Agartala, Jan 15 (IANS) Foodgrain and other relief supplies for the Reang tribals sheltered in Tripura for over 21 years, have been extended for another two-and-a-half-months, an official said here on Tuesday.
“The (Union) Home Ministry has extended the deadline for repatriation of tribal refugees from Tripura to Mizoram till March 31. The assistance to the refugees in the form of foodgrain and cash dole will also be continued till March 31,” Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate Abeda Nanda Baidya told IANS on the phone.
Baidya said following the appeal of the refugees, the Central government had initially agreed to resume the supply of free rations and relief material to them (refugees) from October 22 last year. This was to stop on Wednesday.
Following a four-party agreement in Delhi last July, the supply of foodgrain and relief material was stopped from October 1, ostensibly to compel the tribal migrants to return to their villages in Mizoram.
Over 35,000 Reang tribals, comprising 5,907 families, fled from Mizoram and have been staying in seven relief camps in northern Tripura’s Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions since October 1997 following ethnic tension after a Mizo forest official was killed in the neighbouring state.
Meanwhile, the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), the apex body of the refugees, has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Joint Secretary (North-East) Satyendra Garg to extend their relief and other assistance until they returned to their homes in Mizoram.
MBDPF President A. Sawibunga, Vice-President R. Laldawngliana and General Secretary Bruno Msha, in a joint letter on Monday, said that it would be very inhuman if the government unilaterally stopped the assistance to the refugees.
In their letter, the refugee leaders also called the Election Commission to set up polling stations inside the seven relief camps during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
The Election Commission had set up 15 special polling stations at Kanhmun, a village along the Mizoram-Tripura border, facilitating polling by 12,018 voters among over 35,000 tribal immigrants, to vote in the November 28 Assembly polls in Mizoram.
According to an official of the Tripura Relief and Revenue Department, over Rs 370 crore has been spent on the relief packages.