NEW DELHI :
On Thursday, displaced Bru tribals from Mizoram, living as refugees in Tripura since 1997, were allowed to permanently settle in Tripura. The agreement, allowing 30,000 Bru tribals to permanently settle in Tripura, took 20 years and nine attempts in the making, and was signed between the Centre, the state governments of Tripura and Mizoram, and Bru-Reang representatives in the national capital in the presence of union home minister Amit Shah.
The Brus--spread across Tripura, Mizoram and parts of southern Assam--are the most populous tribe in Tripura. Also known as Reangs in the state, they are ethnically different from the Mizos, with their own distinct language and dialect and form one of the 21 scheduled tribes of Tripura.
While Mizoram has as many as 40,000 Brus living in the state, in Tripura, their numbers stand at approximately 32,000, spread across six refugee camps in the state.
In 1997, roughly half the Bru population fled to Tripura, following violent clashes with the Mizo population, which led to the Brus’ demand for an Autonomous District Council (ADC), under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution, in western Mizoram, where they were the more dominant lot, outnumbering the ethnic Mizo population.
On 1 October, as the Centre’s ninth repatriation attempt began, the tribe’s food and cash supply was stopped – prompting the tribe to take to the streets. On 3 October, the union home ministry started a round of talks with the state governments of Mizoram and Tripura to legitimize the 30,000-odd refugees.
In November, Bru refugees blocked a stretch in North Tripura for 12 hours, demanding the Centre restore their food and cash benefits even as repatriation efforts continued.
On Thursday, the union home ministry finally inked the tripartite pact which now paves the way for these displaced Bru tribals from Mizoram to permanently settle in Tripura.