How Solving 23-Year-Long Bru Refugee Crisis Is Shot In The Arm For BJP

The agreement is likely to help the BJP win the trust of tribals in the northeast at a time when the party is facing sustained protests against the controversial citizenship law.

The Bru tribals have been living in relief camps in Tripura for over two decades.

An agreement signed by representatives of Bru, the central, Tripura and Mizoram governments paved way for over 30,000 displaced Bru tribals from Mizoram to permanently settle in Tripura. The deal was signed on Thursday in presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah at North Block in New Delhi.

"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," said Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb.

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.

Political parties and civil society organisations of Mizoram have also welcomed the agreement that puts an end to the over two-decade-old Bru refugee crisis. The Bru tribals would now be included in Tripura's voter list as per the agreement.

The agreement -- which was materialised after nine attempts of repatriation -- is likely to help the BJP win the trust of tribals in the northeast at a time when the party is facing sustained protests against the controversial citizenship law.

The pact 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.

Amit Shah had tasked the work to Mr Sarma after centre's plan to close the relief efforts last year had led to protests among the Bru refugees. The protesting Bru refugees also saw support from former Tripura Congress Chief and Royal scion Pradyot Manikya who demanded their settlement in Tripura.

This is when, sources said, that Amit Shah, sensing the gravity of the situation, asked Mr Sarma to build consensus with representatives of Bru, the central, Tripura and Mizoram governments over the issue.

The Bru tribals 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.

The Bru refugee crisis 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.