Centre’s pact with Bru refugees in Tripura relief camps hits a roadblock

Centre said that each family would be given Rs 4 lakh to be kept in FD within 1-mth of repatriation. The refugees demand money in advance and insist that is kept in their savings account.

Published: 17th July 2018 03:55 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th July 2018 03:55 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The Centre’s move to repatriate over 32,000 displaced Bru (Reang) refugees, lodged in relief camps in neighbouring Tripura, has hit roadblocks as the refugees unilaterally pulled out of an agreement, which the Centre had signed with them, saying the pact least fulfilled their aspirations.

As a result, the 21-year-old issue is back to square one as the refugees said they would oppose their repatriation tooth and nail. It remains to be seen how the Centre breaks the deadlock.

“We have pulled out of the agreement because there is a threat to our lives as people are opposing it,” Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF) chief Soibonga told TNIE. He and two other MBDPF leaders, signatories of the agreement, are facing a threat to their lives from fellow refugees.

The agreement was signed recently in New Delhi by the Central government, governments of Mizoram and Tripura and MBDPF. Three years of hard bargaining with all stakeholders led to the signing of the pact. 

Over 40,000 Brus had fled to Tripura from Mizoram in 1997 in the wake of their ethnic riots with Mizos. Over the past few years, several thousand of them returned to Mizoram on their own.

Soibonga said they would write to the Central government citing the reasons behind pulling out of the agreement. A large section of the refugees is not happy over the terms and conditions of the agreement.

“Some groups, representing the refugees, demand the construction of a cluster of new villages for settlement of the refugees and the creation of an area development council in Mizoram. The demand for a cluster of villages is for security reasons,” Soibonga said. 

Under the process of repatriation, the Centre had said that each Reang family would be given one-time financial assistance of Rs.4 lakh to be kept in fixed deposit within one month of repatriation. However, the refugees are demanding the money in advance and they insist that it is kept in their savings account, Soibonga said.

“One person has been on a hunger strike for the past few days. Two others joined him yesterday (Monday). They are agitating as they believe the Brus cannot survive within this agreement. A lot of groups of the Brus are supporting them. The agitators locked up our office yesterday. Three of us from the MBDPF had signed the agreement and as our lives were in stake, we decided to pull out of the agreement,” Soibonga said. 

He said they had apprised MK Singla of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), who was in Tripura recently, of the circumstances leading up to their withdrawal from the pact. According to reports, a team of the MHA will visit Tripura soon to hold deliberations with the refugees.

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