Hundreds of tribal refugees, who have been on a hunger strike in Tripura seeking repatriation to Mizoram, refused on Monday to call off their agitation, despite appeals by the state government.
"We shall continue our fast-unto-death agitation till our problem is resolved permanently," said Elvis Chorkhy, president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum.
Some 300 tribal refugees launched the indefinite hunger strike on Friday after resorting to a weeklong sit-in demonstration near the Raj Bhavan in Agartala.
Over 33,000 Reang (locally called 'Bru') tribal refugees have been living in six north Tripura camps since October 1997 after they fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos.
An all-party delegation from the Tripura assembly led by Chief Minister Manik Sarkar met the striking refugee leaders and requested them to withdraw their agitation.
Earlier on Monday, the assembly passed a unanimous resolution urging the refugees to withdraw their stir.
"The Tripura government, all the political parties in the state and the union government are sympathetic towards your cause and struggle. New Delhi has taken certain steps to solve your problems," Sarkar told the agitating refugee leaders.
The chief minister said Union Home Secretary VK Duggal and Joint Secretary (Northeast Affairs) Naveen Verma were arriving in Aizawl on Thursday and will then visit Agartal on Tuesday to discuss the refugee crisis.
Tripura Chief Secretary Shashi Prakash also held a series of talks over phone with the union home ministry and requested it to take urgent steps to end the crisis.
Khagen Das, Lok Sabha member from Tripura, also met the Reang tribal leaders.
In April 2005, the Mizoram government and the militant Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) signed an agreement after 13 rounds of talks to solve the decade-old ethnic crisis, leading to the surrender of about 1,040 militants of the BNLF and Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM).
Both the rebel outfits have been fighting for setting up an autonomous council for the refugees.