"We are always ready to take back the refugees from Tripura and rehabilitate them in their villages. Those refugees, who have returned to their villages, were rehabilitated and are living peacefully and satisfactorily," Lal Thanhawla told reporters at Jampui in north Tripura Tuesday.
He said: "Some people are impeding the repatriation of refugees. Those refugees who have returned to their homes have got financial assistance under the central government package."
Lal Thanhawla, who came to Jampui, 215 km from here, to attend the silver jubilee function of the NGO, the Young Mizo Association as the chief guest, urged the refugees to return to their homes and lead a normal life.
Addressing the association function, he said that some inimical forces are trying to disturb peace and ethnic harmony in Mizoram. Over 36,000 tribal refugees, locally called 'Bru', have been living in seven makeshift camps in northern Tripura for the past 17 years after fleeing their villages in Mizoram following ethnic trouble with the majority Mizos. The trouble began after a Mizo forest official was killed.
Around 5,000 refugees returned to their homes and villages in the past three years following continued persuasion by Mizoram, Tripura and union home ministry officials.
However, the process got stalled after that. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has told both the prime minister and the union home minister that "continuous presence for over 17 years of refugees from Mizoram has been a matter of concern for Tripura".
The refugees have been insisting that without a formal agreement between the central government, the state governments of Mizoram and Tripura and the tribal leaders, their return to homes and subsequent rehabilitation will remain uncertain.