GUWAHATI: The displaced Brus of Mizoram, lodged in six refugee camps in Tripura, have slammed the government for the recent abrupt suspension of free ration to the refugees.
Insisting that everyone has the right to food, they said the action of the government was “illegal”.
“The repatriation process will expire on November 30. So, how can the government suspend the flow of ration to the camps? It is common sense that it has to be continued till such time,” Laldingliana, president of Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Coordination Committee, argued.
He said the government should have waited till November 30. Stating that as per the agreement which the Centre had signed with the displaced Brus, it has to take care of them for two years following repatriation.
“If they behave like this now, one can imagine what they can do post-repatriation. The inmates of the camps don’t trust the government,” Laldingliana said.
The supply of ration and cash doles to the refugees was suspended on October 1, two days ahead of the commencement of the repatriation process. The Centre is urging the refugees to return to Mizoram and set the deadline of November 30.
The reaction from the Bru leader came as six senior government officials have been served a legal notice by the refugees’ counsel in the Supreme Court, Ali Zia Kabir Choudhury, for the suspension of ration to the over 35,000 refugees.
Choudhury said there was a standing order from the Supreme Court not to suspend the ration and cash relief to the refugees. He alleged the Tripura government had violated the order of the top court by depriving the refugees of the ration.
Last Thursday, in the wake of protests by the refugees who had enforced a blockade on a major road for several days, Tripura Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma visited the refugee camps and made an announcement on the resumption of ration. As promised, the ration started flowing from the next day.
Four camp inmates, including an infant, had died within a few days in the first week of this month and the refugees claimed the cause of deaths was starvation. Later, the authorities had sent two bodies for post-mortem. However, the report has not been made public yet.
The refugees say they will return to Mizoram only if the government fulfills certain demands which include their relocation to some compact areas of Mizoram with security, special projects that will take care of them etc.
Over 40,000 Brus had fled to Tripura from Mizoram in 1998 in the wake of their riots with Mizos. In the past one month or so, 100 of the near 5,000 refugee families returned to Mizoram.