29 August 2014

Manipur Governor V K Duggal Resigns, 9th Gov To Go After NDA Came To Power

New Delhi, Aug 29 : Asked whether he was asked to quit, 69-year-old Duggal said "I have resigned on my own accord".

Vinod Kumar Duggal on Thursday night resigned as Manipur Governor becoming the ninth governor appointed by the UPA regime to quit since the NDA Government came to power in May this year.

Duggal, who holds additional charge of Mizoram as well, arrived in Delhi and called on President Pranab Mukherjee where he handed over the resignation.

“I have submitted my resignation to the President,” Duggal, a former Union Home Secretary, said.
Asked whether he was asked to quit, 69-year-old Duggal, who became the Governor of the Northeastern state on December 31 last, said “I have resigned on my own accord”.

Duggal, who served as Home Secretary from 2005 to 2007, is the second Governor to have put in his papers this week.

Earlier, Sheila Dikshit resigned as Governor of Kerala on August 26.

With this, Duggal, as IAS officer of 1968 batch, becomes the ninth Governor to have resigned since the Narendra Modi government came to power on May 26.

Five UPA-appointed Governors — M K Narayanan (West Bengal), Ashwani Kumar (Nagaland), B L Joshi (UP), B V Wanchoo (Goa) and Shekhar Dutt (Chhattisgarh), have already resigned after being nudged by the NDA government.

V Purushothaman, the Governor of Mizoram, had resigned after he was transferred to Nagaland in July this year while Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan tendered his resignation on August 24 after he was shifted to Mizoram.

After the new Government assumed office, two Governors including 87-year-old Kamla Beniwal, who had a running battle with Modi when he was Gujarat Chief Minister when she was governor of the western state, were sacked.

Lt Governor of Puducherry Virendra Kataria, a former Congress leader, was also sacked.

Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi has challenged Centre’s moves to ease him out of office, bringing the controversy over removal of UPA-appointed Governors under judicial lens.

Mizoram Grapples With Narcotic That Gives A Kick, Addiction it Can’t Cure

By Adam Halliday

In Myanmar, source of the narcotic, a seized consignment of methamphetamine is set on fire. ( Source: AP )
In Myanmar, source of the narcotic, a seized consignment of methamphetamine is set on fire.

Aizawl, Aug 29 : Raw material through state returns as methamphetamine from Myanmar.
The best quality of methamphetamine, a highly-addictive narcotic with no known medical treatment, has been trickling into India from Myanmar and caused panic in Mizoram, where large consignments are regularly being intercepted, the latest during the weekend of 20,000 pills worth Rs 70 lakh.

“We are facing an onslaught of a narcotic that is more harmful than any we have experienced so far… Methamphetamine is not to be taken lightly, and every family should prepare itself to counter it, every community-based organisation should make battling it a top priority,” the state’s excise and narcotics department (END) said in a public appeal issued last month. Local newspapers frequently carry opinion articles about the narcotic while the Young Mizo Association and church organisations have regularly held awareness campaigns.

The narcotic is not really new to Mizoram. The first seizures were made in the first two years of the last decade, with over 1,600 pills apprehended. For the next 10 years, however, meth disappeared from law-enforcement agencies’ radar. Since 2011, Mizoram has seen huge seizures of pseudoephedrine, a legal drug prescribed for colds and allergies, but which can be processed into methamphetamine. Close to 100 pseudoephedrine traffickers have been arrested and roughly 20 million tablets intercepted in three years by police, END officers, customs and even community-based organisations, but officials estimate just 10 to 20 per cent of all the consignments passing through Mizoram have been detected.

Most of it came from pharmaceutical companies in north and west India. Taken out of their strips and transported in gunny bags and polythene bags, they were being sent to Myanmar where, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime says, these apparently harmless drugs are processed into methamphetamine by cartels and ethnic armies that, until a few years ago, supplied the drug to the “Golden Triangle” of Southeast Asia and used the money to buy arms.

