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Mizoram begins hearing of claims

 AIZAWL, Aug 27 - Officials today began hearing the claims and objections of 260 displaced Brus, whose names were excluded from the list of Mizoram’s bonafide citizens during an identification process in July, State Home Secretary Lalbiakzama said.

 Altogether, 26,128 Brus, lodged in six relief camps of neighbouring Tripura, have made it to the list, he said. Over the next one week, officials from three districts of Mizoram will hear the pleas of those excluded from the list, Lalbiakzama stated. Most of them are willing to return to Mizoram from Tripura’s relief camps, but “hardliners and anti-repatriation organisations” may dissuade them from doing so, he claimed.

The district officials will prepare a final list after a thorough verification of the claims and objections, Lalbiakzama said. “A total of 350 names were excluded from the list, but 90 names were cleared after a scrutiny in Aizawl. The final list will be prepared after a thorough verification of the claims,” the Home Secretary said. Thousands of Brus fled to Tripura in 1997 in the wake of communal tension triggered by the killing of a forest guard by militants inside the Dampa Tiger Reserve .

The Centre and the governments of Mizoram and Tripura have made multiple attempts to repatriate the Brus to their home State since 2009, but majority of them stayed back in the relief camps, citing inadequate rehabilitation package.

The Government has promised to deposit Rs 4 lakh in the bank account of every repatriated family. It has also assured a sum of Rs 1.5 lakh as housing assistance, free rations and Rs 5,000 for other expenses for two years. The next phase of repatriation is likely to be held in October, the Home Secretary added.

Police sources had earlier said that Bru insurgents have threatened the community members from returning to Mizoram as they plan to escalate their demand for a separate autonomous district council carved out of western Mizoram, adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura.

The first attempt to repatriate the Brus in November 2009 had fizzled out following the murder of a Mizo youth at Bungthuam village in Mamit district. The murder had also triggered a fresh wave of exodus. The Bru community, also called Reangs, is among the 21 scheduled tribes in the country. They are scattered across Assam, Mizoram and Tripura. – PTI

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