Eight days after they started an indefinite road blockade in North Tripura, Bru migrants living in relief camps here withdrew their agitation Thursday, after Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Devvarman announced restoring of ration supplies to the camps.
The supplies were stopped by the Government of India from October 1 this year, after the migrants refused to return to Mizoram under a repatriation package announced by the Centre.
“We have good news for you. We the state government have decided to provide ration to the Bru camps. Food will be supplied in the camps from tomorrow and will continue till November 30,” Deputy CM Devvarman told the migrants sitting on a road blockade in Dasda-Anandabazaar area.
Apart from the deputy CM, the delegation that met the migrants at Laxmipur Special Police Officer (SPO) camp included law minister Ratan Lal Nath, tribal welfare minister Mevar Kumar Jamatia, minister for social welfare and social education Santana Chakma and MPs Pratima Bhowmik and Rebati Kumar Tripura.
Devvarman said his government feels Bru migrants have their future in dignified repatriation and settlement in Mizoram. He also invited migrant leaders for a dialogue at Agartala to decide on a formula for their return.
Reacting to the government’s decision, Mizoram Bru Displaced Persons Forum (MBDPF) general secretary Bruno Msha told indianepress.com, “We are happy with the decision to resume food supplies in the camps. We were hungry. This is a welcome move.”
However, he reiterated that problems of their repatriation to Mizoram, owing to which they had refused to return in the first place, are yet to be solved.
A delegation of the migrant leaders started for New Delhi earlier today, to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and rework the repatriation agreement signed in June 2018.
Mailyabati Reang, a 65-year-old Bru migrant woman, who was sitting on the road blockade for the past eight days, said she was extremely happy at hearing her family would get food back in their plates.
Six migrants, including four infants, died in the camps in the last eight days. Bru leaders have alleged these deaths were caused by starvation. At least 50 others were hospitalised after they collapsed due to exhaustion. Deputy CM Devvarman, however, denied knowledge of starvation deaths in the camps.
As many as 37,000 Bru migrants fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram to Tripura in 1997 in the wake of ethnic violence. Nearly 5,000 have returned in eight phases of repatriation over the years. In the ongoing ninth phase, 700 had gone back, but it ran into trouble over the migrants’ demands for Autonomous District Councils (ADC) or cluster villages in Mizoram. Thirty-two thousand migrant Brus still live in six relief camps of Tripura.