Will need 6 months to resettle Bru refugees in Tripura: CM

Agartala, Jan 17 (PTI): A day after the signing of an agreement that puts an end to the Bru refugee crisis, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Friday said it will take at least six months to resettle the 34,000 odd members of the community who are living here for 23 years.
The Bru people have been living in relief camps in Tripura since 1997. They had fled their homeland Mizoram to reach the neighbouring state because of ethnic clashes.
Following an agreement signed by representatives of the Brus, the central, Tripura and Mizoram governments in New Delhi on Thursday, these tribal people will be able to permanently settle in Tripura.
“According to the agreement, those willing to go back to Mizoram can go and the rest can stay in Tripura. They have to stay in either of the states. He said a large quantum of land would be required to rehabilitate these 34,000 people and it would take at least six months,” Deb told reporters here.
He said the revenue department was asked to identify the land for their resettlement.
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for solving the 23-year-old problem, he said many initiatives were taken to send the Brus back to Mizoram, but only 350 families could be repatriated.
The Brus are staying in six camps at Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions of North Tripura district. They get free ration and a cash dole from the Centre.
Despite efforts to repatriate them, many Bru families have refused to return to Mizoram citing security concerns and inadequate rehabilitation package. There has also been a demand for a separate autonomous council for the community.
The agreement was signed one-and-a-half months after the latest initiative to send the Bru refugees back to Mizoram failed. The ninth round of repatriation began on October 3 and concluded on November 30.
The vexed Bru issue started from September, 1997, following demands of a separate autonomous district council by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura.
The situation was aggravated by the murder of a forest guard in the Dampa Tiger Reserve in western Mizoram by Bru National Liberation Front insurgents on October 21 that year.
The first attempt to repatriate the Brus from Tripura was made in November 2009.