Mizoram Bru refugee repatriation from Tripura begins

      The first batch of Bru (Reang) refugees of Mizoram have commenced their return back after spending almost a year in North Tripura. "About 154 families from Naisingpara and Ashapara will start moving to Mizoram. This is the first day of repatriation of the new displace persons who have been sidplayed after November 2009. They had fled after the incident that took place at Bungthuan village on 13 November (2009). Today all the vehicles have come", said refugee leader Elvis Chorkhy. On the Union Home Ministry's advice, another 105 families will be repatriated to Mizoram, he added. However, the fate of more than 30,000 refugees who fled Mizoram 13 years ago hangs in the balance. Mizoram Government officials along with their Tripura counterparts are supervising the repatriation from Tripura relief camps to Mamit district in western Mizoram. "On 13 November (2009) from Bungthuan village all the villagers took shelter here after a communal violence flared up in Mizoram. Now, the Mizoram Government has assured us the security for repatriation and we were to go on 21 May but could not. Now we are going but another more than 31,000 who shall be left behind will be repatriated gradually and the Mizoram government has assured this", Bonkhuma, a Bru, who left for Mizoram. Around 1,000 tribal refugees would be repatriated in five batches till May 26. Chorkhy, who is also president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF), added that they shall observe the repatriation and subsequent resettlement of the tribal refugees in their villages and then shall decide the repatriation of the remaining evacuees. Since 1997, around 32,000 Reang tribal refugees have taken shelter in six camps in north Tripura, adjacent to Mizoram. They fled western Mizoram after ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos over the killing of a Mizo forest official. The refugees' repatriation from Tripura to Mizoram was stopped in November last year when a mob in western Mizoram burnt down around 700 tribal houses after an 18-year-old Mizo youth was shot dead by unidentified miscreants. Following the arson and violence, about 5,500 displaced Reang tribals took shelter afresh in adjacent north Tripura.

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