The Ministry of Home Affairs has agreed to organize a six-month repatriation process for displaced Bru tribals after which all those who do not return home from Tripura will be removed from Mizoram’s electoral rolls and no further relief will be provided to them, Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana said on Monday.
The minister said that steps will be taken to improve the living conditions of the Bru tribals and financial aid allotted to them will also be doubled.
The decisions were taken at a January 30 meeting of MHA Joint Secretary Shambhu Singh, MHA Director (North East) J P N Singh, Tripura’s Additional Secretary for Revenue K M Das and Officer on Special Duty to Mizoram’s Home Department David H Lalthangliana.
The decisions will be drafted in an affidavit to be filed before the Social Justice bench of the Supreme Court, which is currently deciding on a couple of petitions about the welfare of displaced Brus who fled Mizoram en-masse in 1997 following ethnic violence.
“The MHA has decided that all those who currently remain in the relief camps should be repatriated to Mizoram within six months and whoever does not come back in that time will be removed from Mizoram’s electoral rolls,” R Lalzirliana said, adding the MHA will no longer consider them as “refugees” and stop any further aid.
Official records show almost 4,000 Bru families who have voting rights in Mizoram continue to live in the relief camps in Tripura.
The state Home Minister also said that Mizoram and Tripura have been asked to draw up a detailed action plan and submit them to the MHA.
He said that officials from the MHA, Tripura and Mizoram would also meet with Bru relief camp leaders on February 20 at Tripura’s Kanchanpur town to inform them about the repatriation plan.
Bru relief camps leaders have often complained that the Tripura government makes life very difficult in the camps so that they have no inclination to remain there. They allege that the government is wary of an increase in the state’s tribal population, and it has already allotted the lands occupied by the relief camps to local tribals under the FRA.
At the same time, these Bru leaders have been opposing the repatriation process saying those who return should be given better rehabilitation packages and enough land for them to live together for the community’s overall security.
Bru leaders in Mizoram have, meanwhile, steadfastly supported the government’s repatriation process.