Mizoram parties, civil society bodies hail Bru agreement
Aizawl, Jan. 17 (PTI): Political parties and civil society organisations of Mizoram on Friday welcomed the agreement that puts an end to the over two-decade-old Bru refugee crisis.
Thousands of Bru community people have been living in relief camps in Tripura since 1997. They had fled their homeland Mizoram to reach the neighbouring state because of ethnic clashes. By now, the number of these internally displaced people has risen to over 30,000.
Many Bru families have refused to return to Mizoram, citing security concerns and inadequate rehabilitation package. There has also been a demand for a separate autonomous council for the community.
Following an agreement signed by representatives of the Brus, the central, Tripura and Mizoram governments in New Delhi on Thursday, these tribal people will permanently settle in Tripura.
Political parties such as the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), Congress and the BJP, and civil society organisations like the Yong Mizo Association (YMA) and student bodies expressed happiness over the pact.
“It is a matter of joy that a pact, which would finally resolve the Brus imbroglio, has been finally inked. We are highly indebted to Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Mizoram government for their outstanding effort in signing the historic agreement,” YMA Central Committee general secretary Prof Lalnuntluanga said in a statement.
One good thing about the pact is names of the Bru people would now be permanently deleted from the state’s voter list, the YMA said.
Hailing the agreement as “historic”, the MNF expressed hope that the pact is materialized quickly.
In a statement, the Congress said it had made earnest efforts during its regime in the state to repatriate the Bru people or allow them to permanently settle in Tripura.
The party claimed that former chief minister Lal Thanhawla had proposed that those Bru people who are unwilling to return to Mizoram be allowed to live permanently in Tripura but it could not be materialised because of objections raised by the CPI(M)-led Left Front government.
The state BJP said neither the Congress nor the MNF could resolve the crisis for more than 20 years.
Welcoming the agreement, the state’s apex student body, Mizo Zirlai Pawl, asked the state government to ensure that those Bru families who had repatriated to the state are treated well and benefited from development schemes.
The agreement was signed one-and-a-half months after the latest initiative to send the Bru refugees back to Mizoram failed, as it was found that only 171 families of the targeted 4,447 returned to their homeland. The ninth round of repatriation began on October 3 and concluded on November 30.
The Brus are staying in six camps at Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions of North Tripura district. They get free ration and a cash dole from the Centre.
The vexed Bru issue started from September, 1997, following demands of a separate autonomous district council by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura.
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 that year.
The first attempt to repatriate the Brus from Tripura was made in November 2009.
The Centre, along with the governments of Tripura and Mizoram, had been trying to repatriate them to their home state over the past one decade, with little success.
the quadripartite agreement signed among the Centre, state governments of Tripura and Mizoram, and representatives of Bru to facilitate permanent settlement of Bru refugees in Tripura.
“We are happy with this agreement because it has allowed Bru migrants from Mizoram to permanently settle in Tripura. The Bru inmates, who are sheltered in six camps, would get all benefits of the package previously announced for repatriation to Mizoram,” MBDPF’s president Apeto Sawibunga said.
He said two other organisations — Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Coordination Committee (MBDPCC) and Mizoram Bru Indigenous Democratic Movement (MBIDM) — apart from the MBDPF have signed the agreement.
“All the representatives of the displaced Brus living in the camps have signed the agreement. So, we all hope that all inmates would be happy,” Sawibunga told reporters here.
Seeking to put an end to the 23-year-old Bru-Reang refugee crisis, a quadripartite agreement was signed on Thursday in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to facilitate permanent settlement of Bru refugees in Tripura.
The Bru tribals have been staying in Tripura in different relief camps after they fled Mizoram in 1997 following ethnic clashes between Bru and Mizo communities.
An agreement signed in July 2018 for repatriation of the Bru tribals to Mizoram did not materialise as majority of the community members refused to go back to Mizoram. So far, only 328 families have returned and settled in Mizoram.
Under the pact, Rs 4 lakh will be given to each Bru family in a fixed deposit account, Rs 5,000 per month for two years, a plot of land in Tripura and ration for two years. For all such assistance, the central government will provide Rs 600 crore.
However, a local civil society body of Kanchanpur comprising non-tribal members expressed its unhappiness over the agreement.
President of Nagarik Suraksha Mancha Ranjit Nath said, “We are not happy with the agreement because these Brus were responsible in many ways for damaging ethnic solidarity of tribals and non-tribals at Kanchanpur.”
But he did not elaborate on how they were responsible for damaging the solidarity.
The body had organised a series of protests, including strikes and mass sit-in- demonstrations, in North Tripura district on 11 point demands, including repatriation of Bru migrants to Mizoram.
“We shall continue our agitation. Our members would participate in a meeting to be held on January 26 to decide next course of action,” Nath said.