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Reang refugees talk to Mizoram, MHA officials

Correspondent, Agartala, India
In first ever direct initiative high level meetings held at Mizoram state capital Aizawl to solve the imbroglio over repatriation of thousands of Reang refugees stranded in north Tripura. The dialogues involving refugee leaders, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Mizoram government officials was held in wake of Congress central leaders assuring the Reangs also known as Brus of beneficial measures as to wooing them to vote for the party in recent Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.  

“The first meeting was tripartite, followed by a meeting between MHA and Mizoram government officials”, Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples' Forum (MBDPF) president Elvis Chorkhy informed by phone from Aizawl. He said there would be another meeting between the Bru leaders and the MHA officials late in the evening.

Chorkhy ushered hope that tomorrow they would be in a position to share positive aspect of the meetings held in a very coordinal atmosphere.  

Earlier a three member of MBDPF team reached Aizawl for the meetings with MHA Secretary, Border Management, Vinay Kumar, Joint Secretary, Northeast Desk, Navin Verma. Leaders of Bru militants who already surrendered to the Mizoram government were also present in the crucial dialogue which would ultimately pave return of some 32,000 refugees to homesteads.  

However the number of refugees itself has been bone of contention in all past efforts to end the stalemate. Mizoram government insisted actual number would not go beyond 20,000 and the rest infiltrated in the camps from various locations to get benefit as refugees housed in six makeshift camps.  

But for Mizoram may fail to carry forward hitherto claim as the election commission endorsed voting right of over 12,000 evacuees and they already voted for candidates in lone Lok Sabha constituency of Mizoram. The refugee crisis was fallout of ethnic violence in Mizoram that saw India's one of biggest internal displacement in October 1997.  

”Several issues were discussed in the meetings, but repatriation and rehabilitation of the refugees were the centre points. We can wait for a good outcome”, MBDPF president Elvis Chorkhy added. Chorkhy said the refugees expect a very positive approach from incumbent Mizoram government as they overwhelmingly voted in favour of Congress party.  

MHA officials Vinay Kumar and Navin Verma would visit Tuipuibari a Reang tribe dominated area inside Mizoram to assess the situation there firsthand.    April 28, 2009