By Jyoti Lal Chaudhary
Silchar: Even after nearly eight months of the signing of the peace accord between the Government of Mizoram and Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) on April 26, 2005 at Aizawal, the repatriation of 35,000 Bru or Reang refugees languishing in six camps of North Tripura since 1997, looks uncertain. The Brus were forced to desert their native villages in Mizoram in the wake of ethnic violence.
The Brus floated Mizoram Bru Displaced People'sForum (MBDPF) in order to fight for their democratic and constitutional rights to live in peace with basic needs of their life in their home state. Restless and agitated youths aggrieved at the plight of their tribesmen opted for gun culture and formed BNLF to put pressure on the Centre and the State government to resolve the crisis.
Bouts of insurgency in Mizoram prompted the government to initiate talks with MBDPF and BNLF separately. After a few rounds of talks with the Forum, Mizoram government preferred to continue dialogue with the Front. And the 12th round of talks culminated in the accord followed by laying down of arms and ammunitions by BNLF leaders and cadres.
BNLF in all fairness adopted the most flexible and accommodative attitude to end violence and agreed to accept Special Development Project in place of Autonomous District Council for the socio-economic development of the Brus. Quite unfortunately, the four NGOs?Young Mizo Association, Mizoram Hmeichhe Insuikhawm Pawl, Mizo Upa Pawl and Mizo Zirlawi Lawl?raked up old and baseless charges against BNLF of killing a forest guard, forcing the Mizos to leave Sajek hills of Tripura, highway hijacking of Sumo vehicles and doing to death seven Mizo policemen as well as kidnapping of a school boy identified as Lalrinzuala. The SP of Mamit district is on record to describe the kidnapping as the handiwork of a Naga outfit. ?The objective was to scuttle the peace-process and repatriation of the refugees?. Surjya Mani Reang, BNLF supreme said.
35,000 refugees languishing in Tripura camps.
The NGOs even created pressure on Zoramthanga government not to put its seal on the accord unless Bru leaders publicly apologise for approaching the NHRC and Supreme Court with allegations of atrocities on them by the Mizos. The MBDPF did approach NHRC with their grievances and a three-member team of the Commission in 1998 maintained after visiting the refugee camps that ?the Reangs are the lawful citizens of Mizoram and the Mizoram government is obliged to take them back.?
Significantly, Supreme Court acting on PIL filed by S.N. Saxena on behalf of Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram issued notices on January 31, 2005 to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Chief Election Commission and the Government of Mizoram and Tripura, seeking resettlement of the refugees and enrolment of their names as eligible voters among them.
Elvis Chorkhy, president of MBDPF, said, ?taking cognisance of our litany of atrocities by NHRC and Apex Court speaks eloquently of the plight of the Brus and their exodus from the native state of Mizoram.?
Despite the intervention of the NHRC and the Supreme Court, Zoramthanga government has not shown any concern to take back the refugees. The Centre released
Rs 28.63 crore to resolve the Bru crisis in accordance with the accord. ?All that the refugees have got is ration for three months only against that of one year as stipulated,? pointed out Bruno Msha, vice-president of MBDPF.
Strangely enough, Msha said, Doner ministry which is to provide Rs 39 crore for the Special Development Project, to be functional for three years only, has disowned any responsibility in this regard.
To add to their woes, an obscure militant outfit Bru National Liberation Front of Mizoram (BNLFM) with its free run in the refugee camps in Tripura in league with the dreaded National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) has been pressing for separate agreement with Mizoram government and creating obstructions in the process of repatriation. BNLFM is seemingly dictating terms. Though intelligence agencies found enough evidences about the involvement of BNLFM in the kidnapping of an engineer and his assistant of a mini hydel project, BNLFM was blamed.
Questions are now being raised about the very fate of the Accord. Worst still, thousands of refugees, men, women and children, continue to suffer, facing acute water crisis, health-hazards and above all a bleak future for the young without education and jobs. Will the Centre and Mizoram government stir up and resolve the crisis?