Agartala, Aug 28 : Displaced Reang tribals, sheltered in six refugee camps in Tripura for about 17 years, on Wednesday urged a central government team to solve the ethnic problems permanently.
About 35,000 Reang tribals are staying in six camps in northern Tripura since October 1997 after they fled their villages in western Mizoram following ethnic troubles after the killing of a Mizo forest official.
“We have submitted a memorandum to the central government team to solve our 10 point demands, including permanent solution to the ethnic problems,” Refugee leader and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) general secretary Bruno Mesha told IANS by phone from Kanchanpur, 190km north of here.
The refugees’ demands include, economic rehabilitation to the repatriated refugees, adequate security, allotment of lands, employment, free ration for two years, and financial assistance of Rs. 150,000 per family.
The MBDPF leaders also requested the central government team pending their repatriation to Mizoram enhance their relief stuff including rice and improve their living conditions in the makeshift camps.
“Following an order of the Tripura High Court, the union home ministry has recently constituted a seven-member committee headed by Rajiv Gauba, the ministry’s additional secretary, to oversee the condition of the refugees in the Tripura camps,” Tripura’s relief and revenue department secretary Swapan Saha told IANS.
“The central team visited the refugee camps Tuesday. The committee would submit its report to the Tripura High Court Thursday or Friday,” Saha said.
He said the report of the central government team would refer four issues — sanitation and drinking water, health, educational and overall situation of the refugee camps, situated adjoining western Mizoram.
Tripura and Mizoram share a 109-km border.
The Tripura High Court passed its order June 24 following a petition filed by a lawyer.
The court asked the central government to constitute the central team, which also comprises officials of the human resource development ministry, social justice and empowerment ministry, Tripura government and representatives of three NGOs from New Delhi, West Bengal and Assam.
Right activist and lawyer Mangal Debbarma, in his petition earlier, alleged that miserable conditions of the refugees and the camps they are living in.
The refugees also demanded to provide all facilities and status to them like that of Kashmiri Pandits and Tamil refugees, allotment of lands to all the repatriated tribals, creation of model villages in Reang tribals’ inhabited areas, ensure better security and sanitation, health and education to the tribals in Mizoram.
The Mizoram government recently asked the union home ministry to take up with the Election Commission the issue of deleting from the electoral lists the names of those refugees, who are unwilling to leave Tripura camps and return to Mizoram.
“Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla earlier this month held a meeting with Home Secretary Anil Goswami in New Delhi and requested him to take action over deleting the names of those refugees who are not willing to return to Mizoram,” an official of the Mizoram government told IANS in Aizawl.
“Lal Thanhawla apprised Goswami that while the state government has done its best to take back the refugees from Tripura camps, the state government’s efforts have often been opposed by a section of refugee leaders,” the official said.
The Tripura government has been repeatedly asking the central government to take steps to repatriate the 35,000 tribal refugees to Mizoram. Only about 5,000 Reang tribal refugees have returned to their homes in the past three-and-a-half years.