2500 out of 32 000 Bru refugees willing to return to Mizoram

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AIZAWL, Aug 19 (Newmai): 2500 Bru refugees out of 32,857 of them lodging at six relief camps in Tripura have expressed their willingness to return to Mizoram after identification conducted by Mizoram officials, Mizoram State Home department officials said.

The officials who conducted identification at six relief camps have returned to Mizoram on Saturday as no refugees, except in one relief camp, expressed their willingness to return to Mizoram, officials said.

During August 16 and 17, Mizoram officials have conducted identification of those Bru families, who were willing to return and those who were not. They also conducted re- identification of Bru families who were not covered during identification work in 2016.

At least 2,560 people from 394 families at Kaskau camp have expressed their willingness to return to Mizoram during a two-day identification process, an official statement said on Sunday.

Of the identified 2,560 Bru tribals, 2366 people including 697 children comprising 367 families will return to Mamit district, while 194 people including 36 children from 27 families will return to Kolasib district, the statement added.

No family from five relief camps including  Naisingpara, the largest relief camp which housed more than 2900 families,  has expressed their willingness to return to Mizoram during the identification process, The Home department officials also said.

The official statement said that at least 17 families from Hamsapara camp, who were not included in 2016 were re-identified and 5 families from Khakchangpara and one family from Naisingpara were also re-identified to be genuine residents of Mizoram.

Sources said that the officials who conducted identification at six relief camps also met with leaders of Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), an apex body of displaced Bru families in Tripura, who told the officials that they have appealed to the Bru families to be identified themselves for return.

Repatriation of the last batch of Bru refugees comprising 32,857 people was scheduled to commence from August 25 and completed by September 28.

Officials of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) during their meeting with officials of Mizoram and Tripura governments and leaders of MBDPF on August 10 had said that all relief camps will be closed down after September 25.

Meanwhile, sources said that the Union Home Ministry has agreed to relax conditions laid down in the ‘four-corner agreement’ signed on July 3.

It has agreed to relax the period of stay for cash assistance of Rs 4 lakh from three to two or even one and half years and also the refugees may also be allowed to withdraw 90 per cent of the cash assistance as bank loan immediately after their return to Mizoram.

As regard to housing assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh, which was initially said to be disbursed in three installments, the Centre allowed it to be disbursed in a single installment or two.

The Home Ministry also said that at least 50 Bru families will be allowed to settle in each village, sources said.

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