These drugs have recently begun returning west, and India’s eastern borders and Bangladesh seem the main corridor. In the last two years in Mizoram, police and END have seized more than 2.5 lakh methamphetamine tablets and arrested 20 traffickers, half of whom are Myanmar nationals, while a police inspector has been suspended and an inquiry instituted against him.

The pseudoephedrine racket, meanwhile, has also brought in the names of a former health minister, political leaders, government officials, and some police and law enforcement officials, with consignments found in parcels sent through India Post, trucks, cars and even suitcases of students flying home from Delhi and other metros.

High and low
Methamphetamine pills come in bright red, pink, green and orange coatings and are invariably stamped with the insignias of cartels in Myanmar. These include “WY” (a brand the UNODC considers the “most popular, of highest quality and the most expensive” meth pills from Myanmar), “88” and “R”.

A teenage user says he has been hooked to meth for a year-and-a-half; he was introduced to it at a Valentine’s Day party. “The high… I danced the entire night, then I went to another party and danced and danced,” he said. “There was a feeling of confidence, and my sexual appetite has increased but I have also developed a dysfunction, so that does not make any sense.”

He came in touch with dealers and now buys pills almost weekly. He has also tried methamphetamine “chewing gum”, tablets he inserts into the anus and a powdered form that he injects into his veins.
Each pill costs him Rs 250. He admits to stealing from his father’s debit card. He used to be a good student but is now struggling to finish XII. He has trouble sleeping — “just two to four hours, if at all”— and complains of severe body pains and restlessness, conditions that have forced him to seek treatment at a daytime drug addiction cessation unit for opiate addicts.

“Sometimes I keep chewing my pillow because the pain is difficult to bear,” he said. He has been prescribed a strip of 100 mg painkillers and seven sleeping tablets a day.

Treatment challenge
Dr Lalchhanhima Ralte admits treating a methamphetamine addict is a new challenge, one he and colleagues are ill-prepared for. Synod Hospital, where he works, has been treating drug addicts for decades through a specialised division that has also caught the attention of the UNODC, which plans to set up India’s first methamphetamine treatment centre there.

“There is no treatment for methamphetamine addiction. At most, we prescribe antidepressants. There is no substitute like in the case of opiates,” Dr Ralte admits.

There is no properly compiled data to ascertain how many methamphetamine addicts live in Mizoram. “They are all definitely younger than 25. Their symptoms are all the same, but there is little we can do. The problem is that these few who have come are just those who have already tried methamphetamine long enough to want to quit it. We have no idea how many are hooked to it but have not thought about quitting,” said Lalrinawma Chhakchhuak, project manager at the cessation units.

Estimates put the number of opiate and pharmaceutical drug abusers in Mizoram at about 20,000 while END records show that since 1984 at least 1,240 people have died due to overdose, mostly of opiates such as heroin.

“When heroin began to be detected in Mizoram in the early 1980s, everyone said it’s a western drug and for developed countries. That was proved completely wrong,” said Chhakchhuak. “The fear is that it is going to be the same story for methamphetamine.”

Two Bangladeshi Chakmas Among Five Arrested With Huge Arms in India

One Bangladeshi arrestee said he was an activist of Rangmati-based PCJSS.
One Bangladeshi arrestee said he was an activist of Rangmati-based PCJSS.
Agartala, Aug 29 : Five Chakma youths including two from Bangladesh have been apprehended with huge quantity of arms and ammunition in the Indian state of Mizoram.

Manipur — The Land of 1,000 Dances

Sankirtana in Manipur; Khamba Thoibi dance in Lai Haroba
Sankirtana in Manipur; Khamba Thoibi dance in Lai Haroba
Amazing may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of Manipuri. For many, the iconic floating costumes of the Ras-Leela, arms waving over bobbing skirts, are both a charming image and the beginning and end of what is known about this amazing classical dance tradition of India; or rather traditions, as Manipuri dance actually comprises not one but five forms of dance with Ras-Leela simply being the best known outside of the state.

