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Repatriation uncertain as new Bru body raises fresh demands
Correspondent
 AGARTALA, Aug 9 - The much-awaited repatriation of Bru refugees sheltered in relief camps in North Tripura district seems to be running into rough weather once again.

The Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), which has been ‘ruling’ the refugees for 22 long years, has suffered a vertical split over the repatriation agreement inked in New Delhi on July 3.

A new refugee body, Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Coordination Committee (MBDPCC), has been formed with SH Laldingliyana as its president and SH Rukhma as the general secretary.

In a meeting held at the Naisingpara refugee camp, the new refugee body declared that the MBDPF is no longer an organisation of Bru refugees. “They inked an agreement in Delhi on July 3 for their own welfare by compromising on the interests of Bru refugees,” Rukhma said in a press release today.

“MBDPF leaders Burno Meshe and L Saibunga had entered into a deal without taking into confidence the refugees sheltered in six relief camps,” he alleged.

The seven demands raised by the new refugee body include: 1) constitution of an Area Development Council (ADC) for the Reang ethnic tribe; 2) allotment of five acres of land to each repatriated family; 3) setting up of cluster/model villages for proper rehabilitation; 4) cash dole must be released before beginning of repatriation; 5) preparation of electoral rolls of Bru citizens before the repatriation process gets started; 6) granting general amnesty, and 7) foolproof security to Bru people after repatriation.

Despite signing of the repatriation agreement, there has been simmering tension in the relief camps and MBDPF leaders were manhandled by angry refugees. In the face of strong opposition, MBDPF leaders had to opt out of the agreement.

With this development, repatriation of Bru refugees, which was supposed to start later this month, has taken a new turn with the new refugee body raising unrealistic demands to stall the process.

It is to be seen how things unfold in the days to come as the Centre is keen on solving the vexed issue following pressure from the Tripura Government.

Aizawl Correspondent adds: A few days ahead of the scheduled repatriation of Bru refugees from Tripura, a new Bru refugees’ organisation has come up with a fresh charter of demands, jeopardising the Government’s plan to repatriate them starting from August 14.

In a memorandum submitted to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh through the BDO of Dasda, Tripura, on August 8, the MBDPCC claimed that the agreement signed among the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), the apex body of the refugees, Centre and the State Governments of Mizoram and Tripura in New Delhi on July 3 did not fulfil the wishes of “the absolute majority of the displaced Brus”.

The four parties had on July 3 signed an agreement for repatriation of all the Bru refugees from Tripura before September 30.

L Laldingliana, president of MBDPCC, claimed that his organisation’s demands were supported by all the inmates of the six relief camps in northern Tripura. “Nobody will accept repatriation unless the Area Development Council (ADC) and other demands are met with,” he said.

However, these demands, which were also raised in the past, have met with stiff opposition from Mizo organisations back home.

Vanlalruata, president of the central committee of Young Mizo Association, the largest civil society in Mizoram, said, “The Mizo people do not support any separatist demands like forming an ADC. We do not want to divide Mizoram into any segment or among different tribes.” Vanlalruata is also the chairman of the Mizoram NGOs’ Coordination Committee that comprises all civil societies, student bodies and political parties in Mizoram.

The Mizoram Government has said preparations for the Bru repatriation are in full swing, and the repatriation will start from August 14 as scheduled.

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