16th of January, 2020 will be remembered as a historic day when a 23 year old refugee crisis of Northeast India was solved, with the signing of a quadripartite agreement between the Bru community, state governments of Mizoram and Tripura, and the Government of India. The agreement will facilitate the settlement of the displaced Bru community in Tripura, after a long struggle against forced repatriation of them back to Mizoram.
The Bru community was forced to leave their homeland Mizoram in 1997, as the tensions between the dominant Mizo community and the Bru tribal’s reached its peak. The Bru refugee crisis dates back to the year 1995, when their peaceful existence came under threat as the Mizos, the majority community in the state of Mizoram, demanded that the Brus be stripped of their voting rights, arguing that they were ‘not native’ to Mizoram. Two years later, a Mizo forest guard was shot dead by unidentified assailants. Blaming it squarely on the Bru community, the violent backlash from their side forced the Brus to leave their homes and take shelter in Tripura, where they have been living in pitiable conditions since 1997.
Around 35000 Bru-Reang tribals have been living in refugee camps set up in Northern Tripura. The Bru refugees living in makeshift camps had been protesting and resisting the conceived repatriation initiative. They feared that that once they are repatriated, they would be subjected to the same subjugation by the Mizos. In November last year, the protests by the community intensified, even as multiple deaths, including those of several children were reported from the makeshift camps. The agreement signed yesterday gives a new life to the community.
According to the agreement, the Bru’s would not be repatriated to Mizoram, and would instead be legally allowed to settle in Tripura. One cannot help but thank the Chief Minister of Tripura, Biplab Deb for agreeing to allow their settlement in the state he governs. Further, a financial aid package of Rs. 600 crore has been made available for the community, according to which each family would benefit in the following manner:
A fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakh will be made available to each family as government aid. They will be able to withdraw this amount after two years.
Each of the displaced families will be given 40×30 sq. ft. residential plots.
Apart from these, each family will be given Rs. 5,000 cash per month for two years, as interest against the fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakh.
The agreement highlights that each displaced family will also be given free ration for two years and aid of Rs. 1.5 lakh to build their houses.
Not only has the Modi government ensured that the Bru community is settled in Tripura, but it has also taken sufficient steps to ensure that their standard of living is uplifted as soon as possible. While the entire nation was caught in the drama surrounding protests against CAA which then rang their culminating bells with the JNU violence, the Home Ministry, headed by Amit Shah was resolving a key dispute which had affected close to 35000 people.
While no other governments in the past has even cared to resolve the dispute and help the Brus lead normal lives freely, the Modi-Shah combine has resolved a rather unnoticed refugee crisis in a matter of months. For all the hullaballoo of PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah being anti-minority, the two have solved a crisis of a minority community which Indians were never aware of. This agreement will serve as a final nail in the coffins of those trying to project the BJP as anti-minority and anti-Northeast.