NEW DELHI: In a latest move, the displaced Bru tribals originally from Mizoram, who have been sheltering in Tripura for more than a decade, have demanded a status similar to the Kashmiri Pandits or Tamil Refugees in order to have better living conditions.

Mizo Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF), the only organisation of the Brus residing in a total of seven camps in North Tripura district, have submitted a 13-point charter of demands to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) delegation led by its Additional Secretary Rajib Gauba when it visited the camps.
The 13-point charter included the demand of status like Kashmiri Pandits or Tamil refugees, informed Bruno Mesa, General Secretary of MBDPF to PTI.

Arguing that the Brus also known as Reangs have been living in “inhuman conditions in the shelter camps since the last seventeen years, he said “ There is no school for the children. Though a few schools were being run by some NGOs, they closed down due to funds crunch. There is hardly any health care provision for the inmates”, adding , “ There is no toilet and bathrooms and our people bathe in small streams and face acute drinking water shortage. Infant mortality is high because there is no vaccine or nutrition for them”.

Further, stating that the repatriation of the Brus doesn’t seem to be completed shortly, the conditions of the camps must be improved with inmates being provided proper healthcare and opportunity for education.

However, he added that this is merely a temporary solution and the permanent solution is only repatriation back to Mizoram with adequate land, compensation and proper security.

The General Secretary briefed“We have demanded setting up of cluster of villages for our repatriation. There should be at least grouping of 500 families in a cluster with all modern amenities for education, health care and livelihood. We have also demanded security from the onslaught of the Mizos, by central paramilitary forces”.

On the other hand, Tripura’s relief and revenue department secretary Swapan Saha , in an interaction with the IANS told them that the central team, which comprises of officials of the human resource development ministry, social justice and empowerment ministry, Tripura government and representatives of three NGOs from New Delhi, West Bengal and Assam, will be submitting its report to the Union Home Ministry and the Tripura High Court by Sep 12.

It is only necessary to mention here that the Central Team which he was referring to was constituted following a directive from the Tripura High Court, which passed an order June 24 after a lawyer filed a petition on the alleged miserable conditions of the refugees and the camps they are living in. Saha further added “The central team would oversee the sanitation, health, educational and other facilities there”.

Also, Tripura Governor Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya had visited the camps and tried to assure the inmates that the Centre would take necessary steps and would soon resolve all the problems. Meanwhile, Refugee leader and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) general secretary Bruno Mesha submitted a memorandum to the governor.

The memorandum contains 10 demands which included providing all facilities to the refugees like Kashmiri Pandits and Tamil refugees, allotment of lands to all the repatriated tribals, creation of model villages in Reang tribals’ inhabited areas, ensure better security and sanitation, health and education to the tribals in Mizoram.

35,000 refugees have been sheltering in the Tripura relief camps for more than seventeen years since their ethnic clashes in Mizoram. Although repatriation process has been carried out in different phases but only about 5,000 Reang tribal refugees have returned to their homes in the past three-and-a-half years. The Brus have urged the government to meet all their demands and only then they would return to Mizoram.