or BSF.

The Forum’s request for consideration of repatriation of the 600 families displaced from their tive land of Mizoram in 2009 should be considered. On this issue too, there was no positive response from the Mizoram Government. The Forum members were disappointed at the outcome of the JMG meeting. Their hopes of early repatriation were virtually dashed and they also do not expect much from the next round of meeting. Those who attended the meeting included Mahesh Kumar Singla, IPS, Special Secretary (Interl Security), MHA, Ajit Debth,     Joint Residence Commissioner, Tripura Bhavan, Lalbiakzama, Additiol Secretary (Home), Mizoram, David H Lalthanglia, OSD-cum-Under Secretary, Mizoram, Vanlalruata, Vice president, Central Young Mizo Association, Elvis Chorkhy, Chairman, Bru Coordition Committee, Mizoram, A Sawibunga, President, MBDPF,  Bruno Msha, General Secretary, MBDPF, Dr. Dhanjay Reang, Bru IDP member, New Delhi.