GUWAHATI: With the specter of starvation looming large, the displaced Brus of Mizoram, lodged in neighbouring Tripura, on Monday appealed to the Centre to keep providing the free ration and cash-dole to them.
The Centre had abruptly withdrawn the assistance in the first week of October amidst a process of repatriation, ostensibly as the inmates of the six refugee camps were unwilling to return to Mizoram. It was restored on November 7 for “one month” by the Tripura government in the wake of protests by the refugees. The repatriation process, which is the last that began on October 3, will conclude on November 30.
In a memorandum submitted to the special secretary (internal security) of Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) said the refugees would not like to return to Mizoram unless their “small and simple demands” were not acceded to.
“…The MBDPF will take all possible initiatives towards resolving the long-pending issue of the displaced Brus. We appeal to you to kindly continue providing with the ration and cash-dole till there is a solution, including payment of arrears of cash-dole for October and November, and ration for October,” the MBDPF said in the memorandum.
Last week, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressing the willingness to settle the Bru refugees in the state. He wrote that the 5,082 families of the refugees had continued to live in the camps as some of their organisations stood opposed to their repatriation.
Tripura’s royal scion Pradyot Kishore Debbarma, who resigned as state Congress chief recently, insisted that the displaced Brus be provided land by Tripura government so that they could continue to live in the state. He said they were original inhabitants of Tripura.
“If you can accept lakhs and lakhs of people from another country (read Bangladesh), then why can’t you accept the Brus who were natives of Tripura until being displaced by the Dumbur hydro-electric plant,” Debbarma had argued.
According to the MBDPF, the refugees are demanding their repatriation in some compact areas of Mizoram with security and a special project that will take care of their welfare.
More than 35,000 Brus had fled to Tripura from Mizoram in 1997 in the wake of their clashes with the Mizos. Ever since the final repatriation began, nearly 900 of them had returned to Mizoram.