My entre to discovering the incredible depth and richness of this lesser known performing art of northeast India began with a 2x2 inch notice on a University of Michigan dance board announcing the availability of Manipuri Dance classes at the local community centre. That was in 1969 and I had never seen a Manipuri dance performance live or on film, only photographs in dance books and I knew that it was one of the four dance genres recognised as classical at the time of India’s Independence. My first teacher, Minati Basu Roy, a senior disciple of Guru Atomba Singh whom Tagore brought to Santineketan in the 1920s, inspired my desire to come to India to learn more of this lyrical form. I was fortunate to realise this dream through seven years of training under Guru Singhajit Singh and in Manipur studying Maibi jagoi with Ranjani Maibi and Kumar Maibi, Kartal Cholom with guru Thongjan Chaoba Singh and classical Ras-Leela jagoi at the JNU Manipur Akademi.

Manipuri remains surprisingly misunderstood even by dance cognizati, writers and artists of other genres, let alone the general public today. The satvik, internalised abhinaya for which others value as the aim of their art, is the core of the Ras tradition; yet there are those from other traditions who believe that there is no abhinaya in Manipuri. There are five principal Ras dances; of which four are linked with specific seasons, while the fifth can be presented at any time of the year. While outside of Manipur we see small slices of a Ras on the stage, at home the emotional and spiritual import is huge. Every parent would love to be able to afford to co-sponsor a performance as their child would be trained to become Krishna or Radha for the event. Viewers will lie prostrate before the child, as they are the deity for the time being with professionals dancing as Gopis. Every traditional home has a large open space for such performances, which are performed in the round for the community. During the Bhangi Pareng, a pure dance piece of intricate rhythms and patterns, no one in the audience can leave, as this is sacred. You have to get your cup of tea earlier or wait till it’s over!

Besides a few folk dances, Manipuri dances are devotional in a society that is deeply religious. Manipuri dance is sustained by its society; it is still part of religion, an unbroken religious practice, rather than a revival or reconstruction or neo-classical tradition. Because of this, artists from Manipur are reluctant to come out for more than brief tours and few have been willing to live in other regions of India to foster understanding of their art.

It is truly amazing that all forms of Manipuri, or Meitei, dance play a vital living role in day-to- day culture. Despite Herculean efforts by some dancers to recreate this sense of vitality in other parts of India, with greatest continuity in Kerala, it is only in Manipur where dancers work fulltime, performing as an essential part of life celebrations. Besides Ras and the other leelas, the other main dance forms of Manipur are Lai Haroba or Entertainment of the Gods and Sankirtana.

Each stage in one’s life is celebrated with Sankirtana performances — childbirth, upanayanam, marriage and shradha are all occasions for singing and dancing in Manipur. The Sankirtana of Manipur is unique as dance was added to Vaishnava singing of Sankirtana when it was added to the Hindu and Pre-Hindu spiritual dance traditions of Manipur through Bengali missionaries from the 15th century onward. What we see outside of Manipur on stage are the spectacular dancing musicians spinning in the air while playing the Manipuri pung mardala, or the drums of Holi, turbans flying off, after dancing and playing a very few of their 90 rhythmic cycles. Pung cholom borrows elements from the Manipuri martial arts Thang Ta and Sarit Sarak and also from the traditional Maibi jagoi dance. Although Pung Cholom is traditionally performed by men, there are women’s groups that are booked solid throughout the year as part of life cycle events!

