Brus claim starvation as 4 die in Tripura camps

Displaced Brus from Mizoram have claimed that four members of the community, including a four-month-old infant, had died of starvation at the refugee camps in Tripura after the Centre stopped providing free rations to them.

The four deaths are said to have occurred after October 30, the day relief was stopped, across six refugee camps housing about 35,000 displaced Brus.

The Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) claimed that the four had died because the refugees were running out of food. Hunger has forced them to resort to a road blockade, the forum added.

While two of the refugees were cremated, the bodies of the other two, including one that was exhumed on Monday within 24 hours of the burial, were sent for autopsy.

Local authorities said the post-mortem report would reveal the cause of death. A medical report issued by a primary health centre in the area said the infant had been suffering from a fever for 12 days before admission.

The Centre stopped providing the free rations to the refugees after most of them rejected the final repatriation process that commenced on October 3, and is scheduled to conclude on November 30.

“The camp inmates — many of them patients and pregnant women — are battling hunger since the free ration was stopped,” MBDPF general secretary Bruno Msha said on Monday. “We are sharing the last of the morsels,” he added.

Mr. Msha asserted that the government was not being humanitarian by forcing the people to go back to uncertainty in Mizoram.

The MBDPF had signed an agreement of repatriation with the Centre and Mizoram government in 2018. The agreement assured each refugee family a plot of land in Mizoram, ₹1.6 lakh as assistance for constructing a house, ₹5,000 per month for sustenance for two years and ₹4 lakh to be deposited in the bank until maturity on completion of three years of uninterrupted stay in Mizoram.

Only about 100 of almost 5,000 families moved to Mizoram after the repatriation process began on October 3. The MBDPF said the refugees wanted to be settled in Mamit district of Mizoram but were scattered close to non-Bru settlements and were thus vulnerable to violence.

“We are reminded of the days when our people were attacked and their houses burnt down. The fear of going back is thus strong,” Mr Msha said. More than 40,000 Brus had fled Mizoram in 1997 following a conflict with the Mizos.

“Besides, the repatriation so far has not gone according to what the government had promised. The Mizoram government is not issuing ration cards to the 100 families who returned,” he added.

The Bru leaders have also alleged that those who accepted the rehabilitation package had not been allotted land to construct houses and had been kept in huts, where they were sharing community kitchens and toilets.

“Our demands have been scaled down: we no longer seek an autonomous district council, reservation of seats in the Assembly and jobs for displaced Brus,” Mr. Msha said. He, however, added, “We cannot be forced to go without an amicable solution.”

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 2:50:28 AM |

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