MHA firm on one-month window for repatriation of Bru refugees

GUWAHATI: Firm on going through with the repatriation of Bru refugees from to , the Centre has ordered that the one-month window – September 1 to 30 – is final. Those staying in refugee camps beyond that time will stop receiving government support.
Nearly 33,000 Bru refugees living in six relief camps across Tripura will be resettled in Mizoram, their home state, under an agreement signed by the Centre, the state governments of Tripura and Mizoram, and the representative body of the refugees, the Mizoram Bru Displaced People‘s Forum (MBDPF) last month.

A high-level home ministry team – special secretary (internal security) Rina , joint secretary (northeast) Satyendra Garg and adviser Mahesh Kumar Singla – held a meeting with the representatives of the signatories to the agreement on Friday evening at Dhamcherra in North Tripura.

MBDPF said the home ministry officials made it clear that the refugee camps in Tripura will be closed after the one-month repatriation window is over. The rehabilitation package includes cash assistance of Rs 5,000 per month per family for two years, housing assistance of Rs 1,50,000 for each family, free ration for two years, utensils and blankets worth Rs 3,500 for each family.

“At the meeting, the home ministry officials told us that the supply of ration and all financial support will stop from the first week of October. Anyone who chooses to not go back to Mizoram will be on their own after September 30,” Bruno Msha, general secretary of MBDPF, told TOI on Saturday.

The assertion came in the backdrop of sections of Bru refugees, under different banners, seeking a new deal for resettlement. “While the officials said they can modify parts of the agreement, they were firm that it cannot be changed. So, the Centre has agreed to pay 80% of the financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh for each family before it is repatriated. The remaining 20% will be deposited in fixed deposits, which they can withdraw upon maturity,” Msha said.

The Mizoram government had offered to start the repatriation process by August 14. The Centre, however, rejected the plan, citing some formalities that were yet to be completed by the Tripura government. The team also reiterated that the Election Commission will start updating the Mizoram voters‘ list to include eligible Bru voters.

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