The repatriation of displaced Bru tribals sheltered in six relief camps in Kanchanpur sub-division of north Tripura will begin on August 25, officials said on Saturday.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Additional District Magistrate of North Tripura Aditi Majumder said the refugees would begin returning to Mizoram from August 25 and that the entire process is expected to be completed by September 25.
However, alleging that their demand for Area Development Council (ADC), cluster villages, one-time cash assistance and increased land allotment for agriculture and sustenance were rejected by the Centre, the Bru refugees have decided not to return.
A video of people protesting against the repatriation offer in Kanchanpur has gone viral on social media. “Our decision is final. We will not go back unless our demands are not included in the agreement,” Gobinda Reang from Ashapara refugee camp said.
Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Coordination Committee (MBDPCC) president L Laldingliana said, “We had placed our demands for ADC, cluster village and cash assistance. The MHA officials rejected the demands and said nothing more than assurances made in the agreement with the central government will be considered.”
Laldingliana added that the refugees at the Ashapara relief camp have denied the repatriation package and have sought ADC in Mizoram as a compulsory condition for return.
Around 170 km from Agartala, over 32,000 Reang displacement victims, who fled Mizoram after ethnic clashes in 1997, have been living in six transit camps for the last 21 years. Seven phases of repatriation were held but many who accepted repatriation also came back during these years.
On July 3, a delegation of Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF) had signed an agreement with the central and state governments of Mizoram for repatriation of 32,000 Bru refugees from 5,000 families sheltered in transit camps in Tripura. As per the repatriation agreement, refugees would be given Rs 1.5 lakh for housing assistance in three instalments, Rs four lakh for sustenance, free ration for two years and Rs 5,000 per month. However, the cash assistance of Rs four lakh would be provided only after three years of uninterrupted stay in Mizoram.
The arrangements in the agreement failed to go down well with the refugees following which the MHA officials offered to provide 90 per cent cash from the Rs four lakh assistance as bank loan immediately after the refugees’ return. The remaining amount would be provided after two years.
On Thursday, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Advisor Mahesh Kumar Singla, Special Secretary (Internal Affairs) Rina Mitra and Joint Secretary Satyendra Garg had met the Bru refugees at Damcherra Block Advisory Committee (BAC) hall near Tripura-Mizoram border. Additional District Collector of Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram and police officials from Tripura were also present in the meeting.
MBDPF secretary Bruno Masha also met the officials and raised the demand for cluster village after repatriation.