Bru community pins hopes on Tripura assembly polls
Polity & Governance
16th Feb, 2023
Displaced from their decades old inhabited villages in Mizoram 26 years ago following ethnic troubles, around 14,000 of the total 37,136 Brujanjatiyas are likely to cast their votes in the February 16 assembly polls to elect a new government in Tripura.
Who are Bru refugees?
- Brus, also referred to as Reangs, are a tribal community indigenous to northeast India and have historically resided in parts of Mizoram, Tripura, and Assam.
- In the state of Tripura, the Brus are a designated Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).
Being ethnically distinct from the majority Mizos, the Brus are often referred to as “Vai” in the state, meaning outsiders or non-Mizos.
- Most Brus residing in Tripura today have suffered more than two decades of internal displacement, fleeing ethnic persecution primarily from the neighboring state of Mizoram.
- In 1995, the Young Mizo Association and the Mizo Students' Association demanded that Brus be eliminated from Mizoram’s electoral rolls as they were not indigenous inhabitants.
- Tensions escalated after the Brus retaliated against the Mizos’ attempts to disenfranchise them, and organized themselves into an armed group, the Bru National Liberation Front, and a political entity, the Bru National Union.
- They also demanded the creation of a separate Bru Autonomous District Council (ADC) in western Mizoram as per the provisions of the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution.
- However, their attempts at seeking greater autonomy were foiled and resultant ethnic clashes forced many Reangs in Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram to migrate to neighboring Tripura in 1997.
- Thousands of Brus fled to North Tripura where they were given shelter in relief camps. Today, roughly 35,000 Reangs continue to reside in north Tripura’s Kanchanpur camp as refugees, as per Home Ministry estimates.
The 2020 Pact
- In 2020, an agreement was signed between the Centre, Tripura and Mizoram governments and the Bru leaders.
- Under the 2020 pact, the governments identified 16 potential resettlement locations in four districts of Tripura — North Tripura, Dhalai, South Tripura and Gomati.
- Over 37,130 displaced Brus comprising 6,959 families are being rehabilitated in 12 locations in four of Tripura’s eight districts — North Tripura, Dhalai, Gomati and South Tripura.