AGARTALA: The Union Home Ministry has extended the deadline for repatriation of tribal refugees from Tripura to Mizoram till March this year and also allowed the extension of financial assistance and ration supply till then.
Officials said here today that as per the ministry's earlier direction the ration supply has to be discontinued from yesterday but the decision was reviewed following the persuasion of the refugee leaders.
Earlier, the ration supply and cash assistance were decided to be discontinued in November last year ahead of Mizoram assembly election but it failed.
The officials said following a four-party agreement in Delhi last July, the supply of foodgrains and relief material was stopped from October, ostensibly to compel the tribal migrants to return to their villages in Mizoram.
Over 35,000 Reang tribals, comprising 5,907 families, fled from Mizoram and have been staying in seven relief camps in northern Tripura's Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions since October 1997 following ethnic tension after a Mizo forest official was killed in the neighbouring state.
Meanwhile, the Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF), the apex body of the refugees, has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Joint Secretary (North-East) Satyendra Garg to extend their relief and other assistance until they returned to their homes in Mizoram.
MBDPF President A. Sawibunga, Vice-President R. Laldawngliana and General Secretary Bruno Msha, in a joint letter on Monday, said that it would be very inhuman if the government unilaterally stopped the assistance to the refugees.
They also called the Election Commission to set up polling stations inside the seven relief camps during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.