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Refugees don't leave Tripura for Mizoram
Refugees don't leave Tripura for Mizoram

Agartala/Aizawl, June 17 (IANS) The much-awaited repatriation of tribal refugees from Tripura didn't resume Tuesday as the displaced men and women refused to go back to Mizoram unless their demands were met.

Over 36,000 Reang tribals are sheltered in seven camps in northern Tripura for almost 17 years.

"We want financial assistance of Rs.150,000 per family, political settlement of the ethnic problem and adequate security from paramilitary forces," refugee leader Ranjit Reang said.

He was speaking to reporters at Kanchanpur, 185 km north of the Tripura capital Agartala.

The Mizoram government earlier announced they would make necessary arrangements to take back the tribal refugees. But no officials of the Mizoram government Tuesday came to the refugee camps in Tripura.

The refugees, including women, began a sit-in demonstration at the Kanchanpur refugee camp Tuesday in support of their demands, which also included signing an agreement between the refugees, the union home ministry and the governments of Tripura and Mizoram.

North Tripura District Magistrate Sandeep R. Rathod told IANS on phone that they had arranged a large number of vehicles for the refugees to move to Mizoram. 

"But no tribal is ready to go back to western Mizoram," he said.

Over 36,000 Reang tribals, locally called 'Bru', are sheltered in seven camps in northern Tripura since October 1997.

They fled their villages in western Mizoram following clashes with the majority Mizos over the killing of a Mizo forest official in October 1997.

The Mizoram home department said in Aizawl that the central government had sanctioned Rs.7.87 crore as financial assistance for the repatriated refugees.

"An adequate amount of foodgrain has been stored to provide free ration to the repatriated tribal refugees for one year," an official added.

The official said refugee leaders had told the Supreme Court's Special Commissioner Harsh Mander that if the Mizoram government ensured their security and livelihood, they would return to their villages.

Mizoram Home Minister R. Lalzirliana met senior officials in Aizawl recently and decided to facilitate the return of the refugees.

Only about 5,000 refugees have returned to their homes in the past three-and-a-half years.

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