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Two die in Tripura Bru relief camp, govt denies starvation claim

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF) general secretary Bruno Msha said many migrants have fallen ill and two persons have died in the camps

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
Updated: November 4, 2019 8:28:41 pm
Ration supplies, cash dole and other benefits were halted to six Bru relief camps in North Tripura district after September 30 this year as they refused to return to Mizoram.

Two people, including an infant, died in a relief camp in Tripura even as Brus have continued their indefinite road blockade for the second day on Friday against suspension of essential supplies by the government. Bru migrants have attributed the deaths to starvation but the government has denied the charge, saying the infant died due to unknown disease in a local Primary Health Centre (PHC).

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF) general secretary Bruno Msha said many migrants have fallen ill and two persons have died in the camps. Thirty-two thousand Brus living in six relief camps of Tripura, since 1997 have been without ration supplies and cash dole provided to them since October 1 this year.

“A two-month old child and a 60-year old woman have died while ration supplies were stopped in the camps. While the baby’s family had 8 members, only 3 got ration when supplies last came a month back. Now that the ration is stopped, his mother didn’t have milk to feed her child. They don’t have money to purchase medicine either since cash dole is halted as well. We feel the child died due to shortage of food. An old woman died due to same condition in the camp”, the migrant leader told.

Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate Abhedananda Baidya admitted that a child from the Bru camps has indeed died on October 31. He, however said the child was treated at Dasda Primary Health Centre (PHC) prior to his death, where the medical authorities said his death was caused by an ‘unknown disease’.

Protesting the decision to stop ration supplies amid ongoing repatriation to Mizoram, the Bru migrants held road blockade for the second consecutive day from Dasda to Anandanagar in North Tripura, which connects Dasda, Bhandarima, Anandanagar and adjoining areas with the rest of the state. The blockade has excluded emergency services like ambulance, fire service etc.

The local administration has made necessary security arrangements including police deployment in the area to deal with the situation.

According to a relief package announced by the Government of India six months after Bru displacees’ arrival in Tripura in 1997, 600 grams of rice is provided to every adult Bru person living in the camps each day and 300 grams of rice is allotted daily for minors. The package also has provisions for cash dole of Rs. 5 per adult per day, Rs. 2.5 for every minor in a day, a soap in one year, a pair of slippers every year and a mosquito net in every three years.

In nine subsequent phases of repatriation, nearly 7,000 refugees went back to Mizoram. But many among them returned to Tripura complaining of poor living standards and insecurity. Over 700 have returned so far in ongoing 9th phase of repatriation since October 3.

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