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Center, Tripura government asks Mizoram to take back refugees
Center, Tripura government asks Mizoram to take back refugees

Agartala, Aug 22 (TIWN) Expressing deep anguish, the union home ministry has once again asked the Mizoram government to take back over 37,000 Reang tribal refugees, living in Tripura for almost 16 years, officials said here Thursday.

 “The union home secretary Anil Goswami  in a letter to the Mizoram Chief Secretary L. Tochhong has again asked to take necessary steps to take back the tribal refugees immediately,” Tripura government’s revenue department secretary Swapan Saha told reporters in Agartala.

Saha said:  “In a separate letter, Tripura Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar Panda requested Mizoram Chief Secretary to take appropriate steps so that the refugees could go back homes in western Mizoram.”

The Reang tribals, locally called “Bru”, had fled to northern Tripura after ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos over the killing of a Mizo forest official in September 1997.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in New Delhi last month and requested their personal intervention.

Sarkar told both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister that “long presence for over 16 years of refugees from Mizoram has been a matter of concern for Tripura”.

Sarkar said : “The long stay has its own socio-economic and law and order problems. The state government is providing necessary support for early repatriation of these families. However, the process has been extremely slow.”

However, refugees have been persisting that without a formal agreement between the Central, Mizoram and Tripura governments and tribal leaders, their repatriation to home and subsequent rehabilitation will remain uncertain.

The Reang tribal refugees, lodged since October 1997 in six makeshift camps in Kanchanpur sub-division of north Tripura, 180 km north of Agartala, have sent several memoranda to the prime minister and the union home minister in support of their 18-point charter of demands.

Their demands include, free ration to all repatriated refugees for one year, compensation to their “jhuming” (slash and burn method of cultivation), safety and security to all the minority tribals in Mizoram.

In the past, around 4,500 refugees had returned in 2010 and 2011 following continued persuasion by Mizoram and home ministry officials. However, the process got stalled after that.

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