Bru repatriation from Mizoram to Tripura picking up speed

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Aizawl/Agartala, Dec.1 (ANI): The much-awaited repatriation of tribal refugees from six camps in North Tripura to Mizoram has begun.

Two hundred and sixty five refugees returned to their homes on two consecutive days last month.

Over 31,000 Reang tribals, locally called Bru, were displaced from Mizoram in 1997 following violence directed towards them, and now thirteen years late, Bru families, staying at Tripura's Ashapara and Naisingpara refugee camps, have been relocated at Kolalian village of Mamit district in Mizoram.

The governments in Tripura and Mizoram, and representatives of the Bru Displaced People's Forum are working jointly to ensure a smooth repatriation of these refugees.

"We the executive committee of MBDPF on the good side of the Government of India, the state governments of Tripura and Mizoram extend full cooperation to Center and the state governments in sending 53 families as token of our willingness to go to our homeland, said A. Shawibunga, the president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum.

The Tripura Government has been providing free transportation facilities up to the Tripura-Mizoram border so that Bru families return to their native place. The Government of Mizoram would reimburse the transport expenses," said D.K. Chakma, the sub-divisional magistrate of Kanchanpur.

During a visit to Aizawl in May this year, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had asked the Mizoram Government and tribal leaders to repatriate all Reang tribal refugees to their ancestral villages.

The Mizoram Government has said that it would provide Rs.80, 000 to each repatriated refugee family for house construction and farming assistance.

It will also provide free rations to the displaced tribals for a year, adequate security and financial assistance for the 'Jhum cultivation'.

Jhum or Jhoom cultivation is a local name for slash and burn agriculture practiced by tribal groups in the north-eastern states of India like Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, as also in several districts of Bangladesh like Khagrachari and Sylhet.

The system involves the clearing of a piece of land by setting fire or clear felling and using the area for growing crops of agricultural importance such as upland rice, vegetables or fruits.

After a few cycles, the land loses fertility and a new area is chosen.ost farmers make huts near their land for shelter. Jhum cultivation is most practiced on the slopes of hills in thickly forested landscapes.

The cultivators cut the treetops to allow sunlight to reach the land. They burn all the trees and grasses for clean and fresh soil; it is believed that this helps to fertilize the land, but can leave it vulnerable to erosion.

Later seeds and crops are planted. Plants on the slopes survive the rainy season floods.

Refugees returning home are happy and look forward to a better future.

"I am returning to my home along with my baby and I am very happy. My father is staying back at the camp. I am happy to return," said Shairati Reang.

Bru refugees are living in six evacuee camps in the Kanchapur sub-division of North Tripura bordering Mizoram.

It is expected that their early repatriation will help maintain peace and stability in the region. (ANI)

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