Mizoram tribals in Tripura urge Centre to resume relief supplies

Agartala, Oct 10 : The Reang migrants from Mizoram, who have been sheltered in six relief camps in Tripura for over two decades and who were on the verge of repatriation, have urged the Centre to resume relief that has been stopped for the past 10 days, an official said on Wednesday.

With the repatriation of 32,876 refugees from Tripura to Mizoram still hanging in the balance, the government had stopped providing them relief from October 1.

It was aimed at compelling them to return to their villages in the neighbouring state from where they had fled 21 years back.

The Reang refugees, comprising 5,407 families, have been staying in Tripura's Kanchanpur and Panisagar since October 1997 following ethnic tension after a Mizo forest official was killed.

"The refugee leaders under the banner of Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF) in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh have urged the Centre to restart the supply of relief," the North Tripura District Administration official said.

The five-page letter signed by 14 refugee leaders, was sent to Modi and Singh through North Tripura District Magistrate Raval Hamendra Kumar.

Refugee leader and MBDPF General Secretary Bruno Msha said the refugees were willing to return to their villages in Mizoram but nine most vital basic and vital issues must be resolved before the repatriations.

These include opening of bank accounts (only 44 bank accounts have been opened out of the required 5,500), issuing of Aadhaar cards (only 40 per cent refugees have the UIDAI cards), distribution of ration cards, enrolment of the refugees' names in Mizoram's electoral lists, and identification of villages where these refugees would be settled post-repatriations.

"The refugees are now on the verge of starvation as their food and other essentials that were provided by the North Tripura district administration on September 29 and 30, are going to finish off in a day or two," the letter said.

"Hunger-stricken people might hold protest rallies, block roads, loot nearby food go-downs to save their children and family members.

The situation could deteriorate fast if the supplies are not immediately replenished," it added.

According to an agreement signed on the repatriation on July 3 in New Delhi, where Rajnath Singh, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and his Mizoram counterpart Lal Thanhawla were present, a six-point benefit package for each refugee family was promised.

It also included financial aid of Rs 4 lakh, a monthly allowance of Rs 5,000, Rs 1.5 lakh for building a house and free rations for two years.

Given these benefits, the refugees had agreed to return to three Mizoram districts from August 16 or 17.

But they later refused demanding security in Mizoram by central paramilitary forces and allotment of five hectares of land to each refugee family, besides the formation of an Area Development Council for the Reang tribals, locally called "Bru".

Only around 180 refugees have returned to the Mizoram villages since September 19.



Source: IANS