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Bru talks

Silchar, Feb. 20: The fifth round of talks between the Mizoram government and leaders of Bru refugees is all set to resume tomorrow.

The talks are aimed at removing hurdles in the repatriation of Brus, now lodged in relief camps in Tripura, to their homes in Mizoram.

A senior official in the state home department said the talks would be held at Mizoram’s border town of Mamit. Sources in Aizawl today said while state DGP Alok Kumar Verma, deputy commissioner of Mamit district V. Lalremthanga and joint secretary of the state’s home department, Lalbiakzama, will represent the official delegation of the Mizoram government at tomorrow’s discussions, the Brus will be led by an eight-member team.

The participating Bru leaders include A. Sawibunga, president of the Mizo Bru Displaced People’s Forum, Bruno Msha, its general secretary and vice-president R. Laldawngliana.

According to informed circles in Aizawl, the talks will mainly focus on finding an amicable way for tiding over the differences between the Mizoram’s Congress government and the front in regard to the question about who among the Mizo refugees are the genuine residents of Mizoram.

Teams of officials from Mizoram during the past few years had checked the bona fide of the Bru refugees, who migrated across the border to neighbouring Tripura since an ethnic war sparked off between the Mizos and the Brus after some Mizos were attacked in July 1997 in Mizoram. They reached the conclusion that among the total 37,000 Bru refugees about 19,000 would be genuine ones who left their homes and hearths in Mizoram. The others, who are the inhabitants of Tripura, are faking their identity, claiming that they are the refugees from Mizoram.

However, the forum had resented against such “an arbitrary and wrong” consensus nurtured by the Mizoram government for the past few years about the number of “genuine” refugees among the Brus.

There are also some other existing differences between the Mizoram government and the Bru refugee leaders. At least two of these, according to the forum president Saibunga, relate to the “meagre” quantum of assistance package for their rehabilitation being offered by the Mizoram and Union governments and the status of the talks.

Saibunga has so long been insisting that the future government-Bru talks should be tripartite in which the Centre would also be party. However, in tomorrow’s talks no central government representative would be present.

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