Tribal refugees continue road blockade in Tripura
Notwithstanding government appeal, tribal refugees sheltered in Tripura for the past more than 22 years after escape from Mizoram, continued their road blockade for the seventh day on Wednesday demanding continuation of food and relief supplies.
Huge contingent of central para-military and Tripura State Rifles were deployed in Panisagar and Kanchanpur Sub-Divisions of North Tripura Districts, where over 35,000 Reang tribal refugees are sheltered in seven relief centres since October 1997 after they fled from their villages in western Mizoram in the wake of communal tension there.
When asked whether the immigrants would be evicted to clear the vital highways, North Tripura Superintendent of Police Bhanupada Chakraborty told IANS over phone: "First we are persuading the refugees to lift their road blockade. Subsequent actions would be decided in a day or two."
The District administrations, however, also promulgated section 144 of the CrPc to prohibit the gathering of people in the tension ridden tribal dominated areas, 175 km north of Agartala.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Panisagar, Lalnunnemi Darlong and SDM Kanchanpur Abeda Nanda Baidya told IANS over phone on Wednesday that food and relief supplies to the refugees were stopped on September 30. Senior tribal leaders Prem Kumar Reang (BJP), Jitendra Chowdhury (CPI-M), former Tripura Congress President Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman, Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council Chief Executive Member Radhacharan Debbarma met the agitating refugees during the last few days and demanded resumptions of foods and relief to the migrants.
Former union minister and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh, who is leading a six-member Congress delegation to northeast India to gather opinions of people and party leaders on National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Bill, told the media here on Wednesday that "it is a gross humanitarian violation of stopping supply of food and relief to these most backward tribals."
The refugees are blockading vital roads since October 31 demanding recommencement of food and relief supplies.
According to authorities, in the latest phase of the repatriation process only 670 immigrants have returned to their villages so far.
The Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF), the apex body of the refugees, has also threatened to loot the Kanchanpur government food godowns if the relief supplies are not started immediately.
The MBDPF in separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and North Tripura District Magistrate Raval Hemendra Kumar urged them to resume the relief supplies.
According to an official of the Relief Department, the stalled repatriation of refugees resumed on October 3 with the joint arrangements made by the Tripura and Mizoram governments. He said: "The repatriation process could not be carried out properly due to protests and obstacles put up by a section of refugees, mostly women.
The refugees have expressed total dissatisfaction over the ongoing repatriation process. They have demanded an autonomous district council (ADC) for the Reang tribals, re-arrangement of the resettlement areas, liberty to each family to choose their area of resettlement, deployment of Central forces for the protection of the repatriated refugees and cash assistance, the resolution said.
A Home Department official in Aizawl said the Union Home Ministry recently approved Rs 350 crore for the rehabilitation of the Reang tribals, after the completion of the ninth phase of the repatriation process.
The MBDPF in a letter to the Mizoram Home Minister had alleged that the provisions of the four-partite agreement, signed in Delhi on July 3, 2018, had been violated. The four-partite agreement had finalised a six-point benefit package for each refugee family. It included Rs 4 lakh financial aid, monthly allowance of Rs 5,000, Rs 1.5 lakh for building a house and free ration for two years.
But the refugees later refused the package, demanding security by Central paramilitary forces and allotment of five hectares of land to each refugee family, besides the formation of an area development council for the Reang tribals, which is a primitive tribe among the tribals. The refugees hail from three districts in Mizoram - Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib spanning across nine of the state's 40 Assembly constituencies.IANS