AIZAWL, June 2 - As the Mizoram Government prepares for final repatriation of Bru refugees from Tripura, the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), the umbrella organisation of the refugees, has demanded that all “pending issues” be settled before the repatriation takes off.
According to the MBDPF, about 1,000 families “were still uncertain about their security post repatriation and therefore unwilling to return to Mizoram.”
During the last identification conducted in 2016, Mizoram had identified 32,876 Bru people belonging to 5,407 families as bona fide residents of Mizoram. They are currently lodged at six camps in North Tripura. In the re-identification process in 2018, only 2,753 people belonging to 423 families expressed their willingness to return to Mizoram, the forum said.
MBDPF general secretary Bruno Msha said that after 1997, which was the year the first wave of Bru families fled to Tripura following ethnic conflict, there have been at least 1,000 new families who have to be identified by the Mizoram Government and made eligible for repatriation, rehabilitation and relief.
“Besides, the Bru people want to settle in a contiguous area in Mizoram for their own safety, integrity, unity, preservation of culture, language and identity. As such, we want the rehabilitation centres located in a contiguous area. Currently, they are scattered, with a few of them on the outskirts, which is not suitable,” Msha said.
The forum further pointed out that bank accounts of the camp inmates have to be opened and requisite identification documents such as Aadhar cards, etc., generated.
“These are issues which we think the Centre and State Government can sort out for the repatriation to begin. We are optimistic that all pending issues would be sorted out in the next few months,” he said.
The MBDPF had in November last year submitted a memorandum to the Centre and Mizoram Government in regard to the pending issues.
As a partner in a quadrilateral agreement (between the Centre, Tripura and Mizoram) signed in July last year, MBDPF has been pressing for implementation of the Bru repatriation process since the signing of the agreement.
A senior official in the State Home department said preparations are on to repatriate over 32,800 Bru refugees from Tripura to Mizoram, which is likely to begin in October.
State Home additional secretary Lalbiaksangi said the final phase of repatriation of over 5,000 Bru families lodged at six relief camps in Tripura will be conducted as per the agreement between the Mizoram Government and civil society groups ahead of Lok Sabha polls. “Though the actual date has not been decided the State Government is planning to conduct the proposed repatriation after the rainy season most probably in October,” she said.