Additional Home Secretary of Mizoram Lalbiakzama said the Bru refugees languishing in North Tripura district are not willing to get their names enrolled in the proposed repatriation list.
In an attempt to ensure a smooth repatriation process for the Bru refugees from Mizoram, who have been living in makeshift camps in Tripura, a team led by special secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs Mahesh Kumar Singla was sent to the State last week.
Despite the efforts being taken up by the Union Home Ministry and Mizoram government, not a single Bru refugee has given their name for repatriation.
“Officials from Mizoram government have set up several camps where Brus who want repatriation could get enrolled, but as none turned up, the officials came back yesterday (Monday). We have done what had been asked to do by the Union Home Ministry. The ministry’s special secretary was there and saw how things happened in the camps. It is now up to the ministry to take further actions,” Lalziakzama, the Additional Home Secretary of Mizoram said.
The study team visited several refugee camps and things were going as planned until infuriated mob attacked the visiting officials at Kanchanpur camp on Saturday last. To avoid any more untoward incident, the official team left the refugee settlements.
“The Mizoram government will file an official report to the Home Ministry and I believe, the special secretary from the Ministry will also do the same. It’s a waiting game for us now. Until the Home Ministry gives further instruction, we have been left with no option to go ahead with the repatriation process,” Lalbiakzama said.
In 1997, some Bru miscreants killed a wildlife game watcher near Persang in Mizoram’s Mamit district, fearing an ethnic backlash. The Bru community people from Mizoram fled to Tripura in mass exodus. Till then, ten attempts were made to repatriate the Brus by the Mizoram government following the order of the Union Home Ministry; but only a handful of them have agreed to return.
The larger NGOs of the State have demanded that a thorough identification of the refugees be made before any repatriation, which the Bru refugees have termed as a sign that they are not welcomed back to Mizoram.
The Brus also demanded that they be resettled in groups which the NGOs of Mizoram are apprehensive of. NGOs said that group resettlement of the Brus would affect the political demarcation and wanted to resettle the Brus in their original villages before the exodus.
The largest NGO of the State, the Central YMA has reiterated its stand that bona fide Brus of Mizoram are always welcome to come back, but said that the large number of Brus now settling at the camps are not from Mizoram.
“The YMA is ready to accept the bona fide Bru citizens of Mizoram to come back home. They may come back anytime, provided the Brus are identified and resettled at their respective homes before they leave for Tripura,” Lalhmachhuana, general secretary of Central YMA said.