‘New ray of hope’: PM Modi hails Bru agreement in ‘Mann Ki Baat’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hailed the signing of an agreement to settle the Bru-Reang refugees in Tripura who have been living there for over two decades after fleeing their home in Mizoram. 

The agreement was signed in Delhi on January 16 by representatives of Bru refugees and the central and Mizoram and governments in presence of Amit Shah at the Ministry of Home Affairs at North Block.

On his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Republic Day, in the first episode of 2020, Modi said, “When Punjab was spreading the warmth of enthusiasm by celebrating Lohri, sisters and brothers of Tamil Nadu were celebrating Pongal and birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar My dear countrymen, a couple of weeks ago, different parts of India were celebrating a variety of festivals. A significant agreement was signed in Delhi. With it, the close-to-25-year-old Bru-Reang refugee crisis, a painful chapter, was put to an end forever and ever.”

“Finally the new decade of 2020, has brought a new ray of hope in the life of the Bru-Reang community,” he said. 

“Considering everyone as its own and living with the spirit of togetherness is embedded in the ethos of this holy land. I would once again like to congratulate the residents of these states and the Bru-Reang community,” he added. 

Approximately 34,000 Bru-Reang refugees from Mizoram who have been living in Tripura for over two decades. 

According to the agreement, the Bru refugees will be settled in Tripura permanently. 

Bru tribals will get a 40*30 feet residential plot along with a fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakhs, Rs. 5,000 cash aid per month for 2 years, free ration for 2 years and Rs. 1.5 lakhs aid to build their house.

Rs 600 crore package has been approved by the Centre for this.

The tribals fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the Mizo community in 1997 and have been living in Tripura in different relief camps ever since. 

Earlier, an agreement signed in July 2018 for repatriation of the Bru tribals to Mizoram did not materialise as a majority of the refugees refused to leave Tripura. The aid given to these families was increased substantially 328 families comprising of 1369 individuals returned to Mizoram under the agreement.

However, some families refused to return and demanded that they may be allowed to settle down in Tripura, considering their apprehensions about their security.

Here is what Modi said on the Bru refugee crisis and the new agreement:

My dear countrymen, a couple of weeks ago, different parts of India were celebrating a variety of festivals. When Punjab was spreading the warmth of enthusiasm by celebrating Lohri, sisters and brothers of Tamil Nadu were celebrating Pongal and birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar. Assam was aglow with the fascinating lustre of Bihu. In Gujarat, everywhere you could see kites in the sky and the pomp of Uttaraayan. In such an atmosphere, Delhi witnessed a historic event. A significant agreement was signed in Delhi. With it, the close-to-25-year-old Bru-Reang refugee crisis, a painful chapter, was put to an end forever and ever. 

Due to the busy routine and festive season, you might not have been able to learn about this historic agreement in detail. So I thought, I should definitely discuss this in Mann ki Baat. This problem pertains to the 90s. In 1997, ethnic tension forced the Bru-Reang tribe to leave Mizoram and take refuge in Tripura. These refugees were kept in temporary camps in Kanchanpur in North Tripura. It’s painful that the Bru-Reang community lost a significant part of their life as refugees. Life in camps meant that they were deprived of all basic amenities. For 23 years – no home, no land, no medical treatment for their families, no education facilities for their kids. Just imagine, how difficult it must have been for them to live 23 long years in trying circumstances in camps! How painful it would have been to spend every moment, every day of their lives hurtling towards an uncertain future! Governments came and went, but there was no cure for their pain. Despite that, their unwavering belief in the Indian Constitution and culture continued. It’s a result of that belief that their life is on the threshold of a new dawn today. 

As per the agreement, the path to a dignified life has been opened for them. Finally, the new decade of 2020, has brought a new ray of hope in the life of the Bru-Reang community. Around 34000 Bru refugees will be rehabilitated in Tripura. Not just that, the government will provide assistance of close to Rs.600 crores for their rehabilitation and all-round development. Each displaced family will be provided with a plot of land. They will be assisted in the construction of a house. In addition, rations will be provided to them. They will now be able to benefit from the public welfare schemes of the state and central governments. This agreement is special for many reasons. It symbolises the spirit of cooperative federalism. The Chief Ministers of both Mizoram and Tripura were present during the signing of the agreement. This agreement was made possible only because of the consent and good wishes of people from both the states. 

I would like to especially express my gratitude to the people and the Chief Ministers of both the states for making this possible. This agreement also epitomises the inherent compassion and sensitivity of Indian culture. Considering everyone as its own and living with the spirit of togetherness is embedded in the ethos of this holy land. I would once again like to congratulate the residents of these states and the Bru-Reang community.

Courtesy : DNA

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