Millennium Post

Tripura to issue Aadhaar cards to over 32,000 Mizoram tribals

More than 32,000 Mizoram tribals staying in seven refugee camps in Tripura for the past two decades will be issued Aadhaar cards by the Tripura government, an official said on Saturday.

An official of the Tripura Relief and Revenue Department said that the Home Ministry had asked the state to provide Aadhaar cards to these tribals to ensure hassle-free government benefits to them.

The process to click photographs of these refugees will begin next week.

"The 12-digit card will be first issued to schoolchildren of the refugees and then all the adults," Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate Santosh Deb told IANS.

The cards will be issued from the offices of Sub-Divisional Magistrates of Kanchanpur and Panisagar.

About 32,900 Reang tribals -- who locally call themselves 'Bru' -- have been living in the makeshift camps in north Tripura's Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions, adjoining Mizoram, since October 1997 after they fled their homes in western Mizoram following ethnic troubles in that state.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, among others, had visited the refugee camps in north Tripura and Mizoram many times and urged both the Mizoram government and the refugees to end the stalemate.

The Supreme Court had earlier directed the Home Ministry and the Mizoram and Tripura governments to jointly work for the return of these tribal refugees to their home state of Mizoram.

"We are ready to return to our homes in Mizoram, but the state's government is reluctant to meet our basic demands, like allotment of land for cultivation," refugee leader Bruno Msha told IANS.

"In several meetings with the Home Ministry and Mizoram government officials in New Delhi and in refugee camps in Tripura, we demanded five hectares of land to each refugee family. However, the Mizoram officials summarily rejected this demand. If we do not have land, how will we survive?" he asked.

A 30-member team of Mizoram officials last year conducted a survey in the refugee camps to identify bona fide residents of Mizoram.

Despite several initiatives by the Mizoram government to bring the refugees back, they have been reluctant till their demands for food and security are met.

The refugees' apex body - Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF) - has been insisting that its three teams be allowed to visit Mizoram districts of Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib to study the situation before they can be rehabilitated there.

Mizoram Home Minister R. Lalzirliana said in Aizawl that the state government will not concede MBDPF's pre-conditions for refugees' repatriation.

"It will be impossible for the Mizoram government to allot five hectares to each tribal family. The repatriated families will also have to wait for allocation of land for construction of houses and for farming in accordance with the guidelines of their respective village councils," the Minister said.

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