Mizo, Bengali Organisations in Tripura Oppose Large-scale Resettlement of Brus

Reported by

Sarup SinhaLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

April 5, 2021

Location of Conflict

Jampui Hills

,

Kanchanpur Subdivision

North Tripura

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Communal/Ethnic Conflict

Permanent residence of Brus in the Kanchanpur division

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

35000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

1187

ha

State

Tripura

Sector

Land Use

Tripuras current state of political turmoil is marked by a divide between its three major communities the Mizos and the Bengalis on one hand and the Bru tribe on the other. The root of the dispute lies in a recent decision to permanently settle 35,000 Bru migrants from Mizoram in Tripura as part of the quadripartite agreement signed among the Centre, the Governments of Tripura and Mizoram and the Bru leaders of Tripura on January 16, 2020. As per the new agreement, the Brus would be granted, among other things, equal political rights and social entitlements in Tripura. Each Bru household will receive a plot of land, two years of ration support, a onetime cash deposit of INR 4 lakh and a monthly cash support of INR 5,000 for two years. The agreement was signed with the hope that it would resolve a twodecadeold crisis involving the Bru tribal community residing as refugees in Tripura. At least 35,000 Brus were displaced from Mizoram in the wake of intense ethnic clashes between the Brus and the majority Mizo tribe in 1997. Since then, the Brus have migrated to Tripura and have been living in various relief camps in the state. The centre and state governments made nine attempts to send the Brus back and succeeded to repatriate 8,573 Brus to mizoram in the first attempt in 2017. Subsequent attempts were stalled by Mizo NGOs, such as the Young Mizo Association, in 2011, 2012 and 2015. The Brus, themselves, have also refused to go back, fearing persecution at the hands of the Mizos. The agreement has had mixed reaction so far. While the political leaders involved in the agreement have hailed it as historic, the reaction of various organisations representing the Mizos and the Bengalis in Tripura, especially in the north of the state, have been lukewarm. The Mizo and Bengali populations inhabit Kanchanpur subdivision in North Tripura district, with the Mizos being concentrated in the villages of Jampui Hills. It is here that active protests against the resettlement of Brus have been staged since the start of 2020. In February and March, Nagarik Suraksha Mancha (NMS), an organisation formed in the aftermath of an attack on the Bengalis in Kanchanpur in December 2019, and the Mizo convention, an organisation representing the Mizos in Tripura, joined hands to collectively oppose the resettlement plan in the Bengali and Mizo inhabited areas of the district. They have staged multiple protests, road blockades and hunger strikes to draw the governments attention. These organisations argue that the local people have struggled to adjust with the Brus owing to their antisocial behaviour and fear massive social disturbances may arise from their resettlement. They also consider the Brus a threat to their demography and scarce natural resources. Mizoram Chief Minister P. Zoramthanga has requested Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb to reconsider and cancel the proposal of resettling the Bru migrants in and around Jampui Hills. He highlighted the existing ethnic tension between the Brus and the Mizos, suggesting that their settlement in Mizodominant areas will defeat the purpose of the agreement. Further, the opposing parties claim that no prior discussion was held with the local organisations, that no consultation took place and that the interests of the local inhabitants were not taken into consideration during the land verification process for the resettlement. Various proMizo and proBengali groups have united under a collective called the Joint Movement Committee (JMC), comprising members of the Mizo Convention, NMS and other indigenous communities of Kanchanpur subdivisions. On July 21, 2020, they submitted a memorandum to the state government with their proposals: first, the number of Bru families to be settled in the Kanchanpur and Panisagar subdivisions should not exceed 500; second, the Brus must be settled only in six areas identified by the JMC Sakhan Hills, BandarimaPushporampara, Subalbari, Chaigarhpur, KalarambariBandarima in Kanchanpur subdivision and Kukinala in Panisagar subdivision; and third, at least a few members of the JMC must monitor the resettlement process. The JMC has clarified that they do not reject the resettlement of the Brus in Tripura in toto. Their only condition is that the resettlement plan ought to meet the criteria set forth by them if longterm peace is to be maintained in the district. Susanta Bikas Barua, JMC convenor, clarified his position by saying, We are not against the rehabilitation. All we are saying is distribute the burden of refugees across the eight districts of Tripura because our areas do not have the space or resources to accommodate more than 500 families." After a brief lull in protests during the lockdown period, agitation has resumed in the Panisagar area in North Tripura district since November. On November 18, 2020, the issue took a violent turn. A Kanchanpur local was seriously injured in an attack by a Bru refugee, after which the local Joint Movement Committee (JMC) against the settelement of Brus called for an indefinite shut down in the Kanchanpur division. A blockade on the National Highway was also enforced. On November 22, 2020, a contingent of police and paramilitary allegedly opened fire against JMC in an altercation over the withdrawal of the blockade. Two people died. Inquiry into the deaths and compensation to the families are still incomplete. In their defense, the police explained that the protest had taken a violent turn and the agitation had started to escalate despite repeated warnings to the crowd to disperse. On the same day, a fireman named Biswajit Debbarma was lynched by a mob allegedly comprising the protesters. The lynching provoked strong criticism from various quarters, such as the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura and The Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance, who support the resettlement process. The government has ordered a magisteriallevel probe into the lynching. On November 27, 2020, one Litan Nath was abducted and his decomposed body was recovered 50 days later. This again led to the JMC protesting, claiming that the Bru National Liberation Front is responsible for the murder. On December 1, 2020, the Brus refused to be settled across the state and demanded to be concentrated in Kanchanpur. They demand that atleast 50% of the Brus should be settled in the division. The Tripura government had ordered completion of the resettlement process within 260 days from January 16, 2020, but the pandemic and the lockdown had significantly delayed the progress. The allotment of land has not been done yet, and the process is likely to take u Violence amongst the locals and the Brus persists in Tripura. 

Region Classification

Urban and Rural

Type of Land

Both

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

1187

ha

Starting Year

2019

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for rehabilitation

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, Revenue Department, District administration of North Tripura, Sub-division administration of Kanchanpur and Panisagar, Revendue Department and Ministry of Home Affairs

The researcher made several attempts to speak to Chandni Chandran, sub divisional magistrate of Kanchanpur, but the calls went unanswered.

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Indigenous People's Front of Tripura, Bharatiya Janata Party, Chief Minister of Mizoram, Indian National Congress Party, Young Mizo Association, National Liberation Front of Tripura, Bru National Liberation Front

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
X

Reporting on the Biodiversity Crisis in India: A journalism bootcamp

Join experts and journalists to understand and learn the tools to investigate and tell nuanced stories on the challenges faced by India’s biodiversity.
Apply Now