Agartala, May 12: Tripura High Court yesterday directed the Centre to constitute a special fact-finding committee to look into the “miserable condition” of the 35,000 Reang or Bru tribal refugees from Mizoram, currently sheltered in six camps in Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura.
The Reangs began pouring into Tripura from October 15, 1997, to escape atrocities by ethnic Mizo tribesmen and largescale arson.
The influx continued and finally the total number of refugees rose to 35,000 but very few of them have been repatriated because of stiff opposition from the Mizoram government, Mizo NGOs and other social organisations. The refugees continue to live in sub-human conditions in the camps.
Advocate Mangal Debbarma had filed a PIL on the suffering of Reang refugees in the camps of Kanchanpur subdivision.
When the petition came up for hearing yesterday, Debbarma said the Reangs were not “really refugees from foreign soil but are internally displaced persons from a neighbouring state”.
“In spite of this, the Centre or state government have been discriminating against the Reang refugees when compa-red with the displaced people of the Pandit community from Kashmir,” said Debbarma.
“A report submitted by the sub-divisional magistrate of Kanchanpur to the government on February 21 proves the critical nature of the situation in the camps. There are 1,400 inmates in the Naisingpara camp but there are only four toilets there. Similarly, the Longtaraigami refugee camp has 5,000 inmates but it has no toilet,” said Mangal Debbarma, in his submission.
Debbarma also cited instances of “very poor and small amounts of provision” being given to the camp inmates. “The inmates must be given Rs 1,000 per month and Rs 4,000 per month per family over and above the daily quota of rice, pulses, kerosene and sugar, which are being given in much less quantities than required,” said Debbarma.
He also pointed out that the Reangs in Mizoram were subjected to various discriminations. “They do have access to even basic facilities offered by the state government unless they convert to Christianity or adopt Mizo names. The Reangs constitute the second largest tribal community in Mizoram but very few of them have land,” said Debbarma. He added that the Reangs had been targeted in Mizoram in 1997 after they had demanded recognition of their language, Kaibru, and an autonomous district council in Mizoram.
Having listened to arguments put forward by advocate Justice Subhasish Talapatra, the high court directed the Centre to constitute a high-powered fact-finding committee and submit a report to the high court by May 31.