After a gap of almost three years, repatriation of Mizoram Reang tribe refugees housed in Kanchanpur in north Tripura commenced on Monday. 84 families transported to home in the presence of officials of Tripura and Mizoram governments.

Officials said the return of refugees completed as per plan and arrangements. “84 families went back Mizoram without any hindrance”, Kanchanpur Sub Division Magistrate Bikash Singh told The Hindu by phone.

Over 30,000 Reang or Bru refugees are languishing in six makeshift camps in Kanchanpur, 135km north of Agartala, after they arrived in 1997 to escape ethnic violence in Mamith district of Mizoram. The evacuees alleged that they were subject to atrocities and cruelty for raising demand for a regional council to preserve their rights and identity.

The North Tripura district officials earlier convinced the refugee leaders to support much awaited repatriation as they blocked several such initiatives in past. The Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum has been arguing that the refugee issue is crux of a political situation in Mizoram and unless it is solved politically, permanent settlement of the problem cannot be achieved.

Mizoram government rejected their political demands and announced rehabilitation package for the returnees. Tripura state officials said Mizoram government gave a cash dole of Rs 85,000 to each of families and accommodated them in a designated camp at Mamith district pending their rehabilitation.

54 families from Naisnghpara, largest of six camps, 28 from Ashapara and 2 from Hejachara camp returned. It was originally planned for 73 families, but 11 more families volunteered to return.

“The repatriation was for today only and next date would be fixed in consultation with Mizoram officials”, Bikash Singh informed.

Union central home ministry which is bearing entire expense to look after the refugees and Tripura government which has burden of a huge population for many years were constantly pressuring Mizoram government to take back the tribe people under a convenient arrangement. Then union home minister P. Chidambaram visited the camps in February last year to pursue the displaced Reangs to return home.