Mizoram grapples with refugee crises

Centre, state ask Bru families to return

By Henry L. Khojol in Aizawl
  • Published 12.09.18
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A Bru refugee camp

Aizawl: The Centre and the Mizoram government have appealed to the displaced Bru families, lodged at six relief camps in Tripura, to return to Mizoram as the Centre has planned to stop doling out free ration and assistance to them from October.

A meeting of officials of ministry of home affairs (MHA), Mizoram home department and police was held here on Monday under the leadership of MHA's joint secretary (Northeast) Satyendra Garg, which discussed the issue, state home department additional secretary Lalbiakzama told The Telegraph.

He said leaders of Young Mizo Association (YMA), Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF), Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Coordination Committee (MBDPCC) and Equal Package Demand Committee (EPDC), representing Bru families that are already repatriated to Mizoram, also attended the meeting.

Lalbiakzama said the meeting appealed to the Bru families to return to Mizoram.

Officials of MHA informed the meeting that the Centre would cease giving free ration and subsistence allowance of Rs 5 per head per day to the Bru refugees from October 1 and would close down all the the relief camps after repatriation is over, Lalbiakzama said.

However, the meeting could not decide on when to start the repatriation as the Bru families were asked to return to Mizoram whenever they are ready, he added.

According to Lalbiakzama, only three out of 5,407 Bru families have so far returned to Mizoram during the repatriation exercise between August 25 and 28.

The two repatriated families were re-settled in Kolasib district, while one family lives in Lunglei district, he said.

According to sources, Garg said the Bru leaders in the relief camps would identify those who want to be repatriated and submit their names to the Centre and the Mizoram government.

The transportation cost for the repatriated families would be borne by the Mizoram government but no state government officials would be deployed at the relief camps to oversee the process, Garg was quoted as saying.

According to the quadripartite agreement on July 3, over 32,857 Bru tribals would start returning to Mizoram from August. The multi-phase repatriation was scheduled to be completed by September 30.

Mizoram officials undertook repatriation during August 25 to 28, but the exercise turned futile as no Bru families barring three returned to Mizoram as they were not happy with the repatriation package.

The Bru families demanded Area Development Council (ADC), land allocation and cluster village consisting at least 500 families, among others.

Lalbiakzama told this correspondent that the state government is still firm on its stand that it could not allot land to the families.

As per the Delhi agreement, the Bru families would receive financial assistant of Rs 4 lakh for each repatriated family, which would be deposited to their savings bank account. Each repatriated family would also be provided housing assistance to the tune of Rs 1.5 lakh. Apart from these, the Bru families would also be given a monthly stipend of Rs 5,000 for two years and free ration for the same period.

Fleeing communal violence triggered by the murder of a Mizo forest guard by Bru militants in 1997, thousands of Bru had left Mizoram and migrated to Tripura. Over 32,857 people are currently lodged at six relief camps in North Tripura district.

The EPDC has asked chief minister Lal Thanhawla to speed up measure so that the already repatriated families receive equal package on a par with those who would be repatriated.

Quoting Garg, EPDC chairman Elvis Chorky, who attended Monday's meeting, said the future of the already repatriated families whether or not they will receive equal package depends on the number of Bru families returning from Tripura this time.