Halam, Manipuri and Muslim groups raise voices as conflict goes beyond Kanchanpur and Panisagar subdivisions inhabited by the Bengali, Mizo and Reang groups
More local communities in T ripura are up in arms against the resettlement of the Brus displaced from adjoining Mizoram.
Members of the Halam community, a Scheduled Tribe of Tripura, also called Riam, on Thursday prevented surveyors from assessing land in the Churaibari area in Dharmanagar Subdivision of North Tripura district. The area borders Assam.
People belonging to the Manipuri and Muslim communities in the area too protested the proposed settlement of Bru refugees in the area.
This was the first instance of conflict over the issue of resettling the internally-displaced Brus beyond the Kanchanpur and Panisagar Subdivisions of North Tripura district. The sizeable Bengali, Mizo and local Brus – also called Reangs – have been against the settling of the Bru refugees near the areas they inhabit.
Ethnic violence in Mizoram
More than 35,000 Brus displaced due to ethnic violence in Mizoram since 1997 are currently distributed among seven relief camps in these two subdivisions. Leaders of the refugees, in January, signed a quadripartite agreement with the Centre and the Mizoram and Tripura governments for rehabilitation in Tripura instead of returning to “uncertainty” in Mizoram.
“We are not against Bru resettlement but the Tripura government must settle them somewhere else. Our land and resources are very limited and sharing them with more people belonging to a different community will leave us with nothing. We cannot let this happen,” said Moni Ranglong, a Halam leader.
He added that all villagers in the area blocked the road of surveyors guided by a plan to settle 1,000 displaced Bru families in forest land around Balicherra village in the Churaibari area. The locals practice jhum or shifting cultivation on the wooded slopes.
Warning of long-term stir
The Ranglong Youth Association also submitted a memorandum to North Tripura’s District Magistrate warning of a long-term agitation if the authorities persist with the “mass settlement of any outside community”.
Other local communities elsewhere in the district have also vowed to carry on demonstrating against the mass settlement of Brus.
The Joint Movement Committee comprising Bengali and Mizo organisations enforced a shutdown across Kanchanpur Subdivision on September 22. “We can allow up to 500 Bru refugee families to be settled in areas of our choice,” committee leader Susanta Bikas Barua said.
Local Brus of four villages — Urehampara, Donjoylapara, Nouhbaraipra and Gomohonpara – have also opposed the settlement of the displaced Brus near their areas despite the ethnic similarity.
The displaced Brus, however, want the government to honour the agreement and settle them in clusters of at least 500 families.