Bru refugees in Tripura camps to get free ration, allowance till March 31

Aizawl | Around 35,000 Bru refugees living in relief camps in Tripura would continue to receive free ration and cash allowance till March 31, officials said Wednesday.

A senior Mizoram government official said inmates of the six relief camps at Kanchanpur sub-division in North Tripura district were in uncertainty as the the Centre was scheduled to discontinue the assistance from Tuesday.

The home ministry has conveyed to the state government that the assistance would be available to the Bru refugees till March 31, Mizoram additional secretary for home Lalbiakzama told PTI.

The Bru community in the relief camps were happy about the decision, said R Laldawngliana, vice-president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), an umbrella organisation of the refugees.

Laldawngliana, who is now in Delhi along with other leaders of the MBDPF, said they were informed of the decision by officials of the home ministry.

The Centre had earlier decided to close the relief camps and stop the assistance in October last year in accordance to an agreement signed in July on repatriation of the Bru refugees to Mizoram, where they originally belong.

The agreement was inked on July 3, 2018 in Delhi among the Centre, the state governments of Mizoram and Tripura and the MBDPF.

All the stakeholders had agreed to complete the repatriation of Brus to Mizoram by the end of September.

However, out of 5,000 refugee families, only 150 members of 42 families returned to Mizoram during the repatriation exercise between August 25 and September 25.

MBDPF leaders said the repatriation process could not take off as many heads of families could not obtain necessary documents like Aadhaar and ration cards and were yet to open bank accounts to fulfil the provisions of the agreement.

The Centre had stopped the assistance from October 1, but resumed it on October 22 with the condition that it would continue only till January 15.

The MBDPF recently said that it hoped that the newly-elected Mizo National Front (MNF) government in Mizoram initiate talks on the repatriation issue.

Official sources, however, said resumption of repatriation process is unlikely in the near future in view of the upcoming Parliamentary polls.

Thousands of Bru refugees from Mizoram fled to Tripura during an ethnic violence in 1997. The clashes broke out after a forest official was killed by Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) militants.

The Centre, in association with the governments of Mizoram and Tripura, was repatriating the displaced Brus in phases.

Though several Bru families have returned to Mizoram over the years, many refused to leave Tripura citing security reasons and inadequate package.

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