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Identification of Bru refugees to be delayed

Mizoram

Identification of Bru refugees to be delayed

AIZAWL, FEB 6: The proposed identification of displaced Brus, who are currently lodging at six relief camps in neighbouring Tripura will get delay due to state assembly elections to be held on 18 February, officials of Mizoram home department said on Monday.

Additional secretary to the home department Lalbiakzama said identification of the Bru tribals whether or not they are willing to return to Mizoram was earlier scheduled to commence from the second week of February. The earlier schedule has to be changed and shifted to last week of the month due to the state assembly elections, he added.

Tripura is due for assembly election on 18 February.

Lalbiakzama said that an inspection team comprising of officials from Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Mizoram government would visit the relief camps and identify the refugees, who are willing to return to Mizoram and those who are not.

File photo: for representational

According to Lalbiakzama, preparation is on to repatriate the displaced Bru people in March.

He said that the state government had submitted a Detail Project Report (DPR) with an estimate of Rs 123 crore to be spent for physical repatriation, which had been approved in principle by the Centre.

Lalbiakzama also said that the Centre has recently released Rs 7.9 crore as first instalment for the repatriation expenditure. Besides this, there was Rs 15 crore left over.

He added that more funds would be required to execute physical repatriation.

In November 2016,  Mizoram officials had identified  32,857 people belonging to 5,413 families for physical repatriation.

Thousands of Brus from Mizoram fled to Tripura due to communal tension flared up after a forest guard was gunned down by Bru militants on October 21, 1997 inside Dampa Tiger Reserve near Persang hamlet in Mamit district on the Mizoram- Bangladesh border.

Several attempts to repatriate them thereafter failed due to several reasons.

The last attempt for repatriation which was scheduled to commence after identification in November 2016 had to be stalled as the Supreme Court suggested the MHA and Mizoram government to not go ahead because of the demand raised by the Bru people.

Meanwhile, sources said that Union ministry of home affairs had acceded to some of the demands raised by Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), an apex body of the Bru tribals which include rehabilitation fund of Rs 1.3 lakh, free rations for two years and R 5,000 stipend to each repatriated families.

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Co-Editor, Zoramobserver.com. Mr. Khojol is a journalist based in Aizawl, Mizoram. He writes for various national and regional media houses. In his free time, he can be caught reading books and watching movies.

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