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Meeting fails to decide on Reang refugees’ repatriation
Published on 5 Nov. 2009 11:37 PM IST
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The tripartite meeting between representatives of the central and Mizoram governments and tribal refugees failed to resolve the 12-year deadlock to repatriate 35,000 Reang migrants from Tripura to Mizoram, officials said Thursday. The meeting Wednesday saw representatives try and hammer out a solution to the repatriation issue that has been hanging fire for 12 years following differences between the migrants and the state government over the rehabilitation package. The Reang (locally called Bru) tribal refugees have been living in six north Tripura camps since 1997 after they fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos. “Both the centre and the Mizoram government rejected our major demands. We will not return to our homes unless our vital demands are fulfilled,” said Elvis Chorkhy, who led the seven-member refugee delegation at the meeting. “We will boycott the repatriation process as both the Mizoram government and the centre are not sincere and serious about conceding our long pending demands.” The daylong marathon meeting that ended inconclusively over details of the economic settlement was also attended by director in the union home ministry R.R. Jha and a 20-member Mizoram government team headed by its Home Secretary Lalmalsawma. Government officials told the Reang refugees that they should return to their homeland first and then their demands would be considered. “The Mizoram government would arrange all logistical facilities, including vehicles to initiate the repatriation of refugees from Nov 16 and close down all the six relief camps in northern Tripura by March 31 next year,” a Mizoram government spokesperson said. The refugee leaders have demanded Rs.50,000 for each family, rehabilitation in cluster villages and Rs.38,500 and five bundles of galvanised corrugated sheets for housing to each family. “The Mizoram government package for the home-bound refugees suggested a Rs.20,000 cash grant instead of Rs.50,000 as promised earlier. The package also recommended a scattered resettlement of the 35,000 tribal refugees in three different districts - Mamit, Kolashib and Lunglei. We want compact rehabilitation of the tribals in two districts in southern Mizoram,” Chorky had told IANS earlier. Besides, the Reang tribals want deployment of the Central Para Military Force (CPMF) in the proposed resettlement and Reang tribal-dominated areas instead of state security force to prevent further violence. “The union home ministry official has rejected the demand,” Chorkhy said. He added that the Mizoram government was also yet to fulfil the assurances given to the surrendered militants. In April 2005, the Mizoram government and the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) signed an agreement after 13 rounds of talks to solve the decade-old ethnic crisis. This led to the surrender of almost all the 1,040 extremists of the BNLF and the Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM). Following the advice of the union home ministry, a Bru Coordination Committee (BCC) was formed recently with the leaders of the MBDPF, BNLF and BLFM. The BCC is now supervising the issues relating to the repatriation and the demands. Giving the government’s point of view, Mizoram home Minister R. Lalzirliana earlier said: “Preparations for repatriation of tribal refugees from six relief camps in neighbouring north Tripura district are almost finalised.” “We hope that the repatriation process can soon be done after centre provides financial assistance for the proposed expenditure of Rs.258 million for implementation of the repatriation and resettlement package,” the minister told reporters last week. He said the Reang tribals would be settled in different districts where they were living before migrating to Tripura in October 1997 and that they should not be concentrated in one assembly constituency or in a district.

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