Administration geared up to start Bru repatriation from Oct. 3
Aizawl, Sep. 26 (PTI): With only a week left for the ninth and final repatriation of Bru refugees from Tripura to their home state Mizoram, preparation for the exercise is on in full swing, an official said here on Thursday.
Altogether 4,447 Bru families, lodged in six relief camps in Tripura, were scheduled to return to the neighbouring state from where they had fled since 1997 following ethnic clashes.
The exercise is scheduled to begin on October 3.
“We informed the Bru people in the relief camps through their leaders that elaborate arrangements were made for their return to Mizoram,” state Home Secretary Lalbiakzama told PTI after a meeting of all the stakeholders.
Besides Lalbiakzama, officials of Mizoram and Tripura governments, and representatives of the Bru refugees living in relief camps attended the meeting, possibly the last one before the physical repatriation starts.
“There was no time for making fresh demands,” Lalbiakzama said about the demands recently made by the apex body of the refugees, Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum, as a pre-condition to return to Mizoram.
The Centre has approved Rs 350 crore for the ninth phase of repatriation and the amount covers transportation and rehabilitation package expenses, which include Rs 5,000 per month for each resettled Bru family in Mizoram and free ration for them for two years.
The Mizoram government has identified members of 4,447 Bru families lodged in the relief camps as bona fide residents of the state last month.
The home secretary had earlier said all the identified families expressed willingness to return to Mizoram though obstruction from hard-liners and anti-repatriation elements cannot be ruled out.
Eight attempts had been made to repatriate the Brus, also called Reangs, and only around 1,681 families have returned to Mizoram since 2010 and were resettled in Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts.
The vexed Bru problem started when the Bru people, spearheaded by an organisation, Bru National Union, demanded a separate autonomous district council by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura in September, 1997.
The situation was aggravated by the murder of a forest guard in the Dampa Tiger Reserve in western Mizoram by Bru National Liberation Front insurgents on October 21, 1997.
The first attempt to repatriate the Brus from Tripura from November 16, 2009 not only fizzled out due to the murder of a Mizo youth at Bungthuam village on November 13, 2009, but also triggered another wave of exodus.
The last repatriation exercise in 2018 also did not bore much fruit.