The latest initiative to send Bru refugees living in relief camps in north Tripura back to Mizoram failed, as only 171 families of the targeted 4,447 returned to their homeland, officials said on Saturday when the repatriation came to an end.
The fate of around 32,000 inmates remaining in the camps now hangs in balance. The officials said free ration was distributed to the inmates of the camps at Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions for the last time on Saturday as, according to government instructions, it would be stopped from Sunday.
Altogether 4,447 displaced Bru families were scheduled to return to neighbouring Mizoram from where they started fleeing since 1997 following ethnic clashes.
However, only around 844 members of 171 families moved back to Mizoram till November 22 during the exercise, the officials said, adding that the figure is being updated.
"This ninth round of repatriation began on October 3 and ended today. It has been considered the last round. But like the previous rounds, this one too failed to take the displaced people back to Mizoram," an official said.
"Gloom has descended in the camps following the government's announcement that no ration would be supplied to the inmates from tomorrow," Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum general secretary Bruno Msha said.
"We have not received any information from the centre, or from the governments of Tripura or Mizoram about what would happen to us," he said.
He said they would hold meetings to find out the next course of action. "Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had written to the centre saying it could accommodate up to 500 families in the state if adequate funds were sanctioned for the cause. We have not received any official information on what had happened after that," Msha said.
He said the Bru refugees had also urged the centre to restart its subsistence allowances but there was no reply to the request so far.