Despite the imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC, Bru refugees living in relief camps in Tripura continued the road blockade for the seventh day demanding resumption of free ration to them.
Leaders of three Bru organisations in the Tripura relief camps, however, said they have withdrawn the blockade on Tuesday afternoon but the people are adamant to continue with the agitation and would lift it after immediate issuance of ration and cash-dole.
A team headed by Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Debverma would meet the displaced people on Thursday to find out an amicable solution as road communication from Ananda Bazar to Kanchapur via Dasda in North Tripura district has collapsed due to the blockade, an official said.
"Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC was imposed at Anandabazar on November 4 night and that is still in force. Personnel of the CRPF, Tripura State Rifles and the state police were deployed there. But we are yet to use force (to lift the blockade)," North Tripura Superintendent of Police Bhanupada Chakraborty said.
No untoward incident was reported till now, he said.
An organisation of Bru refugees on October 29 threatened to launch the indefinite roadblock at Anandabazar, known for a prominent market in that area where two relief camps are located. The blockade commenced from October 31.
The Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF) had claimed on Monday that six people including babies have died in relief camps since October 29 "because of starvation" after the Centre stopped the supply of ration and cash dole to the 35,000 odd refugees for October.
Tripura government, however, said four Bru inmates of the relief camps have died so far and medical teams have been sent there.
Senior Tripura government officials including Additional Chief Secretary Kumar Alok met the Bru leaders on Monday and urged them to withdraw the blockade.
In a statement on Wednesday, three Bru organisations said they have withdrawn the road blockade at around 2:30 AM on November 5 "honouring the request of Additional Chief Secretary Kumar Alok."
However, the agitators refused to lift the blockade without any "positive commitment" made by either the Centre or the government of Tripura about the resumption of free ration and cash-dole, the statement said.
Each adult in the relief camps used to get Rs 2.67 and a minor Rs 1.33 a day as cash-dole while the quantity of rice was 450 gm for an adult per day and 225 gm for a minor per day as free ration, official sources said.
The statement claimed that without proper food, the inmates have been forced to depend on bamboo shoots, jungle yams, wild plantains and also non-edible items causing diseases like diarrhoea and cholera in the refugees.
"Nearly 50 persons have been admitted in the hospital till date," the statement said.
Meanwhile, a team comprising Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Debverma, ministers Ratan Nath and Shantana Chakma and MPs will visit Kanchanpur on Thursday.
"The team would try to convince the agitating Bru inmates of the rehabilitation camps to withdraw the road blockade and find out an immediate solution to the problem," a senior official said at Agartala.
One of the Mizoram government officials who is now in Kanchanpur to carry out the repatriation told PTI that they were in a dilemma as trying to enter the relief camps while the road blockade was in place could heighten tension.
The MBDPF had earlier said the decision to stop the supply of rations amid the repatriation of Brus to their homeland Mizoram was "unconstitutional and blatant violation of human rights".
Over 4,000 Bru displaced families, lodged in the relief camps at Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions of North Tripura district, are scheduled to return to neighbouring Mizoram from where they had fled since 1997 following ethnic clashes.
The Centre had made it clear that the relief camps of Bru refugees in Tripura would be closed down and the displaced persons must be repatriated to Mizoram during the ongoing exercise, Special Secretary (internal security), Ministry of Home Affairs, A P Maheshwari, had said on October 16.
This ninth round of Bru repatriation - scheduled to be continued till November 30 - has been termed as the "final" one by the government.
During the eighth round of repatriation, the Ministry of Home Affairs had warned that the relief camps would be closed down from October one 2018 and free ration and money doled to the displaced families would be discontinued. However, that phase did not bear much fruit.
The Bru community, also called Reangs, is among the 21 scheduled tribes in the country. They are scattered across Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.
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