Silchar: There now seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for more than 30,000 Bru refugees uprooted from their hearths and homes in the wake of the ethnic violence of 1997. For the last 16 years, these Brus have been languishing in 6 relief camps of Kanchanpur in North Tripura, surviving mainly on the cash doles and rations provided by the Centre. Undergoing trials and tribulations, series of talks involving the Centre, the States of Mizoram and Tripura as well as Bru organizations, nothing concrete could emerge for a solution for the return of the refugees. Only 1369 of them agreed to repatriation as per an agreement signed on July 3, 2018.
A positive development raised hope among the refugees when the Tripura government gave its nod for their settlement on its land. The families willing to settle will be provided a rehabilitation package by the Centre. Those families who returned to Mizoram shall not be allowed to resettle in Tripura. It was decided that the government of Tripura will carry out a fresh physical verification to ascertain the exact number of refugees for resettlement. The process of resettlement will be carried out as per the schedule of an agreement signed on January 16, 2020, in New Delhi. The existing relief camps will be closed down after that.
The Centre would consider favourably any request from the Tripura government for financial and other logistic help for facilitating resettlement. Inconsistent with the agreement signed amongst the Centre, the states of Tripura, Mizoram, and Bru organizations in New Delhi, all necessary requirements like physical verification, financial assistance, and free ration, identification and allotment of land, movement to resettlement locations, construction of dwelling houses and payment of all installments of house building assistance have to be finalized within the stipulated time frame detailed in the agreement.
Resettled Brus will be entitled to the benefits of social schemes sponsored by the Centre and the Tripura government. Eklavya tribal residential schools will be set up in villages of resettled areas. A Joint Monitoring Committee comprising Special Secretary (Internal Security) MHA, Joint Secretary (North East), Additional Chief Secretary (Forest), and Principal Secretary, (Revenue), Government of Tripura, one representative each of Bru organizations and the Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance( ITPA) to oversee the implementation of the Agreement. The Agreement was signed in presence of Amit Shah, Union Home Minister, Zoramthanga, Chief Minister of Mizoram and Biplob Deb, Chief Minister of Tripura as well as Himanta Biswa Sarma, Finance.
Bruno Msha, general secretary, Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum, said over telephone from New Delhi, “We are extremely happy that at last agreement could be signed and our days of long-suffering will now end.” Laldingliana, another frontline leader, described “January 16 as a historic day for the displaced refugees.” Bru leaders and organizations expressed their gratefulness to Amit Shah, Union Home Minister, and his team of officials as well as Biplob Kumar Deb, Chief Minister of Tripura, for their human approach and positive outcome.