Bru refugees to settle in Tripura

From C K Nayak

New Delhi: The three-decade long Bru refugee crisis in Tripura and Mizoram came to an end on Thursday with the signing of a four-party agreement among the Centre, Governments Tripura, Mizoram and apex body of the internally displaced tribals.
Immediately after signing the agreement at the North Block, the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah told media that approximately 30,000 Bru refugees staying in Kanchanpru area for nearly thirty years will settle in Tripura and will be given aid to help with their rehabilitation. Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and his Mizoram counterpart, Zoramthanga agreed to the settling of the Bru tribals — called Reangs in Tripura.
Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma and royal scion of Tripura Praduta Debbarma who anchored the agreement were present in the event. Shah had a special praise for both in reaching out the vexed agreement which he described as “historic” for the once troubled region.
The centre announced a package of Rs. 6,00 crores for the refugees and plots of land in clusters. They will be receiving Rs. 5, 000 each family per month and ration for two years to settle.
The Bru people, who have been living in sub-human conditions in different camps, can now live in their own homes permanently. They will enjoy equal rights of any Indian living in Tripura with voting rights. They will now live honourably,” Shah said.
Besides these a fixed deposit of four lakh rupees will be given to each family which they can encash after two years, Shah said. According to the draft agreement, they will be settled in clusters in the same locality and be given one and half lakh rupees for house building.
Also, Bru tribals would be included in Tripura’s voter list and they will be deemed to be citizens of that state, Deb said. Earlier they used to vote from temporary camps set up in Tripura since they feared to go to Mizoram their place of origin. The Brus inhabit an area spread across parts of Mizoram, Tripura and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. In 1997 the Brus mostly from Mizoram demanded for an autonomous district council which was vehemently opposed by the vast majority homogenous Mizo people and Government.
There was a killing of a Mizo forest guard which was followed by ethnic riots, forcing about 30,000 Bru villagers to flee Mizoram and seek shelter in Tripura, where they have been staying since. The Union Home Ministry in consultation with the state governments tried for peaceful repatriation several times but in vain.
The central government had last year asserted that its ninth attempt to repatriate the Brus would be the last one, following which it would no longer offer any rehabilitation package. Of the 4,477 families identified as bona fide residents for repatriation during the last round, only 289 families had returned during the last round of the exercise.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the agreement to permanently settle the Bru-Reang refugees in Tripura on Thursday, saying it will “greatly help” them.He also said the Bru-Reang refugees will benefit from numerous welfare schemes of the government. “A special day indeed,” Modi wrote on Twitter. (Input from PTI)

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