After non-Bru communities, local Reangs of Tripura have opposed the large-scale resettlement of Bru refugees from Mizoram in their vicinity.
Reang is another name of the Bru tribe, also called Tuikuk in Mizoram.
In a memorandum to the District Magistrate of North Tripura district on September 14, the chiefs of four villages have objected to the proposed measurement of land for resettling some of the Bru refugee families in the Urehampara area of Kanchanpur Subdivision. The four villages are Urehampara, Donjoylapara, Nouhbaraipra and Gomohonpara.
More than 35,000 Brus, who had fled ethnic violence in Mizoram over a few years since 1997, are housed in seven refugee camps across Kanchanpur and adjoining Panisagar Subdivision of North Tripura district.
The resettlement of the displaced Brus in Urehampara area will affect the jhum (shifting cultivation) farmlands and put pressure on our people, said Guthiram Reang, the choudhury or chief of Urehampara village.
His Donjoylapara counterpart Ontomoni Reang said the people of the four villages, an average of 34 km from sub-divisional headquarters Kanchanpur, have inhabited the area for 65 years. Remoteness, lack of road connectivity and access to government facilities make life difficult. Dumping people from elsewhere will make our lives harder, he said.
The village chiefs and Koilajoy Reang, the vice-chairman of Manuchailenga Panchayat covering these villages said the government should rather resettle the displaced Brus in Purnojoypara area nearby. They also suggested that the number of families to be settled there should be 1,000 at most.
The displaced Brus want at least 500 families to be settled in one area. This they said was one of the points in the quadripartite agreement of January 16 for resettling them in Tripura instead of making them return to uncertainty in Mizoram.
Representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs had signed the agreement with leaders of the refugee Bru organisations and representatives of the Mizoram and Tripura governments.
Earlier in September, the Joint Movement Committee (JMC) comprising Bengali and Mizo organisations had opposed the State governments move to settle 4,900 Bru families in Kanchanpur and Panisagar subdivisions.
We are in principle not against the Bru settlement agreement but we want the refugee families to be distributed equitably in all districts [of Tripura] and not concentrated in Kanchanpur Subdivision to avoid negative social, cultural, political, environmental and ecological impacts, JMC convenor Susanta Bikas Barua said.
Local Brus and non-Brus insist that Kanchanpur and Panisagar subdivisions do not have the space and resources to absorb the load of the Brus who fled Mizoram.