Bru Tribe Resettlement Issue – UPSC GS3

  • In 1997,  some 40,000 Bru people were displaced from the state of Mizoram.
  • Unfortunately, this incident got much less traction than that of the Kashmiri Pandits seven years before.
  • However, a task that has been more frustrating has been making the displaced Bru people return home from relief camps from the adjoining state of Tripura.
  • This has been a frustrating experience for the Centre and the north-eastern States for almost 21 years now.
Who are the Bru people?
  • The Brus community are also known as Reangs.
  • These people are scattered across the states of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura.
  • In the state of Mizoram, they inhabit small pockets of Mamit, Lunglei and Lawngtlai districts. However, the biggest chunk is in Mamit bordering North Tripura district of Tripura.
Conflict between the Mizos and the Brus
  • A conflict with the majority Mizos in 1995 made influential organisations like the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (students’ union) demand that the Brus, labelled a non-indigenous tribe, be deleted from Mizoram’s electoral rolls.
  • As a consequence to this, an armed movement began by the extremist Bru National Liberation Front.
  • This armed movement killed a Mizo forest official on October 21, 1997.
  • Further, many Bru villages were burnt down and scores were allegedly raped and killed.
  • Thousands of Brus fled to North Tripura where they were given shelter in relief camps. Most of the refugees were from Mamit and a few from Kolasib and Lunglei.
  • The Brus are not a major voting force in the state of Mizoram. They were only a force in about three of Mizoram’s 40 Assembly constituencies.
  • It was only during election season that Mizoram officials crossing over to Tripura for facilitating their franchise.
  • With time, the Brus began demanding relief on a par with that of Kashmiri Pandit and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.
Government Initiatives:
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs brought the stakeholders to the talks in 2015, and a financial package of Rs. 435 crore was arrived at in July.
  • Significantly, the package covers 32,876 members of 5,407 Bru families. It includes, a one-time assistance of Rs. 4 lakh in fixed deposit within a month of repatriation, monthly assistance of Rs. 5,000 through direct benefit transfer, free rations for two years, and finally, Rs. 1.5 lakh in three instalments for building houses.
What does the package include?
The package included:
a) Eklavya residential schools,
b) permanent residential and
c) ST certificates and
d) funds to the Mizoram government for improving security in the Bru resettlement areas.
What is the present situation?
  • The refugees were given a September 30 deadline to move or face harder times in the camps. But the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Coordination Committee (MBDPCC), another refugee group, has demanded a better package that includes resettlement in clusters and an autonomous council for Brus.
  • It is important to note that a few families have accepted the package offered by the Centre and returned, but most of the internally displaced refugees have refused to budge unless they get a better deal. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has set them a September 30 deadline and threatened to stop free rations and other facilities.
Concluding Remarks:
  • In conclusion, Mizoram and Tripura officials involved in the repatriation process feel the government will relax the deadline for more refugees to “change their mind.” The pressure is also from local Brus of Tripura, who are reportedly facing an identity crisis because of the refugees.

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