Displaced Bru refugees from Mizoram who are living in makeshift transit camps in Tripura since last 22 years, submitted a memorandum addressed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah through Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Abhedananda Baidya on Monday.
The memorandum sought a suspension to all ongoing initiatives of repatriation till their demands are fulfilled.
The demands include the immediate release of ration supplies in the camps, which is halted since October 1, rearrangement of rehabilitation centres in Mizoram, allocation of sufficient land for habitation in post-repatriation phase, one-time payment of cash benefits among other issues.
37,000 people of the Bru community fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram during ethnic strife in 1997. They took shelter in six makeshift relief camps in Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions of North Tripura district. Twenty-two years on, 32 thousand of them continue to live in these relief camps.
Around 5,000 Bru returned in eight phases of repatriation held till today. In the ongoing ninth phase of repatriation which started from October 3, around 350 have returned so far.
After MHA Special Secretary (Internal Security) AP Maheswari told the Brus during a four-corner meeting on October 16 that current repatriation phaser would be the last, A group of Bru organizations including the Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Forum (MBDPF), Mizoram Bru Indigenous Democratic Movement (MBIDM), Bru Tribal Development Society (BTDS), Bru Displaced Women Welfare Committee (BDWWC) held a rally and submitted the memorandum to SDM Abhedananda Baidya demanding the repatriation to be stopped forthwith.
“…the displaced Brus are reluctant to repatriate due to non-consideration of minimum and simple demands raised by the MBDPF which are under the framework of the ‘Quadrilateral Agreement’…” the memorandum reads. It also says that the repatriation is not held through peaceful means but is coerced since ration supplies were stopped in the Bru camps before commencing their return to Mizoram.
Appealing the centre to have Mizoram stop sending vehicles for repatriation, the memorandum said, “There will wastage of money and chance of misappropriation of repatriation package if the central government does not give direction to Mizoram to stop sending vehicles”.
Speaking to indianexpress.com later this evening, MBDPF general secretary Bruno Msha said they have demanded favourable benefits of all Bru displacees living in Tripura. The memo includes the demand for compensation for ‘new’ Bru displacees who arrived in Tripura in 2009 after fresh ethnic conflict.
“We have also demanded compensation for families who were rejected by the Government of Mizoram in an identification drive held in July. Since many of the camp inmates are concerned about security after repatriation, we have demanded deployment of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) security and creation of Special Police Officers (SPO) in the pattern of Tripura by recruiting Bru youths,” Bruno told this publication.
Kanchanpur SDM Abhedananda Baidya was not available for his comments on the issue.