Demonstrators block the national highway in Dolubari village of North Tripura district in protest against the rehabilitation of Bru refugees from Mizoram in the state. Heavy security deployed at the spot, tear gas shells also fired. 23 years after ethnic clashes in Mizoram forced 37,000 people of the Bru (or Reang) community to flee their homes to neighbouring Tripura, an agreement has been signed to allow them to remain permanently in the latter state. A large contingent of security troops from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Tripura State Rifles (TSR) has been deployed to deal with the situation, police sources said.
— ANI (@ANI) November 21, 2020
The agreement among the Bru leaders and the governments of India, Tripura, and Mizoram, signed in New Delhi on January 16, gives the Bru the choice of living in either state. In several ways, the agreement has redefined the way in which internal displacement is treated in India.
Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Debbarman announced that the State government is ready to hold discussion with the protesters. “The Brus cannot be considered as refugees. They are citizens of the country,” he said indicating the government is unlikely to alter the rehabilitation programme.
He blamed the previous governments for not resolving the settlement matter. He credited his government and the NDA government at the Centre with finding a permanent solution to the stalemate.
#Tripura: Demonstrators protesting against the rehabilitation of Bru refugees from Mizoram vandalise, and set fire to vehicles in Dolubari village of North Tripura district https://t.co/b3VOknpcca pic.twitter.com/TXe6tr2czU
— ANI (@ANI) November 21, 2020
Bru or Reang is a community indigenous to Northeast India, living mostly in Tripura, Mizoram and Assam. In Tripura, they are recognised as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
In Mizoram, they have been targeted by groups that do not consider them indigenous to the state. In 1997, following ethnic clashes, nearly 37,000 Brus fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram and were accommodated in relief camps in Tripura.
Since then, 5,000 have returned to Mizoram in eight phases of repatriation, while 32,000 still live in six relief camps in North Tripura.
In June 2018, community leaders from the Bru camps signed an agreement with the Centre and the two-state governments, providing for repatriation in Mizoram. But most camp residents rejected the terms of the agreement.
The camp residents say that the agreement doesn’t guarantee their safety in Mizoram.
Each resettled family will get 0.03 acre (1.5 ganda) of land for building a home, Rs 1.5 lakh as housing assistance, and Rs 4 lakh as a one-time cash benefit for sustenance. They will also receive a monthly allowance of Rs 5,000, and free rations for two years from the date of resettlement.
Officials said the State government had selected 12 places including the Kanchanpur subdivision in north Tripura where the Brus have been housed in six makeshift camps since 1997. However, the decision to settle some of the refugees is facing protests from a local forum called Joint Movement.