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34,000 Bru refugees to be settled in Tripura

A file photo of Bru children at a refugee camp in Tripura.Ritu Raj Konwar

A file photo of Bru children at a refugee camp in Tripura.Ritu Raj Konwar  

MHA signs quadripartite agreement

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday presided over the signing of a quadripartite pact of the MHA with the State governments of Tripura, Mizoram and leaders of Bru community to permanently settle around 34,000 internally displaced Bru people in Tripura.

Reangs or Brus are the second largest ethnic group in Mizoram. Their exodus in 1997 was spurred by violent clashes in Mamith subdivision, a Reang-dominated area, when they demanded creation of an autonomous council that was vehemently opposed by Mizo groups.

The Centre has sanctioned around Rs. 600 crore as a settlement package, Mr. Shah said on Thursday.

“Due to ethnic tensions in Mizoram, around 34,000 people were forced to live in sub-human conditions in tents in Tripura. No solution could be reached all these years.

“In 2018, an agreement was signed and a package was sanctioned, but many people did not want to go back to Mizoram. Only 328 families moved back. Due to the initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, negotiations were started afresh. The displaced people will be settled in Tripura permanently,” Mr. Shah said in the presence of Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and Mizoram CM Zoramthanga.

After the signing of the pact, the Tripura CM said: “You cannot be refugees in your own country.”

Tripura’s erstwhile royal Pradyot Deb Barman, who is one of the signatories, said he would donate 35 acres of land for the purpose.

North East Democratic Alliance convener Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Brus would get voting rights and tribal status in Tripura. He said the Brus who settled in Mizoram would not have an option to come back. Around 30,000 Brus returned to Mizoram in batches.

Mr. Shah said the community members would also get a one-time assistance of Rs. 4 lakh as fixed deposit. “A 40/30 feet plot of land, an aid of Rs. 5,000/month for the next two years, free ration and Rs. 1.5 lakh to build houses will be given to them. The Tripura government has identified land to settle them,” Mr. Shah said.

A rehabilitation package signed in 2018 could not materialise.

Mr. Sarma said the government was aware of the paucity of land in Tripura but efforts were being made to settle the Brus in clusters.

He said the funds to buy land would be jointly shared by the Centre and the State government.

“There were many Bengali families who were also affected due to the displacement of the Brus. Since the Brus came and settled in Tripura, the Bengalis had to vacate the areas. The agreement will also help them,” said Mr. Sarma.

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