Two years after the Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) surrendered en masse to the Mizoram government ending a decade long tribal insurgency, most of the former rebels are finding it hard to make ends meet.
Bruno Meska, former BNLF general secretary, hoped to raise a family by starting life afresh when he surrendered in 2005. But his dreams lie shattered as the Mizoram government has done nothing for his rehabilitation.
"Our life is in a limbo because the Mizoram government has not taken any initiative to include us as residents of the state. We still do not have ration cards even two years after the memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed," said Meska.
The BNLF, fighting for separate autonomous district council in western Mizoram, signed a MoU with the central and the state governments in 2005 leading to the surrender of about 1,040 BNLF militants.
The MoU was signed with the assurance that more than 33,000 Reang (locally called 'Bru') tribal refugees living in six camps in north Tripura since October 1997 after they fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos would be rehabilitated in their ancestral state.
All the surrendered rebels and their families are currently staying in four new villages in western Mizoram.
The former militants have urged state governor Lt Gen (Retd) MM Lakhera and Chief Secretary Haukhum Hauzel to fulfil the terms of the MoU. The chief secretary has assured that the state government would address their grievances.
The former second-in-command of the outfit, Chandramoni Molsoi, is equally peeved with their plight. "Our children have no educational facilities," he said.
"If this neglect continues, we may have no other recourse than to resort to other means in order to get our basic rights," a former rebel said.