Agartala, April 20: Over 400 Bru people left a relief camp in Tripura, which they knew as their home for over two decades, on Monday for a place around 100 km away to set up houses on land provided by the government as a measure to permanently solve the problem of the community.
Thousands of the Bru tribal people have been living in relief camps in Tripura since 1997. They had fled their homeland Mizoram to reach the neighbouring state because of ethnic clashes. By now, the number of the internally displaced people has risen to over 30,000 and there are more than 4,400 families.
Altogether 426 people belonging to 92 families living in Naisinghpara camp in Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura district were taken in 18 buses to Hadukuluk, a tribal hamlet in Dhalai district, an official said.
They are the first batch to be rehabilitated in another place of Tripura, following an agreement signed in January last year among representatives of the community, the Centre and the governments of Tripura and Mizoram.
A 1200 square feet plot has been allotted to each rehabilitated Bru family and they will now have to set up a home on that with an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh provided by the government. They will live in tents till their houses are built, the official said.
The agreement guarantees a fixed deposit of Rs 4 lakh for each family, a monthly sum of Rs 5,000 and free monthly ration for two years and schools in all cluster villages.
Government officials welcomed the 426 people at Hadukuluk where they were given flowers and refreshments.
But hours before that, it was an emotional moment for the families when they were leaving the Naisinghpara camp.
There were tears and hugs as those still living the camp bade farewell to them.
Even government officials who were present there were deeply moved by the scene, one of them said.
“The process of settling the Bru tribes exiled for 23 years in Tripura has begun. The central government under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi ji has taken a humanitarian view and worked to solve the problem of the Bru tribes,” Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said in a Facebook post.
The Centre has provided a package of Rs 600 crore for a permanent solution to their problems, Deb said.
“I thank the Union Home Minister (Amit Shah) and the state administration officials for implementing the timely rehabilitation process despite the terrible corona situation,” he added.
When contacted, Dr Manas Dev, an officer on special duty (OSD), who oversees the entire rehabilitation process, said that 1,638 Bru families will be rehabilitated at four places – Hadukuluk and Bongaphapara in Dhalai district and Cascao and Waimbukcherra-Ranipara in North Tripura district.
The state government is waiting for clearance from the central government for nine more places to resettle the internally displaced people, he said.
The Brus are staying in six camps at Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions of North Tripura district. They get free ration and a cash dole from the Centre.
The vexed Bru issue started in September, 1997, following demands of a separate autonomous district council for the community by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura. A large number of Bru people fled from Mizoram to Tripura as ethnic clashes broke out.
The situation was aggravated by the murder of a forest guard in the Dampa Tiger Reserve in western Mizoram by Bru National Liberation Front insurgents on October 21 that year and another round of exodus followed.
The Centre, along with the governments of Tripura and Mizoram, had been trying to repatriate them to their home state over the past decade, with little success.
The first attempt to repatriate the Brus from Tripura was made in November 2009 and the last one in 2019.
Several Bru families have refused to return to Mizoram, citing security concerns and inadequate rehabilitation package. Some have also sought a separate autonomous council for the community.
However, the January 2020 agreement has allowed these tribal people to permanently settle in Tripura. (PTI)