Bru migrants living in Tripura Saturday sought assistance from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to continue relief, rations, cash dole and supplies for Bru refugees after the expiry of package deadline on March 31. The package was extended to six transit camps where over 32,000 Brus are sheltered since 1997.
The central rehabilitation package granted in 1998 to Bru migrants living in Tripura currently, allows Rs 5 per day to each adult migrant, Rs 2.5 to each minor, 600 gram rice to each adult on a daily basis, three soaps in a year, one pair of slippers every year and a mosquito net once in every three years.
Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF) secretary Bruno Msha and president Apeto Sawibunga wrote to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba saying ration supplies, cash dole and other relief benefits are being given to the Bru relief camps as per MHA instruction issued on January 11 this year. However, the order says supplied relief benefits would only continue till March 31, post which it will be discontinued.
“The Election Commission of India (ECI) has declared the date of 17th Parliamentary Election on 9th March 2019 which will commence from 11th till 19th April 2019 with the result being declared on May 23 2019. In the meantime, as per the decision of the MHA……..the relief ration, cash dole and other relief facilities which are being provided to the displaced Brus will be discontinued from 31st March 2019,” the letter reads.
It also said that no meeting on repatriation of Bru migrants was held between the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG), central government, Government of Tripura, Government of Mizoram or Bru migrant leaders since the Mizo National Front (MNF)-led government was formed in Mizoram.
“We would like to appeal…to kindly reconsider your decision for discontinuation of relief and take the initiative to continue the relief ration, cash dole and other relief facilities till the displaced Brus are repatriated to Mizoram,” MBDPF leaders wrote to the MHA secretary.
The migrant leaders have also requested the Election Commission of India to set up polling booths inside relief camps for a smooth, free and fair election.
Brus living in Tripura had to travel to Kanhmun in Mamit district of Mizoram to cast their votes during Mizoram assembly elections held in November last year. “Poll turnout was low in assembly election from Bru camps last year….so, we have appealed to set up polling booths inside the relief camps so that all voters can exercise their universal adult franchise rights,” the Bru leaders reasoned.
Over 37,000 Bru refugees fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram during ethnic clashes in 1997. They sought refuge in neighbouring Tripura and were sheltered in six major relief camps at Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions of North Tripura district, where most of them live till today.
In eight phases of repatriation held till now, nearly 7,000 Brus have returned home.