AGARTALA/AIZAWL, Oct 15 - A total of 408 people belonging to 88 displaced Bru families staying in six relief camps of Tripura have left for their homeland, Mizoram, since the repatriation exercise began on October 3, officials said today.
A total of 4,447 Bru families, lodged in the relief camps at Kanchanpur and Panisagar subdivisions of North Tripura district, are scheduled to return to the neighbouring State from where they had fled since 1997 following ethnic clashes.
The Bru community, also called Reangs, is among the 21 Scheduled Tribes in the country. They are scattered across Assam, Mizoram and Tripura. Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Kanchanpur, Abhedananda Baidya said 235 Bru people of 45 families have been repatriated.
His Panisagar counterpart, N Darlong, said 173 people belonging to 43 families have left for Mizoram till date during the ninth round of repatriation, which is termed as the “final” one. The repatriation is scheduled to continue till November 30.
Mizoram officials said 22 Bru families from various relief camps have been repatriated on Monday. The repatriation is being carried out despite some Bru organisations opposing the exercise.
On October 4, posters opposing the repatriation and demand for a separate autonomous district council for the Bru community were found in the relief camps. However, no untoward incident was reported then.
Mizoram Bru Indigenous Democratic Movement leader Phillip Apeto had said they were not satisfied with the rehabilitation package and a district council for the Brus under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution must be created.
A memorandum submitted by three Bru organisations to Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana had also expressed apprehension that the Bru community would lose their identity if they return to Mizoram in the present situation.
During the eighth round of repatriation, the Ministry of Home Affairs had warned that the relief camps would be closed down from October 1, 2018 and free rations and money doled out to the displaced families would be discontinued. However, that phase did not bear much fruit.
While the Home Ministry stopped free rations and the cash dole from October 1, 2018, the Centre restarted it apparently due to political reasons as the Mizoram Assembly election was nearing.
The Centre has approved of Rs 350 crore for the ninth phase of repatriation and the amount covers transportation and rehabilitation package expenses, which include Rs 5,000 per month for each resettled Bru family in Mizoram and free rations for them for two years.
Eight attempts had been made to repatriate the Brus and only around 1,681 families have returned to Mizoram since 2010 and were resettled in Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts.
The vexed Bru problem started when the Bru people, spearheaded by an organisation, Bru National Union, demanded a separate autonomous district council by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura in September, 1997.
The situation was aggravated by the murder of a forest guard in the Dampa Tiger Reserve in western Mizoram by Bru National Liberation Front insurgents on October 21, 1997.
The first attempt to repatriate the Brus from Tripura from November 16, 2009 not only fizzled out due to the murder of a Mizo youth at Bungthuam village on November 13, 2009, but also triggered another wave of exodus. – PTI