Shutdown in Tripura’s Kanchanpur over tribals’ resettlement

Agartala, Sep 22 (IANS) Normal life was crippled in northern Tripura’s Kanchanpur subdivision on Tuesday as the Joint Movement Committee called a 12 hour shutdown in protest against the state government’s decision to rehabilitate thousands of tribal refugees, who fled adjoining Mizoram 23 years ago following ethnic strife, in the area.

According to the police, there was no untoward incident in view of the dawn-to-dusk shutdown.

Government offices, markets, shops and business establishments remained closed while all types of vehicles remained off the roads.

Convener of the Joint Movement Committee (JMC), comprising tribal and non-tribal leaders, Sushanta Bikash Barua said that they had earlier welcomed the state government’s decision to rehabilitate the tribal refugees in Kanchanpur.

“Considering the area and demography of Kanchanpur subdivision, we had urged the government, on a number of occasions, to rehabilitate not more than 500 refugees here but the government unilaterally initiated the process to settle several thousand tribals in the area,” he told the media.

Barua, accompanied by the other leaders of the JMC, threatened to launch a much bigger movement if the state government did not change its decision.

An agreement was signed in January this year to end the 23-year-old crisis by rehabilitating over 34,000 refugees, from 5,400 families, of the Reang community, locally called “Bru”, in different places of Tripura, including Kanchanpur, where they had migrated in 1997 from Mizoram following ethnic conflict.

The agreement was signed by Chief Secretaries of Mizoram, Tripura and representatives of refugees in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

As per the agreement, which came after Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had in November last year agreed to accept the tribal refugees, the Reang will settle in Tripura and will be given aid for their rehabilitation.

These tribals would now be included as voters in Tripura as per the agreement.

The Centre has announced a package of Rs 600 crore for the settlement of these tribals, recognised as a primitive tribe in Tripura.

Of the package, Rs 150 lakh will be given to Tripura government for land acquisition and the rest of the money will be spent for the welfare of these tribals, who are traditionally follow the unscientific “Jhum” (slash and burn) method of cultivation.

–IANS

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