The magnificent Pung Cholom performances, impressive as they are, in Manipur are most often seen as part of the Nupa Pala, or Kartal Cholom, which encompasses passionate bhakti singing and dancing with heavy brass cymbals by a circle of dancer-musicians accompanied by a couple of Pung Cholom artists. The Nupa Pala acts as a prologue to the Ras Leela dances, besides an independent performance too, in connection with religious rites. Before the Sankirtana Cholom, artists lead a bridegroom from his home to that of the bride and a messenger from the wedding site at the bride’s home arrives to announce, “We still have the bride, do you still have the groom?” as tradition accepts elopement if either takes off before the planned marriage. It is quite a cacophony when the groom arrives with the Sankirtana music to compete with the brass band playing at the wedding venue! Even more amazing than the fact that dance plays an essential role in daily life in Manipur is that everyone dances! It is the norm to dance and during the festival of Lai-Haroba, the dance of the shamanistic Maibi spiritual mediums will be preceded by community dancing. In a long line dance one sees women from grandmothers to small girls performing a subtle and sophisticated dance that, along with the Maibi dances, was the base for creating the classical Ras. As part of this pre-Hindu annual ritual festival, teenagers from each neighborhood of the many festivals in honor of the 360 Umanglai ancestor deities of the Manipur valley compete as teams with new choreography of the lasya and tandav dance technique to depict the story of Khamba and princess Thoibi, the hero and heroine of a legendary Moirang romance.

The Maibi dances of the Lai Haroba are essential for the preservation of the world, or at least the world of Manipur! It is remarkable that this pre-Hindu tradition has not diminished with the advent of Vaishnavism, which coexists comfortably side-by-side. Maibis are both women, and men dressed as women, who evidence signs of being a Maibi, often as teenagers who have seizures that are not explained as epilepsy by modern science and are then turned over to Maibi gurus who train them in the ritual dances of the Lai Haroba as well as managing their seizures that result in shamanistic trances that help guide the Meitei people who come to them. This kind of shamanism can be seen only in Manipur and across Southeast Asia. There is no dearth of Maibis even in this day and age and it is not something one either wishes to become or avoid if it is so. The Maibi ritual dances include the whole Meitei cosmogony from creation through the creation of man, construction of houses, weaving and other aspects of living. There is even a Maibi dance of the deity playing polo, which originated in Manipur!

Thang-ta, the martial art of Manipur, may arguably be included as a form of dance. Besides the thang or sword, and ta or spear, shields and spears and other weapons are also used. Thang-ta can be practised as ritual, demonstration or combat. The first way is related to the tantric practices and is entirely ritualistic in nature. Demonstrations can be converted into actual fighting practices and combat application. Thang-ta is closely related to certain war-dances like thangkairol (sword dance) and khosarol (spear dance). Many ritualistic dances in Manipur were traditionally performed by martial artists such as the spear dance for funerals or the sacred thengou dance. The first time I saw the spire dance was shortly after the end of the war in Vietnam and I was struck by the technique of stepping forward after first swiveling the foot in front before stepping, which was clearly the wise way to move through knee-high paddy fields that might have stakes hidden throughout, as was the traditional practice used by the Vietcong.

The internationally acclaimed theatre of the brilliant director Rattan Thiyam, and other fine Manipuri theatre groups, is supported by actors, who have learned dance as part of their cultural ethos. Being part of a society that dances has given a foundation on which to build upon an incredibly evocative physical theatre. Manipuri dances use the entire body for expression, comparable to western dance traditions but with different aesthetics. Manipur is a land without stone for temples of sculpted figures. The dance is never static, never stopping in frozen poses, but rather subtle and elegant transitions of circles, curves and figure eights. The ankle bells of many Indian classical forms that clearly delineate rhythms through foot contact cannot be used in Manipuri where the subtly of rhythms are syncopated and the off beats may be demarcated by a bend of the knee or in the air besides by the foot. This makes it less visible to the less observant eye, but the reward of closer attention will reveal a world of ethereal nuance.

Sharon Lowen is a respected exponent of Odissi, Manipuri, Mayurbhanj and Seraikella Chau. She has an MA in Dance from Michigan University and 17 years of experience in Modern Dance and Ballet in the US.

