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

Swaraj Kaushal praises PM, Shah for Bru repatriation pact, says it's a grand message that country cares

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

New Delhi [India], Jan 19 (ANI): Former Mizoram Governor Swaraj Kaushal on Sunday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for the Bru-Reang repatriation agreement, aimed at settling 34,000 refugees of the community in Tripura, saying it sends a grand message that the country cares about the tribals and asserted that the pact was not an ad-hoc arrangement and an agreement which offers a lasting solution.
"The Bru-Reang refugee agreement is to settle them permanently so that they lead a life of dignity. The best thing about this agreement is that it's not an ad-hoc arrangement. This agreement is a solution that will last," Kaushal, who served as Mizoram's Governor from 1990 to 1993, told ANI in an exclusive interview.
"It's not Bru-Reangs, these are Indian citizens. These tribes are all along India's border with Bangladesh and they are your first line of defence. You cannot ignore them. There is human compassion and national security angle to it," he said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday presided over 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.
Shah said that around 34,000 Bru refugees will be settled in Tripura under the new agreement and the state would be given a package of around Rs 600 crore for their rehabilitation.
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 care of the refugees. Till 2014, 1,622 Bru families returned to Mizoram in different batches.
Meanwhile, Kaushal said that the agreement is not a question of seeking votes.
"Here in Delhi, now people are seeing the national perspective. It is not a question of votes. This decision was not possible without the initiative of the Prime Minister and Home Minister. I am happy that there is a show of sensitivity," he said.
"This is a grand message that the country cares. This a message is that Delhi listens and has addressed the problem," he added.
Talking more about the agreement, Kaushal said, "There is an aspect to this agreement that has never been written in any agreement before. There will be residential schools for them. It means permanent settlement of these people and education of their children."
"Imagine what a person in remote North East must be thinking? Here is a country of 130 crore and the population of Bru-Reang is two lakhs. The government is trying to find a solution for the two lakh people of whom 34,000 are worst affected. It is a grand message that the country cares," he added.
Alluding to the delay by the erstwhile Left government in taking steps to repatriate Bru refugees in Tripura, Kaushal said that they lacked national perspective and could not see beyond 'red'.
"The problem with red is that they just see red or black. They do not go beyond red. If there is a cadre and voter, there is compassion. It requires foresight. The state government, unfortunately, did not have a national perspective." he said.
Allaying fears of those protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) claiming it to be 'anti-religion', the former Mizoram Governor said that the law does not concern those living in India but only those who are "from a foreign country".
"Frankly, I really do not find one good reason to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. It does not concern people who are already here. It concerns those who have come from a foreign country," he remarked.
The introduction of the Act, which grants citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, and Christian refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, had sparked nationwide protests last month.
Kaushal further said that the newly amended act is only for people who have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
"Today we have a friendly government in Bangladesh. Was it always a friendly government? No. There was a government in which fanatics dominated. Do you leave your people at the mercy of such people?" he asked. (ANI)