AIZAWL, Sept 3 - The proposed final repatriation of over 26,000 Bru people from Tripura is likely to be deferred, an official of the Mizoram Home Department said today.
The official said that though the final reparation was scheduled to be conducted in October, it might get delayed as the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has not sanctioned money to meet the repatriation expenses. He added that the proposed repatriation plan would be chalked out once the Centre releases the requisite funds. He, however, maintained that the final repatriation would be conducted during the current year.
According to the official, preparations have been in full swing since May by holding a meeting of the district core committee on Bru repatriation at the border town of Kolasib, followed by a meeting at the Mizoram-Tripura-Bangladesh border town of Mamit and at the Bangladesh border town of Lunglei.
The official said that the State Government of Mizoram had conducted identification of Bru refugees lodged at six relief camps in Tripura between July 3 to 20. At least 26,128 people from 4,278 families were identified as bona fide residents of Mizoram during the exercise, he said. However, the official said that the figure was not final as reidentification was conducted to include those who have been left out during the identification process. “The reidentification is more or less complete. However, the final figure is yet to come out as a scrutiny will be held,” he added.
It may be mentioned here that the meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group on Bru repatriation held in New Delhi in June had decided to conduct the final phase of Bru repatriation in September.
The proposed repatriation was scheduled to be completed by October after which the Centre would close down all the six relief camps and stop doling out rations to the refugees. The refugees will be resettled in Mamit district, Kolasib and Lunglei districts, according to officials.
The State Government of Mizoram and the NGO Coordination Committee, an umbrella organisation of civil societies and student associations, which threatened to boycott the Parliamentary polls on the issue of exercise of franchise by Bru voters in the relief camps, reached an agreement before the Lok Sabha polls held in April, that the repatriation process would be taken up this year for the last time.
Thousands of Bru families fled Mizoram and migrated to Tripura following ethnic tension triggered by the murder of a Mizo forest guard by Bru militants in 1997. Several attempts by the Central, Mizoram and Tripura governments to repatriate them since 2009 had been futile as the refugees did not accept the repatriation packages.