AIZAWL, September 26, 2018: Displaced Bru refugees have clarified that they will not go back to Mizoram unless the Centre fulfills their charter of demands.
Over 40,000 Brus had fled Mizoram during their ethnic riots with Mizos in 1997. Over the past few years, a few thousand of them returned to Mizoram on their own.
Tuesday was the last day for the repatriation of over 32,000 Bru refugees but only 24 families went back to Mizoram so far as part of the repatriation process. The Centre had earlier warned of suspending free ration and other facilities to them.
In July, the Brus had signed an agreement on their repatriation with the Centre besides Tripura and Mizoram governments. As per the pact, the refugees were to be repatriated by September 25.
"We have seven-point demands and unless they are fulfilled, we are not going to vacate the relief camps," Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples' Coordination Committee (MBDPCC) leader Laldingliana Reang told TNIE on Tuesday.
The demands are the creation of an area development council for the Brus in Mizoram, allocation of five hectares of land to each refugee family, their settlement in cluster villages with each housing at least 500 families, Rs.4 lakh compensation to each family before repatriation, revision of electoral rolls, identification of 1,000 left out families and general amnesty to the refugees.
"We have submitted our demands to the Union Home Ministry. It has not yet responded. We are waiting for negotiation. We asked the Central government to keep giving us ration till we are repatriated. If the demands are fulfilled today, we are ready to leave for Mizoram tomorrow. If not, we will not go. And if the supply of free ration is suspended, we will go on the warpath. We will launch a movement by staging democratic protests," Laldingliana warned.
He said the ration, which they were getting, was meagre.
"It is free ration in name's sake. Per adult is given a financial assistance of Rs.5 a day; it is Rs.2.5 for minors. Similarly, an adult refugee is given 600 grams of rice per day; it is 300 grams for minors. Also, a refugee, irrespective of age, gets seven grams of salt a day. They also get a pair of slipper once in three years. The males get a shirt and the females get a skirt annually. For 20 years, we have been going through difficult times. We sell firewood etc to eke out a living," he added.