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The Mizoram government is going ahead with its programme to relocate Reang tribals, who fled to neighbouring Tripura after ethnic clashes 13 years ago, an official said Saturday, but the tribals continued to resist the move.

Over 41,600 Reang tribals, locally called Bru, have been living in six camps in north Tripura’s Kanchanpur sub-division since October 1997. They fled western Mizoram after ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos following the killing of a Mizo forest official.

Reang refugee tribals are anxious about situation back home, and had earlier demanded an eight-point rehabilitation package, including formation of autonomous district council in Mizoram, and reservation for them in government jobs and state assembly.

“Out of 41,600 tribal refugees, 400 refugees returned to their homes since Nov 3,” a Tripura government official told reporters at Kanchanpur, some 185 km north of Agartala.

The Tripura government is providing logistical assistance to Mizoram’s relocation programme.

“When 66 families were ready to go back home late Friday, hundreds of other refugees put up a blockade on the Tripura-Mizoram highway, protesting non-settlement of their eight-point demands,” he said.

“Police arrested 655 protesters and cleared the blockade. Subsequently, 48 refugee families left Tripura for their homes,” the Tripura official added.

The refugees had organised a rally last month to protest the Mizoram government’s inaction. They had also sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding early solution of the ethnic imbroglio.

During his visit to Aizawl in May, Home Minister P. Chidambaram had asked the Mizoram government and the tribal leaders to sort out the matter.

According to Mizoram officials, the state government would provide Rs.80,000 to each repatriated family for house building and farming, free rations for a year, financial assistance for their ‘jhum’ (slash and burn) cultivation, and adequate security.

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