Bru-Reang refugee crisis

With the country protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019. The Act seeks to amend the definition of an illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation. They will be granted fast track Indian citizenship in six years. So far 12 years of residence has been the standard eligibility requirement for naturalization.

The oppressed migrant who is entitled to receive the citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Bill can reside in any state of the country. Currently, the Constitution of India provides for citizenship by naturalization for:

  • People who have lived in India for the past 12 months and for 11 of the past 14 years.
  • It also provides for people whose parents or grandparents were born in India to become Indian citizens.
Bru-Reang refugee crisis

Assam Gana Parishad has threatened to withdraw its support with BJP if the bill is passed. The bill is opposed by NGOs like Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and students’ organization All Assam Students’ Union. The political parties like Congress and All India United Democratic Front have opposed the idea of granting citizenship to an individual on the basis of religion. Further, they argued that if the bill is passed and made an act the updated National Registration of Citizenship (NRC) will become invalid.

The view of the parties and activist are that inherent person will lose its cultural and Linguistic identity and these are the reasons they are opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Mizoram and other northeastern states, which have a diverse inherent community, have persuaded the government not to table the new citizenship bill, saying it will open a “floodgate” of illegal immigrants in the state.

Days after Union home minister Amit Shah announced that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would be brought in parliament again, protests were held in Manipur, Nagaland and Meghalaya. The Nagaland and North East Forum of Indigenous People (NEFIP) claimed that it would seek the United Nations’ intervention if the Centre implements the Bill.

Bru-Reang refugee crisis

Northeast protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Across the country, the Hindu refugee community is celebrating the move of the government. The northeast remains on the brink as Guwahati (Assam) has become a command post for anti-CAB protest. The people of northeast are concern that the demography of the state would change if it is passed as people of different cultures and languages will get citizenship of the country. Since the northeast is already protesting against Bangladeshi immigrants.

Exemptions under Citizenship Bill 2019

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill exempts certain areas in the North-East from this provision. It would not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. This effectively means that Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram along with almost whole of Meghalaya and parts of Assam and Tripura would stay out of the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Bru-Reang refugee crisis

A new bill passed by Shri. Amit Shah gives relief to bru-reang refugees. The agreement is likely to help the BJP win the trust of tribal in the northeast at a time when the party is facing constant protests against the controversial citizenship law. Homeless for years and could not get recognized by the Assam or Tripura government. With the bill being passed they would now have relief and be recognized. The agreement is now known as a historic agreement.  They were given aid worth 600 crores for the development and housing facilities to them. According to the agreement, those willing to go back to Mizoram can go and the rest can stay in Tripura. They have to stay in either of the states. He said a large quantum of land would be required to rehabilitate these 34,000 people and it would take at least six months,” said Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb.

The Brus–spread across Tripura, Mizoram and parts of southern Assam–are the most populous tribe in Tripura. Also known as Reangs in the state, they are ethnically different from the Mizos, with their own distinct language and dialect and form one of the 21 scheduled tribes of Tripura.

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for solving the 23-year-old problem, he said many initiatives were taken to send the Brus back to Mizoram, but only 350 families could be repatriated.

Bru-Reang refugee crisis

What the agreement says

Under the new agreement, the Bru refugees will be settled in Tripura. They will get all the rights that the residents of the state enjoy, including social welfare schemes of both Centre and state governments. The Home Minister informed that under the new arrangement, each of the displaced families would be entitled to the following benefits.

The highlights of the agreement:

  1. Under the agreement, the Centre has announced a package of Rs. 600 crore.
  2. As per the agreement, the Bru tribes would be given land to reside in Tripura.
  3. A fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakh will be given to each family as an amount of government aid. They will be able to withdraw this amount after two years.
  4. Each of the displaced families will be given 40×30 sq. ft residential plots.
  5. Apart from them, each family will be given Rs. 5,000 cash per month for two years.
  6. The agreement highlights that each displaced family will also be given free ration for two years and aid of Rs. 1.5 lakh to build their houses.

This agreement will bring a permanent solution for the rehabilitation of thousands of Bru-Reang people in Tripura. The government believes that this agreement will bring a bright future for them. Bru-Reang people will be able to enjoy the benefits of all social-welfare schemes of governments.

Bru-Reang refugee crisis

Background and issues

In 1997, following ethnic tension, around 5,000 families comprising around 30,000 Bru-Reang tribals were forced to flee Mizoram and seek shelter in Tripura. These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura.

Since 2010, the Government of India has been making sustained efforts to permanently rehabilitate these refugees. The Union government has been assisting the two-State governments for taking the care of the refugees. Till 2014, 1622 Bru-Reang families returned to Mizoram in different batches.

In 2018, an agreement was signed between the Union government, the two-State governments and representatives of Bru-Reang refugees, as a result of which the aid given to these families was increased substantially.

Subsequently, 328 families comprising of 1369 individuals returned to Mizoram under the agreement. There had been a sustained demand of most Bru-Reang families that they may be allowed to settle down in Tripura, considering their apprehensions about their security.