Mizoram will soon take back around 35,000 Reang tribal refugees who have been staying in Tripura since 1997 after fleeing their state due to ethnic violence, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said on Wednesday.
"The Mizoram chief minister during his visit in north Tripura held a meeting with refugee leaders Jan 8. He also asked the refugee leaders to study the proposed land and areas where the immigrants would be settled after their repatriation to Mizoram," Sarkar told reporters here.
He had Monday held talks about the repatriation of tribal refugees with Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla in New Delhi.
Sarkar said: "I have also discussed about the Mizoram refugee repatriation with union home secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai in New Delhi. Pillai will visit Tripura next month."
Over 35,000 Reang tribal refugees have been sheltered in six north Tripura camps since 1997 after they fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizo community.
"The Mizoram chief minister assured us that he would call a Congress legislature party (CLP) meeting immediately to discuss the refugee repatriation issue," said Elvis Chorkhy, who led the three-member refugee delegation that met Lal Thanhawla in north Tripura last week.
Lal Thanhawla visited north Tripura's Mizo-dominated areas and participated in a Mizo cultural function. There are several thousand Mizos residing in north Tripura adjacent to Mizoram.
He had told reporters: "It was not possible to constitute an autonomous council for Reang tribals (locally called Bru) residing in Mizoram. The refugees came to Tripura voluntarily and they should go to their homeland willingly."
"A road map for the repatriation of tribal refugees from Tripura has been prepared and it was approved by the union home ministry," he added.
The tribal refugees are unwilling to return to their homes in Mizoram until their demands for fool-proof security and sufficient financial assistance are accepted by the state government.
"The Mizoram government's package for the home-bound refugees suggested a Rs.20,000 cash grant instead of Rs.50,000 as promised earlier. The package also recommended a scattered resettlement of the 35,000 tribal refugees in three different districts of Mizoram - Mamit, Kolashib and Lunglei. We want compact rehabilitation of the tribals in two districts in western Mizoram," Chorkhy told IANS.