National Concerns: 34,000 Bru refugees to be settled in Tripura

Bru refugees to be settled in Tripura

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In News:

  • A quadripartite pact was signed by Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) with the State governments of Tripura, Mizoram and leaders of Bru community to permanently settle around 34,000 internally displaced people in Tripura.

News Summary:

  • A quadripartite pact was signed by Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) with the State governments of Tripura, Mizoram and leaders of Bru community to permanently settle around 34,000 internally displaced people in Tripura.
  • However, the Brus who settled in Mizoram would not have an option to come back.
  • The Centre has sanctioned around Rs 600 crore as a settlement package.
  • Tripura’s erstwhile royal Pradyot Deb Barman, who is one of the signatories, said he would donate 35 acres of land for the purpose.

Facilities to be offered:

  • The Brus are expected to get voting rights in Tripura and “tribal status”.
  • The community members would also get a one-time assistance of Rs 4 lakh as fixed deposit.
  • A 40/30 feet plot of land, an aid of Rs 5,000/month for the next two years, free ration and Rs 1.5 lakh to build houses will also be given to them.

In Focus: Bru/ Riang Tribe

  • Bru is one among the 21 scheduled tribes of the Indian state of Tripura.
  • The Bru, also known as the Reangs due to their dialect, are the second most populous tribe of Tripura, after the Tripuris.
  • The Bru may also be found in Mizoram, Assam, Manipur, and Bangladesh.

Language:

  • They speak the Reang dialect of Kokborok language which is of Tibeto-Burmese origin and is locally referred to as Kau Bru.

Culture and religion:

  • The marriage system is similar to other Tripuri tribes of Tripura. There is no dowry system.
  • Dance – Hojagiri folk dance.
  • Popular festival – Buisu.
  • The majority of the Reang belong to the Vaishnav school of Hinduism and claim Kshatriya status.

Background to their struggle:

  • In mid 1990s, Mizo nationalists demanded the Brus be left out of the Mizoram state’s electoral rolls, contending that the tribe was not indigenous to Mizoram.
  • Reangs demanded creation of an autonomous council that was vehemently opposed by Mizo groups.
  • In a reactionary movement against Mizo nationalist groups, the Bru militancy took birth.
  • In 1997, the murder of a Mizo forest guard at the Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram allegedly by Bru militants led to a violent backlash against the community.
  • It forced several thousand people belonging to Bru community to flee to neighboring Tripura.
  • The displaced Bru people from Mizoram have been living in various camps in Tripura since 1997.
  • About 33,000 people belonging to nearly 5,500 families have been living in the refugee camps in the Jampui Hills of Tripura.

Agreement between Bru group and Governments for repatriation to Mizoram:

  • In a major breakthrough on repatriation of displaced Bru persons from Mizoram, an agreement was signed by Government of India, Governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) in July 2018.
  • The agreement assured each refugee family a plot of land in Mizoram, Rs 1.6 lakh as assistance for constructing a house, Rs 5,000 per month for sustenance and free ration for two years, and Rs 4 lakh to be deposited in the bank until maturity on completion of three years of uninterrupted stay in Mizoram.
  • The nearly 5,500 families in temporary camps in Tripura were to repatriate to Mizoram by September, 2018.
  • Government of India assured financial assistance for rehabilitation of Brus in Mizoram and address their issues of security, education, livelihood etc. in consultation with Governments of Mizoram and Tripura.
  • A Committee under Special Secretary (Internal Security) was to coordinate the implementation of this agreement.

But repatriation did not happen:

  • However, there has not been much movement in repatriation of Bru migrants from Mizoram back to the state with only about 100 families moving.
  • This is because most of the Brus in Tripura camps rejected the final repatriation process.
  • Only about 328 families moved back.
  • The MBDPF said the refugees wanted to be settled in Mamit district of Mizoram but were scattered close to non-Bru settlements and were thus vulnerable to violence (like in 1997).
  • They also say the repatriation so far has not gone according to what the government had promised, with the Mizoram government not issuing ration cards to the families who returned.
  • The Bru leaders have also alleged that those who accepted the rehabilitation package had not been allotted land to construct houses and had been kept in huts, where they were sharing community kitchens and toilets.
Bru refugees to be settled in Tripura
Bru refugees to be settled in Tripura

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