Only 171 Bru families repatriated even as deadline ends

Belongings of Bru refugees being taken from Tripura camps to Mizoram on Saturday. (DH photo)

The ninth and final phase for repatriation of Bru refugees living in Tripura North district ended on Saturday but only 171 of more than 4,000 families went back to Mizoram as per the tri-partite agreement.

A report submitted by Abhayanand Baidya, the sub-divisional magistrate of Kanchanpur in North Tripura district, 601 inmates belonging to 110 families could be repatriated in the final phase since October 3 this year. They were taken in trucks and buses to the places identified for their resettlement in Lunglei, Kolasib and Mamit districts of Mizoram.

"Yes, the final phase of repatriation ended today. But nearly 4,000 families are still there in the camps. Now we are waiting for instruction from the higher-ups on what to do next," Baidya told DH over the phone.

Reports said only 243 people belonging to 61 families left their camps in Panisagar sub-division.

The Brus or Reangs have been living in at least six relief camps in the district since they fled their villages in Mizoram following ethnic strife in 1997.

The Centre had set November 30 deadline for repatriation of all the refugees to Mizoram but sources said the government would now wait for the Centre's nod for resettlement in Tripura instead of pushing them to Mizoram. The government had earlier stopped ration supply after the refugees refused to go back to Mizoram. At least six inmates died allegedly due to shortage of food in their camps. 

The government had also identified 43 locations in Mamit, eight in Kolasib and six in Lungtlei districts of Mizoram for their resettlement. But Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb recently met home minister Amit Shah seeking financial support for their re-settlement in Tripura itself instead of pushing them back to Mizoram.

Bruno Msha, general secretary of Mizoram Bru Displaced Family Forum, who led the agitation by camp inmates earlier this month said on Saturday that they would soon meet and decide the next course of action. "We are not against going back to Mizoram. But Mizoram government is too adamant to look into the needs of the bonafide Bru citizens. We want that the inmates be settled in clusters so that they can live together with all basic amenities such as good roads, electricity supply, education and healthcare facilities. 

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