About 30,000 remaining Bru IDPs agree to return,
Home Ministry assures further assistance to the returnees

New Delhi:  About 30,000 remaining Bru displaced persons sheltered in Tripura have agreed to return to their homes in Mizoram following new assurance of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (http://www.achrweb.org/press/2011/MHA-BRUs-01-11.pdf) through the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) to support project to be implemented by Bru organizations for sustainable development of the returnees. The repatriation which resumed on 3 November 2010 had to be suspended following division among the Bru leaders and blockade against repatriation imposed by the Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF).

On 29th December 2010, the pro and anti-repatriation factions of the displaced Brus reached an agreement at Kanchanpur, Tripura through mediation of Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR, who has been acting as an interlocutor between the Brus and the Ministry of Home Affairs. The MBPDF consented to the Kanchanpur Agreement “to fully support and facilitate the repatriation process” on 4th January 2011 and the Kanchanpur Agreement (http://www.achrweb.org/press/2011/kanchanpur_agreement.pdf) was immediately submitted to the MHA on 4th January 2011. In the Kanchanpur talks, while MBDPF was represented by A Sawibunga, Bruno Msha and Laldawngliana, the Bru Coordination Committee was represented by Mr Surjyamoni Reang, former President Bru National Liberation Front, Mr Elvis Chorkhy, former President of MBDPF and Mr Bruto Meska, former Commander-in-Chief of the BNLF.

In a letter dated 5 January 2011, Mr R R Jha, Joint Secretary (North East) of the Ministry of Home Affairs informed Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR that apart from Rs 80,000 cash assistance to each Bru family and one year free ration, “In case Bru Coordination Committee and Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum propose to set up a mechanism for assisting the Govt. of Mizoram in preparation of schemes for self-employment of Brus in Mizoram, Ministry of Home Affairs would support such initiative. A Special Development Project for Western Belt of Mizoram where Brus are to be resettled is also under consideration of State Government of Mizoram and Ministry of Development of North-East Region”.

“The commitment of the Bru leaders in the repatriation process is welcomed as the alacrity in which the MHA has responded with full cooperation of the Mizoram government whose Chief Secretary was in Delhi on 5th January 2010 to discuss resumption of the repatriation. All the stakeholders i.e. the Brus, the State government of Mizoram and the Government of India remain committed and I do not see any further obstacles in the near future” - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

"If repatriation of all the Brus is completed, this would constitute the largest repatriation of displaced persons in the world facilitated by a non-governmental organisation", further stated Mr Chakma.

The repatriation of the displaced Brus started on 21 May 2010 after a gap of 13 years following the written assurances (http://www.achrweb.org/press/2010/MHA-BRUs-0410.pdf)  given by the Ministry of Home Affairs for rehabilitation and resettlement to the Brus on 20 April 2010 through ACHR. The assurances for rehabilitation and resettlement were given based on the demands placed by the Bru Coordination Committee in a memorandum submitted to the Home Ministry through Mr Chakma on 15 February 2010 (http://www.achrweb.org/countries/india/mizoram/BCC-Demands.pdf).

The repatriation of the Brus suspended during the monsoon. It resumed on 3 November 2010. However, further repatriation was stalled following the protests including blockade imposed by the Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum which demanded, among others, a written agreement for the repatriation and resettlement.  The repatriation remained suspended.

On 29 December 2010, a dialogue was held between the pro and anti-repatriation factions of the displaced Brus under the mediation of Mr Chakma was held at Kanchanpur, North Tripura. The Agreement laid down specific conditions including financial support for a special project for sustainable development of the returnee Bru IDPs.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights agreed to provide technical assistance for development of the sustainable development project. [Ends]

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