The Mizoram government on Tuesday began hearing the claims and objections of 260 members of the displaced Bru tribe who have excluded from the list of the state’s bonafide citizens during an identification process in July. The hearing will be conducted by officials from three districts over the next one week, reported PTI.

“A total of 350 names were excluded from the list, but 90 names were cleared after a scrutiny in Aizawl,” said state Home Secretary Lalbiakzama. “The final list will be prepared after a thorough verification of the claims.” Altogether, 26,128 Brus, lodged in six relief camps of neighbouring Tripura, have made it to the list, said Lalbiakzama.

In the previous head count conducted in November, 32,876 Brus belonging to 5,407 families were found in the relief camps in Tripura. In July 2018, the Mizoram and Tripura governments, the Centre and the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum agreed that the 5,407 families would be repatriated to Mizoram before September 30, 2018. Of these, only 33 families returned to Mizoram in 2018. The next phase of repatriation is likely to be held in October, the home secretary said.

According to the agreement, the central government will provide financial assistance for rehabilitation of Brus in Mizoram and address issues of security, education and livelihood in consultation with the state governments. Each family will be given Rs 4 lakh as one-time financial assistance, Rs 5,000 cash assistance per month for two years, Rs 1.5 lakh to build a house and free ration for two years.

Exile and return

In 1997, the murder of a Mizo forest guard in the Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram’s Mamit district allegedly by Bru militants led to a violent backlash against the community, forcing several thousand people to flee to neighbouring Tripura. The Bru militancy was a reactionary movement against Mizo nationalist groups who had demanded in the mid-1990s that the Brus be left out of the state’s electoral rolls, contending that the tribe was not indigenous to Mizoram.

The displaced Brus took refuge in a town called Kanchanpur in northern Tripura, on the border with Mizoram. Now, they are spread across seven refugee camps in the Jampui Hills, which separate Tripura from Mizoram and Bangladesh.

There was another exodus 12 years later. In November 2009, Bru militants reportedly killed a Mizo teenager, triggering another spate of retaliatory attacks on the Brus who had stayed behind, forcing many more into Tripura.

There have been multiple attempts to facilitate the return of the Brus – who are also known as Reangs – to Mizoram over the years, but the Indian government and the community’s leaders have often not been able to agree on the terms of their repatriation.

Also read:

‘There’s nothing to go back to’: Bru refugees in Tripura would rather starve than return to Mizoram

Will the Brus of Mizoram ever get to return to their homeland after 20 years of exile in Tripura?

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