Former Mizoram Governor Swaraj Kaushal speaking to ANI in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo/ANI
Former Mizoram Governor Swaraj Kaushal speaking to ANI in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo/ANI

Bru-Reang refugees India's first line of defence along Bangladesh border: Swaraj Kaushal

ANI | Updated: Jan 19, 2020 14:38 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 19 (ANI): Former Governor of Mizoram Swaraj Kaushal on Sunday welcomed the Central government's agreement with stakeholders to settle Bru-Reang refugees in Tripura and termed the tribe as India's first line of defence along Bangladesh border.
In an exclusive interview to ANI, Kaushal said, "These tribes are all along India's border with Bangladesh, they are your first line of defence. You cannot ignore them. The agreement reflects the country's foresight about national security and compassion."
The comments came in the backdrop of the signing of an agreement between the Central government and the governments of Tripura and Mizoram and Bru-Reang representatives under which around 34,000 internally displaced people will be settled in Tripura.
The refugees would get all rights that residents of the states have and would now be able to enjoy the benefits of social welfare schemes of Centre and state governments.
"The Bru-Reang refugee agreement is to settle them permanently so that they lead a life of dignity," Swaraj said.
He also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah and said that the initiative would not have been possible without them.
Kaushal added, "Imagine what a person in remote North-East must be thinking? Here is a country of 130 crore and population of Bru-Reang is 2 lakh, and GOI is trying to find a solution for two lakh people of whom 34,000 are worst affected. It is a grand message that country cares."
Former Mizoram Governor said that the agreement has sent a grand message to the people. "The message is that Delhi listens and has addressed the problem. Here in Delhi now, people are seeing the national perspective. It is not a question of votes."
He said that the repatriation agreement to resettle refugees in Tripura is not an ad-hoc arrangement but a solution that will last.
Swaraj further added, "There is an aspect to this agreement that has never been written in any agreement before that is there will be residential schools for them. It means the permanent settlement of these people and the education of their children."
The Brus are spread across Tripura, Mizoram, and parts of southern Assam and are ethnically different from the Mizos, with their own distinct language and dialect. They had demanded an Autonomous District Council (ADC), under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution, in western Mizoram.
In 1997, following ethnic tensions, around 5,000 families comprising around 30,000 Bru tribals were forced to flee Mizoram and seek shelter in Tripura. These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur in North Tripura.
Since 2010, the central government has been making sustained efforts to permanently rehabilitate these refugees. The Centre has been assisting the two-state governments of Mizoram and Tripura for taking the care of the refugees. Till 2014, 1,622 Bru families returned to Mizoram in different batches.
On July 3, 2018, an agreement was signed between the central government, the two-state governments and representatives of Bru refugees, as a result of which the aid given to these families was increased substantially.
Subsequently, 328 families comprising of 1,369 individuals returned to Mizoram under the agreement. There had been a sustained demand of most Bru families that they may be allowed to settle down in Tripura, considering their apprehensions about their security. (ANI)