TNT Desk | September 02, 2018

The three decade long Bru Repatriation issue recently reached a milestone agreement after the signing of the repatriation agreement on August 27, 2018 between the Central Govt and the Chief Ministers of Tripura and Mizoram, Biplab Kumar Deb and Lalthanhawla respectively. Although many saw this agreement as a ray of hope that could give a new lease of dignified life to the Brus, the Brus however do not share the same feelings.

As per a report in the Indian Express, no Bru refugee from transit camps in Tripura’s north district has returned to Mizoram in the last five days after four families went back as per the repatriation agreement on August 27. The refugees said they feared ethnic tension upon their return and have demanded central security cover.

Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Coordination Committee (MBDPCC) president L Laldinliana informed this media house that the four Bru families from Hamsapara and Khakchang relief camps in Panisagar sub-division returned to Mizoram three days back “informally”.

“We fled Mizoram due to ethnic clashes in 1997. During the last 20 years, we have made several allegations against the Mizos. If we return now, they might not be happy and there might be clashes with them. We want central security, cluster villages and Area Development Council (ADC) for accepting the repatriation,” Laldinliana said.

Earlier this year, Young Mizo Association (YMA) president Vanlalruata said they did not support “separatist demands” like forming ADC for the Bru refugees. “We don’t want to divide Mizoram into any segment or among different tribes. We don’t welcome any separatism here,” he had said. The YMA is an influential Mizo civil society.

Meanwhile, a senior Tripura police officer said Mizoram government officers had camped in Tripura for three days from August 25 to welcome the refugees. However, barring four families from Hamsapara and Khakchang camps, no one has turned up so far. Mizoram officials too have stopped coming since the last couple of days, the official said. He, however, said arrangements for repatriation were still maintained as per the agreement.

The four Bru refugee families who have returned to Mizoram, as per the repatriation agreement signed between the Centre, state governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF), have been reportedly rehabilitated in Kolasib district. The repatriation process, which started on August 25, is slated to continue till September 25.

According to the agreement, the rehabilitation package includes a financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh in the form of a fixed deposit for each family, cash assistance of Rs 5,000 per month for two years, Rs 1.5 lakh as house building assistance and free rations for two years. The cash assistance will be given after three years of uninterrupted stay in Mizoram while the housing assistance will be provided in three installments. However, the agreement was not welcomed by the refugees and a new committee – Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Coordination Committee (MBDPCC) – was formed.

In a dilemma of acceptance where on the one hand their home state seems to have become hostile for the Brus and the other, they can choose to have a dignified life in their state after more than three decades, the Bru refugees stand at a cross road only they know best.

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