Refugee numbers may spoil Tripura-Mizoram talks

July 29th, 2010 - 4:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, July 29 (IANS) A dispute over the number of Mizoram tribal refugees sheltered in Tripura for 13 years might create a fresh imbroglio between the two northeastern states, officials said here Thursday.
A survey sponsored by the Mizoram government says the total number of refugees is 27,261 while the Tripura government says the figure is 40,504.

“Disagreement over the number of refugees might create a serious impasse and an uneasy situation over refugee repatriation,” a top Tripura official said on condition of anonymity.

Since October 1997, Reang tribal refugees, locally called Bru, have taken shelter in six camps in north Tripura’s Kanchanpur sub-division, adjacent to Mizoram. They fled western Mizoram after ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos over the killing of a Mizo forest official.

“After the repatriation of 1,133 refugees to Mizoram in May, the total number of refugee families are 6,224 comprising 40,504 men, women and children,” Shiva Prasad Biswas, the Tripura government’s relief, rehabilitation and disaster management department director, told IANS.

“We are yet to officially get the survey or headcount report conducted during the past few weeks,” Biswas said.

Following the instruction and format of the Mizoram government’s home department, the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), the apex body of the refugees, has done a survey and headcount of refugees in the past few weeks.

Refugee leader Elvis Chorkhy told IANS: “Within the next one week we would submit the survey and headcount reports to the Mizoram government for taking subsequent actions.”

“During 1997 ethnic troubles, several hundreds tribals had also taken shelter from southern Assam and they have been excluded in the survey and headcount,” said Chorkhy.

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