Mizoram Government withdraws ‘futile’ repatriation process for Bru families

Aizawl/Agartala, September 3 (PTI): With only four of the 5,407 Bru families returning to Mizoram since the final repatriation process began on August 25, the state government termed it a “futile exercise” and withdrew the officials sent to neighbouring Tripura to oversee the exercise.

 

The officials who were deployed in the six Bru relief camps of north Tripura district have already returned, Mizoram additional secretary for home Lalbiakzama said Monday.

 

The repatriation process was scheduled to continue for a month till September 25.

 

“The state government is regarding it a futile exercise in view of the mood at the relief camps. We had to withdraw the officials as no Bru family returned since Tuesday (August 28),” Lalbiakzama said.

 

Between August 25 and 27, only four refugee families returned from the relief camps in Tripura. Thereafter, no Bru refugee showed any interest in heading back, he said.

 

In a November 2016 survey, 32,876 Brus belonging to 5,407 families were identified as bona fide residents of Mizoram, who could be repatriated. However, in a recent study, just 2,753 people belonging to 423 families expressed their willingness to return.

 

The Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), an organisation that has been fighting for the rights of the community, signed an agreement with the Centre and Mizoram and Tripura governments in July to accept a repatriation package.

 

The agreement stipulated that Rs 4 lakh for each repatriated Bru family would be deposited in the bank account of the head of the family and Rs 1.5 lakh doled out as housing assistance.

 

Each repatriated Bru family would also be given Rs 5,000 through Direct Benefit Transfer every month and free ration for two years.

 

Senior officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs had said the relief camps would be closed down by the first week of October and assistance allotted for the inmates to be discontinued forthwith.

 

A section of the refugees, however, were not happy with the package offered to them and demanded more.

 

Mizo Bru Displaced People’s Coordination Committee (MBDPCC), another organisation of the refugees in Tripura, sought central security after their repatriation.

 

“The Brus fled Mizoram during ethnic clashes since 1997. We will now feel insecure on our return. We want central security, cluster villages and Area Development Council if we have to return,” MBDPCC president Laldinliana maintained.

 

Thousands of Bru refugees from Mizoram fled to Tripura during an ethnic violence in 1997. The clashes broke out after a forest official was killed by Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) militants.

 

The Centre, in association with the governments of Mizoram and Tripura, was repatriating the displaced Brus in phases.

 

Though several Bru families have returned to Mizoram over the years, many refused to leave Tripura citing security reasons and inadequate package.