The Bru-Reang Agreement ended 27 years old Bru crisis and paved way for settlement of Bru refugees in Tripura benefiting almost 35,000 refugee families.
Agartala, March 09, 2020: The Bru-Reang Agreement commonly said Bru Agreement resolved long standing Bru-Reang Migrant crisis benefiting over 34,000 Bru-Reang families. After a meeting between Government of India, Tripura and Mizoram Governments and Bru representatives, the agreement was signed in New Delhi on January 17, 2020. Union Home Minister Amit Shah presided over the meeting. Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, Assam Minister cum NEDA Chairman Himanta Biswa Sarma, Tripura Royal family member and ex-Congress Tripura president Pradyut Kishore Debbarma and others were present in the meeting.
This multi-stack holders’ meeting came up after series of Bru repatriation steps had failed.
Bru-Reang people fled away from their native villages in Mizoram after ethnic violence and took shelter in six refugee camps in Kanchanpur and other areas under North Tripura District in 1997. Earlier, several failed attempts were made to repatriate them to their native villages – few Bru people repatriated but most of the Bru refugees stayed back in relief camps in Tripura.
About Bru Agreement
In the agreement, following points were mentioned pertaining to Bru refugees staying in relief camps in Tripura.
- Bru refugees would be permanently settled in Tripura. These Bru tribals will now be included in voters’ list in Tripura (Prior to the agreement, these Bru people were included in Mizoram Voters’ list) and they will be treated as residents of Tripura.
- A settlement package was announced in which the Central Government would provide Rs 600 crore for the settlement of Bru-Reang refugees.
- Home Minister Amit Shah informed media that Bru refugees will get a 40-by-30-ft plot and an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh for each family to construct own houses.The houses will constructed under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
- Fixed deposit of Rs 4 lakh for each family
- Each Bru family will receive cash assistance of Rs 5,000 per month for two years
- Free ration for two years.
- According to the agreement, Tripura Government will allocate land for rehabilitation of Bru people in the State.
Earlier efforts to end Bru crisis
Meetings were held between Government of India, Tripura and Mizoram Government several times in the past. Even an agreement was also signed in 2018 – the agreement offered similar benefits to Bru people, but it also mentioned that packages would be available to only those who want to repatriate to their native villages in Mizoram. Following the 2018 Bru Repatriation Agreement, only 327 families went in two years whereas larger section refused to go back to Mizoram. To understand reasons behind, failure of repatriation bid we need to look back and know reasons why did Bru flee to Tripura from Mizoram.
Hard-line elements within the autonomy movement then launched an armed struggle. In 1997, Bru National Liberation Front allegedly killed a Mizo forest guard. The killing was followed by ethnic riots, forcing over 30,000 Bru villagers to flee Mizoram and seek shelter in Tripura, where they have been staying since then.
Resentment on settlement
The relation between Mizo and Bru-Reang people can be gauged from the fact that local Mizo people living in and around Jampui Hill in North Tripura are vehemently opposing arrangements of settlement in and anywhere near Jampui Hills in Tripura. Mizo organizations are regularly highlighting their opposition. Local Bengali speaking are also opposing resettlement of Bru people in the area.
Both Mizo and Bengali people were allegedly evicted from their locality after Bru refugees entered Tripura in 1997 and took shelter in refugee camps. A joint movement of displaced Mizo and Bengali people demanded rehabilitation package similar to package offered to Bru refugees. Locals also alleged involvement of Bru refugees in lootingand destroying properties of Bengali people during Anti-CAB (now CAA) move in December 2019.
Several times in the past Bru refugees hit news headline for wrong reasons – for involvement in anti-social activities, looting and snatching etc.
Six months after Bru migrants arrived in Tripura in 1997, a relief package announced in which 600 gm of rice was provided daily to every adult living in the camps and 300 gm to minors. The package also had provisions for a cash dole of Rs 5 per adult per day and Rs 2.5 for every minor.
In October 2019, the supply of ration was stopped on the instructions of the Home Ministry in a bid to hastily complete the repatriation of refugees to Mizoram. Despite suspension of ration facilities, Bru people were reluctant to go back to Mizoram and they staged road blockade demanding resumption of ration services. Later, State Government resumed the ration supply to relief camps.