Insights into Editorial: Brus to permanently settle in Tripura, pact signed
A quadripartite agreement in New Delhi, allowed some 35,000 Bru tribal people, who were displaced from Mizoram and are living in Tripura as refugees since 1997, to settle permanently in Tripura.
The Centre, State governments of Tripura and Mizoram, and representatives of Bru organisations signed the agreement in the presence of Union Home Minister.
The “solution” has evoked mixed reactions with rights activists fearing it could “legitimise” the ejection of minority communities by ethnocentric states.
Who are the Bru refugees?
- According to a report, the Brus, who are spread across Tripura, Mizoram and parts of southern Assam, are said to be the most populous tribe in Tripura.
- They are also known as the Reangs in Mizoram, as they are essentially ethnically different from the Mizos, and have their own distinct language and dialect and thus form one of the 21 scheduled tribes of Tripura.
- While in Tripura their numbers stand at approximately 32,000, spread across six refugee camps in the state, Mizoram has as many as 40,000 Brus living in the state.
- For their livelihood they pursue Hilltop Jhum Cultivation, several activities of food gathering including collection of jungle fruits, leaf, plants, fishing in stagnant water in hill slopes, hunting of wild animals and birds, etc.
- They are nomadic tribes. It is said that they are polytheists and believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses. They pray different deities like Mwtaikotorma, Tuibuma, Mailoma, Ganga etc.
- They also believe in spirits and existence of soul. We can say that by religion they are Hindus. Let us tell you that among Reangs followers of Vaishnavism are also found in good numbers.
- Like other Tripuri tribes of Tripura, the marriage system is similar. There is no dowry system. They are endogamous and don’t marry outside their community.
- The village council chief is “RAI” who permits Divorce and Widow Marriage. They cremate their dead bedside of the river or chara after observing series of rites and rituals and funeral procession.
About Refugee Camps:
Back in 1997, about 30,000 Bru-Reang tribals fled from Mizoram and took shelter in Tripura’s refugee camps.
These refugees were said to have fled from Mizoram due to ethnic tension. Before the agreement, these people were living in temporary shelters at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura.
The Indian Government has been making several efforts for permanent rehabilitation of the Bru-Reang crisis since 2010.
Two state governments, Tripura and Mizoram, were in a continuous process for settling them down through a permanent solution.
As per the information provided by Prime Minister Modi’s official website, 1622 Bru-Reang refugee families were returned to the Mizoram.
In 2018, the Government had offered them to peacefully return to the Mizoram. However, only 328 families (1369 individuals) accepted the offer and went back to the Mizoram at the time.
What is Bru-Reang Refugee agreement?
To end the 23-year old Bru-Reang refugee crisis, an agreement is signed which is known as Bru-Reang agreement.
The Bru-Reang agreement is signed between the Government of India, Presided by the Home Minister for Home Affairs, Governments of Tripura and Mizoram and Bru-Reang representatives on 17 January, 2020.
According to Bru-Reang Refugee agreement:
- After the agreement about 34,000 Bru refugees will be settled in Tripura.
- Centre will provide help to these tribes for their all-round development and for this around Rs 600 crores were sanctioned.
- These tribes would get all the rights that normal residents of the State get and would be able to enjoy the benefits of social welfare schemes for Centre and State governments.
- According to the Home Minister, each displaced family would be given 40X30 sq.ft. residential plots.
- For 2 years, they will be given the aid of Rs 5000 per month.
- Free ration for 2 years
- About Rs 1.5 lakh aid to build their house.
Under this agreement, the Tripura Government would provide the land. Let us tell you that the settlement has been reached after a detailed discussion held by the Union Government with the State Governments of Tripura and Mizoram and also with the representatives of Bru tribes.
The decision can be considered as humanitarian from the point of view of the Brus, who were apprehensive about returning to Mizoram, but it could lead to conflicts with the locals of Tripura.
It could set a bad precedent, encouraging ethnocentric states to eject minorities of all hues.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the agreement to permanently settle Bru-Reang refugees in Tripura, saying it will “greatly help” them.
The Bru-Reang refugees will benefit from numerous development schemes in the state. Seeking to put an end to the 23-year-old Bru-Reang refugee crisis, a quadripartite agreement was signed among the Centre, state governments of Tripura and Mizoram and Bru-Reang representatives to facilitate permanent settlement of Bru refugees in Tripura.
The displaced Brus, who returned to Mizoram have already begun demanding a package equivalent to one, those who stayed behind in the Tripura relief camps would be getting.