Protest against resettlement of Brus

Agartala, Nov 16 (IANS) | Publish Date: 11/16/2020 12:48:10 PM IST

Life was crippled in northern Tripura’s Kanchanpur subdivision on Monday as the Joint Movement Committee called a shutdown for an indefinite period in protest against the government’s decision to rehabilitate thousands of tribal refugees, who fled adjoining Mizoram 23 years ago following ethnic strife in the area.

According to Sub-Divisional Police Officer Bikramjit Sukladas, there was no untoward incident in view of the indefinite shutdown, which began at 6 a.m., called by the Joint Movement Committee (JMC), comprising tribal and non-tribal leaders.

“Government offices, markets, shops and business establishments remained closed while all types of vehicles, except those of the security forces, health and media, remained off the roads,” Sukladas told IANS over the phone from Kanchanpur, adjoining Mizoram.

Several thousand bandh supporters, including women and children organised protest rallies and demonstrations in front of the government offices and markets.

JMC Convener Sushanta Bikash Barua said that they had earlier welcomed the state government’s decision to rehabilitate a small number of the tribal refugees in Kanchanpur.

He said: “Considering the area and demography of the Kanchanpur subdivision, we had urged the government, on a number of occasions, to rehabilitate not more than 500 refugee families here, but the government unilaterally initiated the process to settle 5,000 tribal families in the area.”

Barua, accompanied by the other leaders of the JMC, said that on September 22, a 12-hour strike was observed demanding to alter the state government’s decision to rehabilitate the huge number of tribal refugees, but the state government remained firm on its decision.

The Nagarik Suraksha Mancha (Citizen protection forum) and Mizo Convention, both representing the non-tribals and Lusai (Lushai) tribals are part of the JMC. The ethnic issue also spread and reflected in the adjoining sub-divisions of Kanchanpur.

An agreement was signed in January this year to end the 23-year-old crisis by rehabilitating over 34,000 refugees, from 5,400 families of the Reang community, locally called “Bru”, in different places of Tripura, including Kanchanpur, where they had migrated in 1997 from Mizoram following ethnic conflict.

The agreement was signed by the Chief Secretaries of Mizoram, Tripura and the representatives of the refugees in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

As per the agreement, which came after Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had in November last year agreed to accept the tribal refugees, the Reang will settle in Tripura and will be given aid for their rehabilitation.

These tribals would also be included as voters in Tripura as per the agreement.

The Centre has announced a package of Rs 600 crore for the settlement of these tribals, recognised as a primitive tribe in Tripura.

Of the package, Rs 150 lakh will be given to the Tripura government for the land acquisition, and the rest of the money will be spent upon the welfare of these tribals, who traditionally follow the unscientific “Jhum” (slash and burn) method of cultivation.


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