India: About 1,000 Bru families displaced - ACHR's fact finding team concludes visit to Mizoram and Bru IDP camps in Tripura

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Aizawl/Agartala: The Fact Finding Team (FFT) of the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) consisting of Mr Suhas Chakma, Mr Bamang Tago (Anthony), Mr Nava Thakuria and Mr Mangal Debbarma completed the fact finding mission to Mizoram and Tripura from 8 to 15 December 2009. The ACHR was invited by the Mizoram government to investigate the recent incidents that led to exodus of the hundreds of Brus from Mizoram to Tripura. The exodus took place following retaliatory attacks on the Brus by the anti-social elements - according to the officials of the State government of Mizoram - after the murder of a Mizo youth, Mr Zarzokima on 13th November 2009 by persons who are yet to be identified.

Apart from the senior Mizoram government officials, the FFT met Mizoram's Chief Minister Pu Lalthanhawla and Home Minister R. Lalzirliana on 14 December 2009 in Aizawl. The head of the FFT, Mr Suhas Chakma, also met Chief Secretary of Tripura, Mr Sudhir Sharma today i.e. 15 December 2009.

The FFT was given free and unrestricted access to the Bru displaced persons including to the affected Damdial and New Eden villages of Mamit district where a large majority of Bru houses were burnt down. These villages have been built for the surrendered members of the Bru National Liberation Front and Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram.

Over 1,000 Bru families have been displaced. The Deputy Commissioner of Mamit district of Mizoram informed that they were providing relief to 383 Bru displaced families. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Kanchanpur, Tripura informed that 2,746 persons from 526 families had sought shelter in Tripura as on 2 December 2009. Since 3 December 2009, at least 60 more Bru families have crossed over to Tripura while about 63 families from New Eden village who had taken shelter in Tripura, have returned to Mizoram.

While the final report of the FFT and recommendations will be submitted at a later date, as immediate measures, the Fact Finding Team recommended to the State Government of Mizoram to undertake proactive measures to rebuild the lives of the displaced Brus by providing compensation for the properties damaged, seeds for cultivation and free rations until the next harvest. Since there is no dispute whatsoever with regard to the bonafide residence of these 1,000 displaced families, the State government of Mizoram and the State government of Tripura should take measures to ensure their return with safety, security and dignity.

"If the State government of Mizoram extends the relief measures to those Brus who have taken shelter in Tripura since 13 November 2009 until the next harvest, and also addresses palpable lack of faith of the Brus in the Mizoram security forces, this could build necessary confidence to find a solution to the Bru crisis. Otherwise, the exodus of Brus to Tripura will continue." - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

The FFT met the representatives of the Young Mizo Association, Mizo Zirlai Pawl, Bru National Liberation Front, Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum and Bru Students Organisation and appreciated the submissions/positions made to resolve the decade long crisis.

"The recent influx of the Brus is another reminder to the Central government, the State government of Mizoram, State government of Tripura and the Mizo and Bru community organisations that unless sincerity is shown by all the parties, the Bru problem could have serious implications. The time has come for all the actors to re-engage in dialogue with outmost sincerity." - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of the ACHR on behalf of the Fact Finding Team.

"The two communities have co-existed with peace and harmony for ages. The current differences are not too wide, and can be resolved through dialogue and enforcement of the rule of law. The Asian Centre for Human Rights shall explore the possibilities to bridge the differences". - assured Mr Chakma.