AIZAWL, June 12 - The Mizoram Government is making efforts to repatriate the Bru refugees from Tripura within this year, Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana informed the State Legislative Assembly today.
Replying to an unstarred question from C Lalsawivunga of the Opposition Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM), Lalchamliana said “tripartite efforts” are being made by the Centre, Mizoram Government and Tripura Government to complete the final phase of the Bru repatriation process before December-end. He also said that the State Government did not find it necessary to pay attention to the Bru families refusing to return during the proposed repatriation. The State Government will hold discussions with the Ministry of Home Affairs over the issue, if necessary,” he added.
Lalchamliana said that the State Government could not take immediate measures with regard to Bru repatriation due to the Lok Sabha elections held recently.
As an initial step, meetings of district-level core committees will be held by officials of the State Home Department and the deputy commissioners of Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib districts, where the Bru families will be resettled.
Nearly 35,000 Bru refugees are still camping at six relief camps in North Tripura district since their flight from Mizoram following communal tension triggered by the murder of a Mizo forest guard by former Bru militants in 1997.
Several attempts to repatriate them since 2009 have been futile as the Bru refugees refused to return to their villages in Mizoram, citing security reasons and inadequate rehabilitation packages.
During the last identification conducted in 2016, Mizoram officials identified 32,876 Bru people belonging to 5,407 families as bona fide residents of Mizoram. Only 150 refugees from 42 families returned to their villages during the last repatriation exercise conducted between August and September last year.
Earlier, State Home Additional Secretary Lalbiaksangi had said that repatriation of the Bru people would be conducted after the rainy season, most probably from October. She had also said that the proposed repatriation would be final, according to the agreement reached by the State Government and civil society groups ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in April. According to the official, re-identification of Bru families will be required as some families were missed during the last identification in 2016.