Bru leader Bruno Msha, meanwhile, said they do not oppose the plans entirely, but they remain worried over the security and availability of residential as well as farm land for the 35,000-odd Bru tribals who remain in the camps once they return home to Mizoram.
The Bru leaders reiterated to the government’s demands that the Brus be rehabilitated in grouped villages with central forces stationed nearby.
The Mizoram government’s representatives led by Additional Secretary for Home Lalbiakzama and Mamit district Deputy Commissioner Vanlalngaihsaka as well as officials from Tripura met with the Bru leaders in Kanchanpur, North Tripura.
The officials told the 20-odd Bru leaders who attended the meeting of the plans approved recently by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The MHA, Mizoram and Tripura had in a meeting on January 30 agreed that attempts would be made to repatriate the displaced Brus to Mizoram within six months, and all who refuse to return home within this time would be struck off Mizoram’s electoral rolls and further aid to them will be stopped.
Members of the Bru tribe had fled Mizoram en-masse in 1997 following ethnic violence between them and the majority Mizos. That violence had been sparked off by the killing of a Mizo official by a Bru militant group demanding more autonomy for the tribe.
Another round of violence was sparked off by the killing of a Mizo youth by a little known Bru militant outfit in 2009, a murder the Mizoram government says was part of a conspiracy to derail a planned repatriation process which many Bru leaders opposed.
The repatriation process however commenced in 2010, and as many as 1,700 Bru families made up of almost 9,000 people have since returned home to Mizoram (among them was the family of Elvis Chorkhy, who was a prominent Bru leader in the relief camp. His return to Mizoram has since led to a split in the Bru leadership).
But tens of thousands more remain in the squalid relief camps where they live on government hand-outs.
Bru leaders in the camps have always opposed the repatriation process, saying the rehabilitation package is too less and that their tribesmen who return should be grouped into large villages and given a certain amount of agricultural land as well as security.
Besides alleging that some among the 1,700 families made up of almost 9000 people have found it difficult to find proper places to build houses as well as farmland, they have also complained that the Tripura government has made life difficult in the camps as it is eager to see them return home to Mizoram.
The Mizoram government has steadfastly maintained that a single, large piece of land such as that the Bru leaders are demanding is simply not available but that residential as well as farmland is being provided to them, and that other demands such as enhancement of the rehabilitation package is up to the Centre.