Meghalaya To Introduce Customer Care Centre

Shillong, Aug 29 : Meghalaya government today pledged to introduce a customer care centre (CCC) to look into the various grievances faced by the consumers pertaining to electricity billing or any other discrepancies faced by the people.

"It was decided that the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) would soon introduce the customer care centre to attend the grievances and complaints by the consumers," UDP working President Paul Lyngdoh told reporters here after meeting Power Minister Clement Marak.

Lyngdoh led a delegation of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) formed by the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) along with headmen of different localities in Shillong and its adjoining areas.

The MeECL has also agreed to introduce online billing and payments within this year besides extension of public grievances cell and complaint cell to different parts of the city, he said.

The MeECL had recently introduced spot billing system where a lot of anomalies were detected by the consumers.

Some of the complaints pertained to the number of days billed. There were billings between 40 - 50 to even 64 days period causing hardship and burden to the common man, Lyngdoh said.

NEEPCO To Build 4 Hydro Projects in Manipur

By Sobhapati Samom
Imphal, Aug 29 : Manipur Government today signed a pre-implementation agreement with the North East Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) for implementation of four hydro power projects with a total installed capacity of 368 MW, at the conferene hall of Hotel Imphal here this morning.

Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam, Rural Development Minister Francis Ngajokpa, Parliamentary Secretary for Horticulture and Soil Conservation Vungzagin Valte, State Chief Secretary PC Lawmkunga attended the pre-implementation agreement signing function. State Electricity department chief engineer N Sarat was also present in the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, Ibobi Singh appealed to the NEEPCO authority not to take much time in completing the projects. He also expressed the need to address the environmental issues while taking up the projects. NEEPCO CMD PC Pankaj assured that the Corporation will try to complete the project within five years time.

The four hydropower projects which are expected to be taken up in collaboration with NEEPCO include Irang Hydro Project (60 MW), Tuivai Hydro Project (51 MW), Pabram Hydro Project (190 MW) and Khongnem Hydro Project (67MW).

The project cost of Irang Project is estimated at about Rs 330 crore while Pabram project, may cost more than Rs 1,000 crore, both in Tamenglong district. The Irang project would entail construction of a 104 metres high earthen dam.

Tuivai Project costing around Rs 300 crore would be taken up at Deilkhai village under Thanlon sub-division of Churachandpur district. This project too would have an earthen dam of 110 metres height while the Khongnem power project under Tadubi Assembly constituency in Senapati district will be taken up with an investment of Rs 430 crore.

Manipur is currently facing a power shortage like the other NE States. The State has a shortfall of about 80 MW to 90 MW in peak hour specially in winters.
28 August 2014

Artistes From Northeast Who Made the Cut in Bollywood

By Shaheen Parkar

With the 'Mary Kom' biopic featuring artistes from the North-East, we take a look at the talent pool from the region

The upcoming Priyanka Chopra-starrer Mary Kom, based on the boxing champ, has put the spotlight on the North-East and its presence in Bollywood.
Patralekha, who starred in Citylights, hails from Shillong in Meghalaya. She wonders why people always want to know where she is from
Patralekha, who starred in Citylights, hails from Shillong in Meghalaya. She wonders why people always want to know where she is from
Several local actors have been roped in to play supporting roles in the film. There may not be too many Hindi films releasing in many states in the region, or as many actors, musicians, filmmakers from the region that have made — or are trying to make — an impact on the big screen.

Finding a foothold
Adil Hussain, who is from Goalpara in Assam, essayed the role of Sridevi’s husband in English Vinglish (2012).

Last year, Geetanjali Thapa, who hails from Sikkim, bagged the National Award for Best Actress for her performance in Liar’s Dice
Last year, Geetanjali Thapa, who hails from Sikkim, bagged the National Award for Best Actress for her performance in Liar’s Dice

Patralekha, who was seen in Hansal Mehta’s Citylights earlier this year with beau Rajkummar Rao as her co-star, is from Shillong in Meghalaya.

