Repatriation of tribals from Tripura to Mizoram begins

AIZAWL / AGARTALA:

Setting aside the impasse over repatriation of 35,000 tribal refugees to their homeland, 233 Reang tribal refugees of 46 families on Thursday left Tripura for their villages in Mizoram, officials said.

"Under the supervision of the Tripura and Mizoram governments, the repatriation of the refugees will continue till November," Abeda Nanda Baidya, Sub-Divisional Magistrate of northern Tripura's Kanchanpur, told IANS over phone.

He said 233 people returned to western Mizoram through Damchara (border town) in several vehicles, arranged by the Mizoram government. The North Tripura District administration provided food and security to them.

North Tripura District Magistrate and Collector Raval H. Kumar and senior officials of Mamit District in western Mizoram were present during the repatriations.

A Mizoram Home Department official in Aizawl said the Union Home Ministry recently approved Rs 350 crore for rehabilitation, after the completion of the ninth phase of repatriation from seven relief camps in northern Tripura.

The approval came during a joint monitoring group meeting, chaired by Union Home Ministry's Special Secretary (internal security) A.P. Maheswari, in Delhi earlier this month.

Over 35,000 Reang tribals were living in the relief camps in northern Tripura for 22 years after fleeing their villages due to communal tension.

The refugee leaders of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF) in a letter to the Mizoram Home Minister on Monday said they would not return to their homes until demands for safety and security were met. The letter to Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana was sent through the North Tripura District Magistrate. The provisions of the four-partite agreement, signed in Delhi on July 3, 2018, had been violated, they alleged.

The letter, available with IANS, urged the Mizoram government to hold the joint monitoring group meeting for a permanent solution to the problem.

Meanwhile, the signing of the July 3 agreement, grain and other relief supplies to the Reang refugees were to be stopped to compel them to return to Mizoram. But it was extended twice till March 31, 2019 and then again till September 30.

"A Home Ministry letter to the Chief Secretaries of Tripura and Mizoram had said the refugees have to be repatriated by September 30," a Tripura Revenue and Relief department official told IANS.

They are residents of nine of the state's 40 Assembly constituencies in the three Mizoram districts of Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib. The July 3, 2018 agreement had also finalised a six-point benefit package for each refugee family.

It included Rs 4 lakh financial aid, monthly allowance of Rs 5,000, Rs 1.5 lakh for building a house for each family and free ration for two years. But the refugees later refused the package demanding security by central paramilitary forces and allotment of five hectares of land to each refugee family, besides formation of an Area Development Council for the Reang tribals, a primitive tribe among the tribals.