Recently, Union Minister of State for Social Empowerment & Justice said that all internally displaced Bru people who are living in relief camps in Tripura will be rehabilitated by March 31.
Who are the Brus?
They are a community indigenous to the Northeast, living mostly in Tripura, Mizoram, and Assam.
In Tripura, they are recognised as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
The Brus are ethnically distinct from the Mizos, and the two tribes speak mutually unintelligible languages/dialects, unlike Mizos and Kukis, who share close linguistic and cultural ties and were usually referred to as Kuki-Lushai tribes in colonial times (Lushai or Lusei is the most prominent clan in what is now the Mizo community).
In Tripura, where the Brus are the most populous tribe after the Tripuris, they are known as Reangs, and were almost 2 lakh strong during the 2011 Census.
In Mizoram, they are largely referred to by other tribes as ‘Tuikuk’.
What made them flee to Tripura?
About half the Bru population in Mizoram fled to Tripura in 1997 following ethnic clashes with the Mizos.
That year, Bru leaders had demanded an Autonomous District Council (ADC) for the tribe under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution in the western areas of Mizoram, where they were present in sizable numbers but where Mizos formed the majority.
Why are they being repatriated?
Tripura is keen that the Brus return to Mizoram, since they add to the sizeable tribal population, and because the land occupied by the relief camps is owned by domicile tribals.
The MHA foots the bill and oversees the task of repatriation, while the Tripura and Mizoram governments handle the exercise on the ground.
The current repatriation is the ninth attempt to bring back Brus to Mizoram, the first having taken place as long ago as 2000.
The eight previous attempts have been less than successful, with just over 9,000 Brus returning.
The Centre has labelled this the final attempt at repatriation, but then again, each attempt since 2013 has been called that.