Geetanjali Thapa won the National Film Award for Best Actress (2013) for her performance in Liar’s Dice. She is from Sikkim and began her glamour innings after winning a beauty pageant in Guwahati, Assam. Veteran actor Danny Dengzongpa is also from Sikkim.

Model Monikangana Dutta hails from Guwahati; she starred in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish (2010) where she played Hrithik Roshan’s ex-flame
Model Monikangana Dutta hails from Guwahati; she starred in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish (2010) where she played Hrithik Roshan’s ex-flame
B-Town singers Zubeen Garg is from Jorhat, Assam, while Papon is from Guwahati in Assam.
Model Monikangana Dutta, who hails from Guwahati, starred in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Guzaarish (2010) playing the character of Hrithik Roshan’s ex-flame.

Meanwhile, Reema Debnath from Agartala in Tripura featured in the Salman Khan-starrer Bodyguard.

The outsiders
Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Chak De India! (2007), for one, showcased Mary Ralte (Kimi Laldawla) from Mizoram and Molly Zimik (Masochon Zimik) from Manipur — in the film, both are treated as ‘foreigners’ in the Indian women’s hockey team.

Singer-composer Papon is from Guwahati
Singer-composer Papon is from Guwahati. Pic/Satyajit Desai

Being looked upon as outsiders is something that they are used to. When told that they are from the North-East, it is as if they belong to another territory.

For some artistes like Patralekha, it is a sense of déjà vu. Says the actress, “I am always asked such questions and I do not want to say anything more on that front. I am from Shillong in Meghalaya and my parents still live there.”

While Monikangana who disappeared from Bollywood after Guzaarish says, “People always ask me where my folks stay. I always tell them I am from Guwahati and my family is based there.” Incidentally, Monikangana has gone back to studies while there is a project in the pipeline.

Singer Zubeen Garg is from Jorhat, Assam
Singer Zubeen Garg is from Jorhat, Assam. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Playing the part
Adil Hussan began his career with theatre and stand-up comedy, and eventually landed in Bollywood with roles in films such as Ishqiya (2010) and Agent Vinod (2012). He was also seen in Life of Pi (2012) and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012).

Adil Hussain, who starred in English Vinglish, hails from Goalpara in Assam
Adil Hussain, who starred in English Vinglish, hails from Goalpara in Assam
The actor feels that these are roles that suit his salt-and-pepper look, as he “detests dyeing his hair.”
The Seven Sister states (read: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura), are often referred to as ‘Paradise Unexplored’.

If the talent in Bollywood is anything to go by, this holds true as B-town doesn’t seem to have tapped the North-East’s full potential.

Known filmmakers from the region include Jahnu Barua, whose 2006 film Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara had Anupam Kher and Urmila Matondkar; Utpal Borpujari; and singers like the late Bhupen Hazarika.

Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi shot her Naseeruddin Shah-Shabana Azmi starrer Ek Pal (1986) in Shillong in Meghalaya and Jorhat in Assam. Her Raveena Tandon-starrer Daman was shot in Guwahati in Assam. She says, “Where a filmmaker wants to shoot is a personal choice. But to be honest, Bollywood rarely makes films with a realistic backdrop. If the reason is inadequate infrastructure, that is the case across the country. You realise this as soon as you move out of Mumbai. A lot of Assamese films are made and shot in the region.”

Filmmaker Rakesh Roshan shot the Madhuri Dixit-Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Koyla (1997), in Arunachal Pradesh. He filmed a song against the backdrop of Shungetser Lake in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang, that is known for its stunning visuals. Mani Ratnam’s 1998 film Dil Se had ULFA’s Assam liberation struggle form its backdrop. Now with the release of Mary Kom, the North-East will hopefully have a bigger presence in Bollywood.

Bru Refugees Want Durable Solution

About 35,000 Reang tribals are staying in six camps in northern Tripura since October 1997

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.

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