New Delhi: While the situation in Tripura’s Kanchanpur and adjoining Panisagar areas remained tense on Monday, chief minister Biplab Deb has opened back channel negotiations with protestors – a joint movement committee of Bengali and Mizo groups – on how many families belonging to the Bru or Reang tribe could be settled in the north Tripura region, it is learnt. The protests going on for some months now had turned violent on Saturday, which saw two people getting killed and many including state police personnel being injured.
The negotiations between the state and the protestors are essentially on how many people would be resettled in the Kanchanpur sub division area. While the JMC formed with the Nagarik Suraksha Manch and the Mizo Convention of local Mizo people, are demanding only 500 families should be settled in the area, the state government is trying to increase that number.Local MLA and minister Santwana Chakma and local BJP MLA Bhagwan Das are communicating with the protestors on behalf of the state government on the issue.
A four-party agreement signed in January, 2020, including the Centre and the state government as parties, 23 years after the 1997 clashes, decided to allow the 32,000 Bru people in the camps to permanently settle in the state. The Bengali and Mizo communities in Tripura, who claim that thousands of migrants permanently settling in Kanchanpur would lead to demographic imbalance, exert pressure on local resources and potentially lead to law and order problems, have been unhappy about the move.
However, government sources told, “the issue is now about the numbers and that government will not yield to the demand for a written commitment on it which they are asking for. Also, there is a question of finding land across the state. It will get resolved.”
The protestors have been agitating against the government’s move to permanently rehabilitate the Reang people, a community that falls under the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG), have been living in relief camps for over two decades since they fled Mizoram to Tripura, following ethnic clashes in October 1997. About 37,000 Bru refugees have been living in Tripura. Over 5,000 Bru people have returned to Mizoram in phased repatriation, with 32,000 still in the state. The Bru people had been targeted by the Young Mizo Association (YMA), Mizo Zirwlai Pawl (MZP) and a few other organisations of Mizoram.
The protests had started with memoranda, demonstration and press conferences of the newly formed Nagarik Suraksha Mancha, soon turned into a law and order situation, with protesters blocking the National Highway number 8 and engaging in violent clashes with state police. Mizo Convention, a local ethnic group got together with the Mancha and created the JMC, proclaiming that not more than 1,500 Bru families would be allowed to settle at Kanchanpur.
The state has identified 12 resettlement locations across six districts in Tripura with 300 families each. Six of these spots were proposed to be set up at Kanchanpur alone, which is being opposed by the JMC, who have called astrike in the area, which has also impacted movement on the highway that connects, a major connect to other north-eastern states.The Centre announced a special development project with funding of Rs 600 crore, according to the agreement. Each resettled family will get 0.03 acre of land for building a home, Rs 1.5 lakh as housing assistance, Rs 4 lakh as a one-time cash benefit for sustenance and monthly allowance of Rs 5,000 and free rations for two years from the date of resettlement.