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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Nobody died from starvation: Tripura govt tells NHRC on Bru hunger deaths

The Centre had suspended supplies from October 1 last year after the Bru migrants declined to return to Mizoram as per a repatriation package offered by government. 38 days later, the supplies resumed. Six persons died during this time.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala | Updated: March 19, 2020 8:10:03 pm
While rations have resumed, Mergoram worries about the new deadline of November 30, and asks what would change by then. (Express photo/File)

Four months after six Bru migrants died in Tripura during the 38 day suspension of ration supplies to their camps, the state government has informed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that nobody in the camps died from starvation.

Over 37,000 Brus fled Mamit, Kolasib, and Lunglei districts of Mizoram during ethnic clashes in 1997. They were sheltered in six relief camps approved by the government where they were allowed meager supplies for sustenance like 600 grams rice a day, some salt, Rs 5 cash daily dole for every adult, some soap, slippers and mosquito nets at different times. These supplies were suspended from October 1 last year after the migrants declined to return to Mizoram as per a repatriation package offered by government. 38 days later, the supplies resumed. Six persons died during this time.

Later, the central government signed a four-corner agreement with Bru migrants and state governments of Tripura and Mizoram to permanently settle them in Tripura. The process is still underway.

Meanwhile, in his ‘action taken report’ furnished to the Commission on March 5 this year in response to a complaint lodged on these deaths, North Tripura District Magistrate Raval Hamendra Kumar has informed that nobody named John Chongpreng, who was claimed to have died due to starvation, was found in official records. However, his report said a three-month-old baby John Changpuia died on October 31, 2019. The infant was suffering from fever with altered sensorium, which indicated a case of septicemia shock, his report said.

It also said that a child named Akosha Molshoy died during the suspension of food and ration supplies in the Bru camps. The DM confirmed his death but wrote, “The PM examination was conducted over the aforesaid dead body of the infant, viscera sent to Forensic Laboratory Agartala and as per forensic report it appeared that the death was not occured due to starvation.”

The report mentions that a four-month-old child was brought to a primary health centre in the area during road blockade set up by Bru migrants in November last year with gasping. “The child expired before medicine could be administered. According to the Medical Officer in-charge Gachirampara PHC, it was a case of pneumonia,” DM Hamendra Kumar’s report said.

A four-month-old girl named Pigili Reang also died during the ration supply suspension. The District Magistrate informed that the girl was not admitted to any healthcare centre in Tripura and there is no available records of her hospitalisation. However, the inquiries revealed that she was treated by a doctor in Zawinuam in Mizoram a day before her death. “From the above sad enquiry it appears that the girl child was suffering from some diseases and it was not a case of starvation death”, the DM’s report to NHRC says.

60-year-old Maloti Reang died at her makeshift hut inside one of the six Bru camps in Tripura on October 31 last year. Her body was cremated before post mortem examination could be done, the official wroe in his report but added that report collected from ‘ground sources’, revealed that the woman was suffering from ‘unknown disease’ and so, it was a case if natural death and not starvation.

The report also mentioned 65-year-old Bistirung Reang who expired on November 03 at the Bru camp and claimed she did not die due to starvation.

“The dead body was buried which was exhumed by deputing Executive Magistrate, Police and conducted PM examination viscera sent to Forensic Laboratory Agartala and as per forensic report, it appeared that the death was not due to starvation..”, the report reads.

Raval Hamendra Kumar’s report further states that a complaint lodged with the NHRC named three inmates of the relief camp were admitted at Kanchanpur Hospital who died due to starvation. Citing their names as Ramjoy Reang, 65, Khubarbati Reang, 60 and Dobokumar Reang, 55 from the complaint, the DM said that an enquiry report submitted by the Sub-Divisional Medical Officer of Kanchanpur claimed no inmate with such names were ever admitted at the said hospital as per admission record register.

This comes four months after these people died in six Bru camps in North Tripura’s Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions.

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