Mizoram officials have re-identified 26,128 Bru refugees belonging to 4,278 families lodged in six relief camps in North Tripura district, state Home Secretary Lalbiakzama said on Monday.
The re-identification of the bona fide residents of Mizoram, as part of the repatriation process of the Bru refugees lodged in the relief camps, was completed on July 20, Lalbiakzama said.
The figure was not final as scrutiny would be held after a meeting with the officials, who returned from Tripura, the home secretary said.
Officials from Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts conducted the head count to figure out who are willing to return to Mizoram, from where the Bru community people had fled to Tripura in 1997 due to ethnic unrest.
Lalbiakzama told PTI that the officials undertook the second phase of identification from July 3 and completed the exercise within the timeframe of July 20.
In the previous head count conducted in November last, 32,876 Brus belonging to 5,407 families were found in the relief camps in North Tripura district.
Of them, only 33 families had returned during repatriation in 2018 and 5,374 Bru families were estimated to have been remaining in the relief camps.
The re-identification was necessitated as there is a possibility of change in the number of people in the camps due to births and deaths, and availability of proper documents, official sources said.
The state government was making preparations for the final round of repatriation of the Bru people from Tripura to Mizoram which is scheduled to begin in early September, the home secretary said.
“It will depend on the weather, and of course the preparedness of the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as Tripura government, as coordinated efforts of all the stake-holders are crucial,” he said. All the identified families expressed their willingness to return to Mizoram though opposition from hardliners and anti repatriation elements could not be ruled out, he said.
The Centre, in association with the governments of Mizoram and Tripura, had been repatriating the displaced Brus in phases.
The Centre, state governments of Mizoram and Tripura and the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), the apex body of the Bru community in the relief camps, had on July 3, 2018 signed an agreement for repatriation of all the Bru refugees from Tripura before September 30 last.
As the move did not succeed, it was decided to resume the process this year.
The Centre had earlier decided to discontinue all kinds of subsistence allowances, including ration supplies and cash dole, to the Bru refugees from October 1 last year, but continued with the assistance on humanitarian grounds.
Meanwhile, the Bru refugees recently demanded that Mizoram government resettle them in southern Mizoram due to “shortage of land” in Mamit and Kolasib districts where majority of them were to be resettled, the sources said.
The state government rejected the demand saying that the July 3 agreement should stand, the sources said.
According to the pact, the families would have to be resettled in those districts where they used to stay before fleeing to Tripura.
The Brus are in Tripura since late 1997 in the wake of a communal tension triggered by the murder of a forest guard inside the Dampa Tiger Reserve on October 21, 1997 by Bru National Liberation Front militants.
The first attempt to repatriate them in 2009 failed and triggered another wave of exodus after the killing of a youth three days before the commencement of the repatriation process.
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