Editorial

Bru Refugee And The Politics…

Bru refugee rehabilitation in North Tripura district is snowballing into a major concern. The several Tripura based Mizo bodies are vehemently opposing Government’s plan for mass rehabilitation of Bru refugees in the state, people has also voiced resentment over decision to resettle migrated Bru refugees. Local communities under banner of Joint Movement Committee elsewhere in the district have vowed to carry on demonstrating against the mass settlement of Brus. Bru or Reang people fled adjoining their native place in Mizoram 23 years ago following ethnic strife in that ethnic clashes in Mizoram forced 37,000 people of the Bru (or Reang) community to flee their homes to neighbouring Tripura, and took shelter in relief camps in North Tripura. An agreement was signed in January this year, in presence of Union Home Minister, to end the 23-year-old crisis. The agreement among the Bru leaders and the governments of India, Tripura, and Mizoram, signed in New Delhi, gives the Bru the choice of living in either state. In several ways, the agreement has redefined the way in which internal displacement is treated in India, including by rehabilitating over 34,000 refugees, from 5,400 families, of the Reang community, locally called “Bru”, in different places of Tripura, in North Tripura, where they had migrated in 1997 from Mizoram following ethnic conflict. As per the Agreement, Bru community, currently living in temporary relief camps in Tripura will be settled in the State, if they want to stay on. The Bru who returned to Mizoram in the eight phases of repatriation since 2009, cannot, however, come back to Tripura. To ascertain the numbers of those who will be settled, a fresh survey and physical verification of Bru families living in relief camps will be carried out. The Centre will implement a special development project for the resettled Bru community and that will be in addition to the Rs 600 crore fund announced for the process, including benefits for the migrants. Each resettled family will get 0.03 acre of land for building a home, Rs 1.5 lakh as housing assistance, and Rs 4 lakh as a one-time cash benefit for sustenance. They will also receive a monthly allowance of Rs 5,000, and free rations for two years from the date of resettlement. Since 2010, the Government of India has been making sustained efforts, with as many as nine attempts, to permanently rehabilitate these refugees but the issue remained unresolved. The attempts to repatriate the Bru community failed multiple times, so maybe this is for the best. Successive central and state governments had thus far stressed only on peacefully repatriating the Bru, even though the enduring fear of ethnic violence remained a fundamental roadblock. The two other “durable solutions” for refugees and displaced persons suggested by the UN Refugee Agency, local integration or assimilation, and resettlement were never explored. Historically, the Bru were always a part of Tripura. Tripura’s Queens were Bru. It was in 1947 that the Bru went to Mizoram after they were displaced due to a hydro project. Thousands of their families were dislocated, they migrated to Mizoram but they always lived there as second class citizens. Apart from their own Kaubru tongue, the Bru speak both Kokborok and Bangla, the two most widely spoken languages of the tribal and non-tribal communities of Tripura, and have an easy connection with the state. Their long stay in Tripura, albeit in exile and in terrible conditions, has also acquainted them very well with the state’s socio-political ecology. Now with the shutdown called by a joint forum of local ethnic civil societies entering its 6th day on Saturday at Kanchanpur in protest against the proposed “large-scale” resettlement of displaced Brus from Mizoram in the area, dispensation should protect the interests of locals demands all the political parties including BJP. According to the political analysts The state government is “solely responsible” for the “indefinite” general strike called by the Joint Movement Committee (JMC), comprising Nagarik Surakhsa Mancha and Mizo Convention, in the sub-division in protest against the proposed resettlement of 6,000 Bru migrants in the area. “The BJP-led government in the northeastern state signed a quadripartite agreement in January this year to settle the Bru refugees in Tripura without even having the courtesy of discussing the issue with the main opposition party of the state”, the statement said. The CPI(M) also urged the state government to give a chance to the protestors to place their demands before the authorities. Now when already life losts due to this ongoing movement every body expect a meeting between the demonstrators and the government to be held immediately. At the meeting, the government must pay heed to the demands of locals. Their views should be given some respect also.

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