Sunday, August 14, 2022

New houses for Bru refuges in Tripura

The hills of Haduklau, in Longterai range of Tripura’s Dhalai district are now dotted with smart new cottages, which will permanently house some 92 Bru families, who have been living in refugee camps for the last 25 years following ethnic clashes in their original homeland in Mizoram.
Over 400 Bru people left a relief camp to set up their homes on land provided by the government as a move to permanently solve the `refugee’ status of the community.
Several thousands of Bru or Rheang tribals had to leave their villages in the borderlands of Mizoram after clashes between Bru and majority Mizos in 1997, which saw dozens of Bru villages being burnt down, besides the death of an unrecorded number of tribal people.
Officials estimate the total number of Brus who are internally displaced at over 37,136. These refugees were sheltered in seven camps for more than 25-years in Kanchanpur subdivision of Tripura.
“The process of settling the Bru tribals exiled for 25 years in Tripura began last year. The central government has taken a humanitarian view and worked to solve the problem,” Union Minister of state for social empowerment Pratima Bhowmick said.
Sub-divisional Magistrate of Kanchanpur, Subhash Acharya, said the displaced people would be vacated from the subdivision and rehabilitated in different parts of the state by August 31 this year.
Thalirung Reang (45), a displaced Bru is among those who finally has a permanent home in Haduklau. A visibly happy Thalirung said, “We have got land, money to construct our own house. English medium schools were set up for our kids and we were assured by the administration that Antoday cards would be given to us for subsidised ration”.
Those who moved as part of the first batch were rehabilitated, following an agreement signed in January last year among representatives of the community, the Centre and the governments of Tripura and Mizoram.
A 1,200-square feet plot has been allotted to each rehabilitated Bru family and Rs 1.5 lakh provided by the government to build a home.
The agreement guarantees a fixed deposit of Rs 4 lakh for each family, a monthly sum of Rs 5,000 and free monthly ration for two years besides setting up of schools in all cluster villages.
Dr Manas Dev, an officer on special duty (OSD), who oversees the entire rehabilitation process, said that 1,638 Bru families were rehabilitated at four places – Haduklau and Bongaphapara in Dhalai district and Cascao and Waimbukcherra-Ranipara in North Tripura district.
Altogether 6,959 families will be rehabilitated in 14 places of the state.
“Their houses were built in Kalajhari hills and other parts of the state. More than 21,000 people who are yet to be rehabilitated, will be settled by August 31 and all the people would be vacated from camps in the Kanchanpur subdivision”, Acharya said.
The Bru problem rose from ethnic conflict, demands for a separate Bru autonomous district which other tribals were unwilling to concede and led to a situation where the community became like the Kashmiri Pandits, an interally displaced community.
The Centre, along with the governments of Tripura and Mizoram, had long tried to repatriate them to their home state but with little success.
The first attempt to repatriate the Brus from Tripura was made in November 2009 and the last one in 2019.
Most Bru families have refused to return to Mizoram, citing security concerns and inadequate rehabilitation package.
In January 2020, an agreement was hammered out to permanently settle the community in Tripura.
Under the pact, the Union Home Ministry has committed to under-write the whole expenditure of the settlement. The package assures each refugee family a plot, fixed deposit of Rs 4 lakh, Rs 1.5 lakh to build a house, free ration and a monthly stipend of Rs 5,000 for two years.


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