Several hundred Bru migrants from Tripura’s transit camps Wednesday continued their road blockade for the seventh day, defying government restrictions on public movement under section 144 of the CrPC.
Defying the government order, a large group of Bru IDPs gathered at their protest venue at Dasda-Anandabazaar area of Tripura’s North district early morning today, even as they hoisted the national flag, sang the national anthem and chanted ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ slogans before starting their agitation.
“We are Indians and we have the right to live with dignity. The government has announced restrictions on public movement here. We are ready to face consequences but we shall not budge from our demand of food,” Uday Msha, a 19-year-old boy living in Ashapara relief camp told indianexpress.com.
On Tuesday, Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate Abhedananda Baidya had issued an order, imposing section 144 around major Bru camps and directed the camp dwellers to refrain from holding any sort of movement, failing which they would face ‘stern legal action’.
Shortly after the notice was issued, Bru leaders who led the road blockade, announced that the agitation stood withdrawn in the face of a warning from the local administration about ‘stern legal action’ on violation of government order.
However, despite the restrictions, Bru migrants continued their blockade, crippling public movement at Dasda, Ananzabazaar area in North Tripura for the seventh consecutive day.
While the leaders stayed back from agitation today, the stir was led by young refugee leaders, who said they were not consulted before Bru leaders signed repatriation agreement with the Centre.
SDM Baidya was not available for his comments on how a road blockade continued amidst prohibitory orders.
But a source in the government said sufficient contingent of CRPF, Tripura Police and Tripura State Rifles (TSR) was deployed to contain the situation but they failed to act due to absence of orders from ‘upper level’.
Bru migrant leaders Tuesday announced the withdrawal of the road blockade in the face of warnings. However, in a press statement, they claimed that the majority of camp inmates have disagreed with the decision to pull out from agitation.
“…all the agitators disagree the decision taken by the Government of Tripura and their leaders have intensified to strengthen the demonstration and continue the blockage of road at the same location till there is solution…,” the statement read.
Three Bru migrant organisations have also written to North Tripura District Magistrate Raval Hamendra Kumar today saying, “….the agitators disagree over our decision to withdraw the blockage of road without any positive commitment made by either from the Government of India or Government of Tripura…….therefore, we have suggested that the demonstrator can withdraw the blockage of road only after immediate issuance of relief ration and cash file from October to till date so there is amicable solution”.
The District Magistrate’s office couldn’t be reached for a comment on the issue.
Several political leaders, including former MLA BK Hrangkhawl, senior tribal leader Jagdish Debbarma, tribal leader and pro-NRC activist Patalkanya Jamatia, former MLA Animesh Debbarma visited the agitating migrants today.
Tripura royal scion Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma visited the migrants amidst their stir as well and said he will ensure them land for permanent settlement in Tripura.
At least 32,000 people of Reang or ‘Bru’ community had fled Mizoram due to alleged ethnic persecution and have been living in six relief camps in Tripura for the past 22 years. The government suspended food and ration supplies in the camps from October 1 after the migrants declined to return as per repatriation agreement signed in 2018. The migrants are protesting for an immediate resumption of food supplies.