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Bru refugees block road demanding resumption of free ration

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Press Trust of India
Hundreds of Bru refugees living in relief camps in Tripura on Thursday launched an indefinite blockade at a key area in North Tripura district demanding resumption of free ration and cash-dole to them.
An organisation of Bru refugees on Tuesday threatened to launch the indefinite roadblock at Anandabazar in Kanchanpur subdivision. Anandabazar is known for a prominent market in that area where two Bru relief camps are located.
The Centre has not supplied ration and cash dole to the 35,000 odd refugees for October while the repatriation process of the displaced Bru people is still on.
"The Brus have blocked the road at Anandabazar between 10 am and 5 pm and announced that they would block the road every day during that time," Kanchanpur Sub-divisional Magistrate Abhedananda Baidya told PTI.
The administration tried to persuade them to withdraw the blockade. However, they threatened that they will continue with it until the supply of ration is restored, Baidya said.
No untoward incident was reported.
"The hungry and desperate displaced Brus could no longer merely watch the incessant crying of innocent children, bed-ridden patients and lactating mother for food," Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF) wrote to North Tripura District Magistrate Ravel H Kumar on Tuesday.
The decision to stop the supply of rations amid the repatriation was "unconstitutional and blatant violation of human rights", the letter signed by MBDPF general secretary Bruno Msha and president A Sawibunga read.
Altogether 4,447 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.
Maheswari, however, did not mention any date when the relief camps would be closed down. The repatriation is scheduled to continue till November 30.
Every adult Bru person living in a camp gets Rs 3.50 in cash and 600 grams of rice per day as allowances, while each minor receive Rs 2.50 in cash and 300 grams of rice per day, official sources said adding that they get clothes in every three years.
This ninth round of Bru repatriation has been termed as the "final" one by the government.
The Bru community, also called Reangs, is among the 21 scheduled tribes in the country. They are scattered across Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.
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.
While the MHA did stop the free ration and cash dole from October one, 2018, the Centre restarted it apparently due to political reasons as Mizoram assembly election was nearing.
The Centre has approved Rs 350 crore for the ninth phase of repatriation and the amount covers transportation and rehabilitation package expenses, which include Rs 5,000 per month for each resettled Bru family in Mizoram and free ration for them for two years.
Eight attempts had been made to repatriate the Brus and only around 1,681 families have returned to Mizoram since 2010 and were resettled in Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts.
The vexed Bru problem started when the Bru people, spearheaded by an organisation, Bru National Union, demanded a separate autonomous district council by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura in September, 1997.
The situation was aggravated by the murder of a forest guard in the Dampa Tiger Reserve in western Mizoram by Bru National Liberation Front insurgents on October 21, 1997.
The first attempt to repatriate the Brus from Tripura from November 16, 2009 not only fizzled out due to the murder of a Mizo youth at Bungthuam village on November 13, 2009, but also triggered another wave of exodus.

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First Published: Oct 31 2019 | 8:55 PM IST

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