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

Reported by

Sarup SinhaLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

January 4, 2021

Location of Conflict

Jampui Hills

,

Kanchanpur Subdivision

North Tripura

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Communal/Ethnic Conflict

Vandalism and destruction of property in Bengali-inhabited area

(

)

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 one-time 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 two-decade-old 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. Nine attempts have been made so far to repatriate the Brus to Mizoram, but a majority of them refuses 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 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 anti-social 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 Mizo-dominant 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 pro-Mizo and pro-Bengali 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 sub-divisions should not exceed 500; second, the Brus must be settled only in six areas identified by the JMC -- Sakhan Hills, Bandarima-Pushporampara, Subalbari, Chaigarhpur, Kalarambari-Bandarima 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 long-term 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 21, the police resorted to lathi charge and opened fire upon protesters who had blocked the national highway at Panisagar. One person died on the spot and several others were injured. 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 magisterial-level probe into the lynching.

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

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

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Resources Related to Conflict

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