Sunday, February 25, 2024

Mizoram to go ahead with Bru repatriation

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Aizawl: Mizoram has left the door open for Bru refugees, lodged in six relief camps in North Tripura, to come back even as the first batch of 141 families refused to return on first day, April 26, the first day of fourth phase of Bru repatriation.

The second batch of Bru refugees comprising 149 families from Kaskau relief camp are scheduled to be repatriated on May 4.

“Arrangements have been made to repatriate the second batch of families as per the schedule, just in case these families are willing to return,” Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana said on Sunday.

It had been planned to take back 141 families from Hamsapara relief camp on April 26.

However, the repatriation process got derailed as not even a single family returning following the refugees’ fresh demand, including rehabilitation package of Rs 1.5 lakh, the same amount the Union Home Ministry agreed to give to the 83 displaced Mizo families, who had been driven out of their homes in Sakhan Hills in Tripura by Bru militants in 1998.

Deputy Commissioner Rodney Lalrinmawma of Mamit district, where the repatriated Brus are to be resettled, said over phone from Mamit that Tripura officials were also trying their best to persuade the refugees, who have been lodged in the relief camps since the last 15 years.

However, Mizoram officials have very little hope that the next phases of repatriation would be a success as the same Bru leaders, who kept majority of the refugees under their control, are not willing to return because they are being ‘spoon-fed’ in the refugees’ camps.

“Such Bru leaders with vested interest have played spoilsport to the earlier repatriation. They want to remain in the refugee camps to get easy money and free ration there,” a Home official, who did not want to be named, said.

Mr Lalzirliana stated that the government would not be blamed for derailment of the Bru repatriation as it had performed its parts. “If they (Bru refugees) refuse to return, it’s up to them. We cannot force them to come home,” the Home Minister told reporters.

A total of 669 families, comprising of 3,652 men, women and children, identified as bona-fide citizens of Mizoram, are supposed to be repatriated during the fourth phase scheduled to last till May 15.

The repatriated families would be resettled in 21 villages in Mamit district.

The six relief camps in North Tripura have been housing thousands of Brus who fled Mizoram following ethnic conflicts with majority Mizos in two occasions. The first was in 1998 followed by the second in 2009, the first one triggered by the killing of a Mizo forest official and the second by the gunning down of a Mizo youth at Bungthuam village near Tripura border, both by Bru militants.

About 617 families comprising 2309 adults and 864 children had been repatriated in the earlier three phases. (UNI)

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