Amid protests against the permanent resettlement of Mizoram’s Bru migrants in Tripura, five Bru organisations have written to the state government and proposed five alternate rehabilitation spots and requested to convert three existing relief camps at Kanchanpur, 160 km from Agartala, into permanent rehabilitation spots.
In January this year, the Government of India signed a quadrupartite agreement to finalise a resolution to the 23-year-old Bru displacement crisis in Tripura and announced that over 33,000 migrants, languishing in six relief camps since October 1997, would be rehabilitated permanently in the state. The Centre has declared declared a Rs 600-crore package for resettling these migrants in clusters.
As part of the resettlement process, the state government approved 15 spots for resettling the Bru migrants on September 19 after a series of discussions with Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath, Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar and video conference with revenue officials.
Voicing future social, cultural and security concerns at five of these locations, four Bru organisations, namely Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF), Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Coordination Committee (MBDPCC), Bru Tribal Development Society (BTDS) and Mizoram Bru Indigenous Democratic Movement (MBIDM), today wrote to Chief Secretary and requested to change Katuacherra in North Tripura, Dhanuramara in Dhalai district, Ichapur village in Unakoti district, Shikaribari in Khowai and Anandapur in Sephijala districts on grounds of local community objections, lack of sufficient jhum space and other issues.
However, the Bru organisations have accepted 10 out of the 15 proposed locations and urged the government to start the resettlement process. They have also expressed concern over movements held recently by Kanchanpur Nagarik Suraksha Mancha and Mizo Convention alleging that these agitations can provoke communal unrest.
“All the activities being carried out by these organizations under the banner of Joint Movement Committee are more than enough and beyond a limit. Otherwise, communal misunderstanding and conflict may break out across Tripura, Mizoram and Assam if these two organizations are handing the law at their hand,” MBDPF general secretary Bruno Msha said.
While the Bru migrants have sought to convert three existing relief camps of Naisingpara, Ashapara and Hezacherra into resettlement villages, they have also requested to consider five alternate spots, including Phuldungsei village near Bethlingchhip peak on Jampui Hills, where 130 villagers carry dual domicile documents from Tripura and Mizoram.
“…resettlement of Bru IDPs at Bethlingchhip or Sibraikhong is mandatory to preserve the territory of Tripura. Therefore, it is our fervent request to the government of Tripura to make resettlement for 500 families at the said location if the government of Tripura is keen to safeguard the boundary of Tripura from Mizoram,” they said.
Over 37,000 Brus fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram in 1997 following ethnic clashes. Nearly 5,000 of them returned in nine phases of repatriation, though many sought shelter in North Tripura in 2009.
Six months after the Brus fled Mizoram in October 1997, the Centre announced a relief package which provides them with Rs 5 per day for adults and Rs 2.5 for minors. As for ration supplies, they get 600 gram of rice for every adult migrant and half that amount for minors daily, along with some salt. Every since, nine phases of repatriation have taken place till the Centre agreed on resettlement formula this year.