Mizoram to take back 2,000 refugees from Tripura


Aizawl/Agartala: On the union home ministry’s advice, Mizoram has decided to take back 2,000 tribal refugees from six relief camps in Tripura where they have been living for the past 13 years, officials said Saturday.

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“Before May 15 we will take back 462 tribal refugee families comprising 2,000 men, women and children. The union home ministry has asked the state government to repatriate the refugees from their camps in Tripura,” a Mizoram government official told reporters in Aizawl.

“We have not decided yet about the repatriation of the remaining refugees,” the official added.

Over 37,000 Reang tribal refugees have taken shelter in six camps in north Tripura, adjacent to Mizoram, since 1997 when they fled western Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos over the killing of a forest official.

The Tripura government and the union home ministry have been asking the Mizoram government to take back the refugees. The union home ministry, through the Tripura government, has so far spent around Rs.1.74 billion on their upkeep.

The Mizoram government official said: “Mizoram Home Secretary Lalmalsawma and senior officials held a meeting with the Mamit district deputy commissioner and other civil and police officials to finalise the repatriation schedule and the refugees’ subsequent rehabilitation.”

“A tripartite meeting between the officials of union home ministry, Mizoram government and refugee leaders would be held at Mamit district headquarters May 6 to give a final touch to the much expected repatriation plan,” the official added.

A series of inconclusive meetings in New Delhi and Aizawl were held to resolve the repatriation issue that has been hanging fire for 13 years following differences between the migrants and the Mizoram government over the rehabilitation package.

The Reang tribal refugees, locally called Bru, are unwilling to return to their homes in Mizoram until their demands for adequate security and sufficient financial assistance for rehabilitation are accepted by the Mizoram government.

Last November, a mob in western Mizoram burnt down around 700 houses of Reang tribals in following the gunning down of an 18-year-old Mizo youth by unidentified miscreants.