Centre to withdraw assistance to Bru relief camps from October 1

Aizawal | The Centre has appealed to the Bru families housed in Tripura relief camps to return to Mizoram as assistance doled out to them would be withdrawn from October 1.

A meeting was held in Aizawl Monday between the state home department, police and the Centre, which was attended by leaders of the civil societies and representatives of the relief camps. Ministry of Home Affairs’ Joint Secretary (North East) Satyendra Garg said the Bru leaders in the relief camps would identify those who want to be repatriated and submit the names to the Centre and the Mizoram government.

The Bru refugees in the Tripura relief camps presently receive free ration and subsistence allowance of Rs 5 per day per person from the Centre. The transportation cost for the repatriated families would be borne by the Mizoram government but no state government official would be deployed in the relief camps, as was done earlier, to oversee the process, a senior state home department official who attended the meeting said.

The meeting was convened in the backdrop of a tepid response to the ongoing repatriation process of the Bru refugees from August 25 to September 25 in which only three families returned to Mizoram so far, the official said. The officials had earlier said that four families were repatriated since the process was kickstarted on August 25.

The official said that the meeting was attended by the state Principal Secretary for Home Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, top home department and police officials, president of the central committee of the Young Mizo Association (YMA), leaders of both Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Coordination Committee and also Elvis Chorkhy, chairman of the Equal Package Demand Committee, representing the Bru families already repatriated to Mizoram.

The state government withdrew the officials deployed ih the relief camps to undertake the physical repatriation process after four days of the commencement of the repatriation.

The Centre was earlier optimistic that the Bru families would return to Mizoram during the repatriation process after inking the agreement on July 3 between Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, chief ministers of Mizoram and Tripura and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) chief A Sawibunga in Delhi. As per the agreement, all the Bru refugees were to be repatriated before September 30.

The agreement stipulated that Rs 4 lakh for each repatriated Bru family would be deposited to the bank account of the head of the family which would mature after three years and payment of Rs 1.5 lakh as housing assistance. Each repatriated Bru family would be given Rs 5,000 through Direct Benefits Transfer every month and a free ration for two years.

Senior Ministry of Home Affairs officials said that the relief would be closed by first week of October and assistance doled out to the inmates will be discontinued forthwith.

Thousands of Brus had been lodged in the Tripura relief camps since late 1997 in the wake of a communal tension triggered by the brutal killing of Lalzawmliana, a forest guard, inside the Dampa Tiger Reserve on October 21, 1997 by Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) militants.

The first attempt to repatriate them from November 16, 2009 not only failed but triggered another wave of exodus after Bru militants gunned down a youth at Bungthuam village, three days before the commencement of the repatriation process.

Though some Bru families had already returned to Mizoram during a number of repatriation processes and on their own will, many of them continued to refuse to leave Tripura till date despite many attempts.

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