GUWAHATI, October 14: The Centre has begun a process for the repatriation of displaced Brus (Reangs) but most refugees are unlikely to go back to their native Mizoram.
The process of repatriation began on October 3 and so far, only 68 families have returned to Mizoram. The deadline of repatriation will expire on November 30.
Over 32,000 Brus are lodged in seven relief camps in Tripura and the “final agreement” pertaining to their repatriation was signed last year by the Centre, Mizoram government and Bru leaders.
During a process of identification carried out at the relief camps in 2016, altogether 5,407 Bru families were listed. However, another identification process conducted this year found the existence of 4,447 displaced families.
“Altogether 68 families have returned to Mizoram after transport was arranged by Mizoram government. Four to five more families will go back today (Monday),” Laldingliana, president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Coordination Committee, told this newspaper.
He said the refugees were divided on the issue of repatriation – some families want to return to Mizoram but others are not willing; they first want the fulfillment of their demands prior to repatriation.
“Some families are demanding that the inmates at the relief camps be counted based on the 2016 identification process, their relocation in a cluster of villages in Mizoram for security reasons, the creation of an autonomous council for the community in Mizoram etc. They said they will go back only if the demands are fulfilled. However, the Mizoram government is in no mood to accede to the demands,” Laldingliana said.
As a part of the repatriation process, each refugee family will get Rs.1.6 lakh as assistance for constructing a house, a plot and Rs.4 lakh which will be deposited in the bank for three years. The amount will mature only after three years of uninterrupted stay in Mizoram.
Following clashes with the Mizos, over 40,000 Brus had fled to Tripura in 1998. A few thousand of them returned to Mizoram over the past few years.
Meanwhile, some Bru leaders, who had signed the final agreement of repatriation, have filed an FIR with the police against unknown people fearing a threat to their lives. The miscreants put up “public notifications” on walls near the relief camps alleging that the Bru leaders, signing the agreement of repatriation, had received Rs.70 crore from the government.