Chidambaram meets Tripura chief minister, discusses refugee repatriation


Agartala/New Delhi: Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram met Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar in New Delhi Saturday and discussed ways to resolve the 12-year-old deadlock on the repatriation of 35,000 Reang refugees to Mizoram following the recent ethnic violence in the northeastern state, officials said.

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“Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram held an urgent meeting with Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and talked about the possible steps to be taken to solve the stalemate over the repatriation of tribal refugees from Tripura to Mizoram,” a senior official told newspersons in Agartala.

The official said: “During the meeting, the Tripura chief minister explained the socio-economic problems facing the state over the long stay of the tribal refugees and the recent exodus of tribals from Mizoram following the ethnic skirmishes.”

Meanwhile, a New Delhi-based rights body — Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) — urged the central government to order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the killing of a Mizo youth last week and the subsequent ethnic violence in Mizoram.

Over 35,000 Reang tribal refugees have been living in six north Tripura camps since 1997 after they fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos.

The tribal refugees’ repatriation from Tripura to Mizoram has turned complicated with violent mobs in western Mizoram burning down around 500 houses of Reang tribals following the gunning down of a Mizo youth last week.

The central and Tripura governments have asked Mizoram to resolve the long-standing deadlock on the repatriation of Reang refugees to the state, the Tripura chief minister had told reporters in Agartala before leaving for New Delhi Friday.

The Reang tribal refugees, locally called Bru, have also sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to solve the 12-year-old ethnic crisis in Mizoram, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Following the arson and ethnic trouble, around 5,000 displaced Reang tribals have taken shelter in adjacent southern Assam and northern Tripura. Most of the displaced men, women and children are still living either in the jungle or under the open sky.

The tribal refugees Thursday, in a letter to the prime minister, demanded his urgent intervention to resolve the stalemate over their repatriation and recent ethnic troubles.

The Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), an organisation of the Reang tribal refugees, has also demanded immediate deployment of central paramilitary forces in the Reang tribal dominated districts — Mamit and Kolashib in western Mizoram.

Meanwhile, opposition Tripura Congress leader Ratan Lal Nath spoke with Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla Friday and requested him to take steps to repatriate the Reang tribals.

Leaders of three Mizoram-based Reang tribal organisations Friday visited the affected villages in Mamit and Kolashib districts along the Tripura-Mizoram border and urged both the communities to maintain peace.

Suhas Chakma, director of ACHR, said: “Prima facie evidence does exist to establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the Mizoram government and some Mizo NGOs were behind the premeditated attacks to stall the process of repatriation of refugees. The authorities have remained silent. Therefore a CBI inquiry is indispensable.”

A tripartite meeting held in Aizawl Nov 4 between representatives of the central and Mizoram governments and tribal refugees failed to resolve the 12-year deadlock to repatriate 35,000 Reang migrants from Tripura to Mizoram.