TWO HISTORIC AGREEMENTS IN THE NORTH-EAST

TWO HISTORIC AGREEMENTS IN THE NORTH-EAST

February 6, 2020 0 By Rajesh Agrawal

Even as the false narrative about the Citizenship Amendment Act
(CAA) and the agitation seeking its withdrawal continue to be flamed by
a minority of individuals, the Narendra Modi Government has been
silently going about its task in resolving long-pending issues pertaining
to minorities and ethnic conflicts in the North-East.  
While the CAA has been grabbing the headlines, the Union Home
Minister, Shri Amit Shah has presided over the signing of two
significant accords to end the 50-year old Bodo problem and the 23-year
old issue of the rehabilitation of the Bru-Reangs in Tripura.
The ethnic conflict concerning the Bodos has claimed over 4000 lives
thus far, but with the recent agreement, a permanent solution has been
found for the problem. As per a historic agreement between
Government of India, Government of Assam and Bodo
representatives, the Centre has committed itself to a Rs 1500 crore
development package to develop specific projects in the Bodo areas. In
return, about 1500 armed cadres will abjure violence and join the
mainstream. The Government has said after the agreement that a
comprehensive and final solution has been found for the demands put
forth by the Bodos. Now, after long years of conflict, the Bodo factions
will leave the path of violence, surrender weapons and disband their
organisations. The Centre and the Assam Government will take steps to
rehabilitate over 1500 of these cadres.      
Just a few days prior to this historic Bodo accord, the Home Minister,
Mr.Amit Shah presided over the signing of an agreement in New Delhi
between the Union Government and the Governments of Tripura and
Mizoram and representatives of the Bru-Reangs to bring to an end a 23-
year old crisis of these refugees. This agreement enables the permanent
settlement of the Bru-Reangs in Tripura and the rehabilitation package
will cost Rs 600 crore.

The issue of the Bru-Reang refugees had been a festering problem for 23
years. It had its origin in the ethnic tensions that erupted in Mizoram in
1997 when around 5000 families comprising around 30,000 persons
fled that state and took refuge in Tripura. These people were housed in
temporary camps in North Tripura. As the problem of the displaced
tribals persisted, some efforts were made since 2010 to rehabilitate the
Bru-Reangs. Out of the 5000 families, about 1600 families were sent
back to Mizoram and the Union Government took the initiative to assist
the Tripura and Mizoram Governments. The Modi Government’s first
major initiative came in July, 2018 when the Governments signed an
agreement which resulted in enhancing the assistance given to these
families. Subsequently, 328 families comprising 1369 persons returned
to Mizoram. However, thereafter, the Bru tribals wanted a solution
which would enable them to settle permanently in Tripura. They felt
they would be more secure in that state. 
The latest agreement will benefit about 34,000 Bru-Reangs who are
livings in six camps in Tripura.
According to the Tribal Research and Cultural Institute, Tripura, the
Reangs are the second largest tribal community in Tripura and are
recognised as one of the 75 primitive tribes in India.   It is said that the
Reangs came from the Shan state of Myanmar, first to the Chittagong
Hill Tracts and then to Tripura. There was also another group which
came to Tripura via Assam and Mizoram during the 18th century.
The institute says the Reangs have a population of 1.88 lakh and are
divided into two major clans –Meska and Molsoi. They are still a
nomadic tribe and a large number of them depend on hilltop Jhum
cultivation. Their language is known as Kaubru. A good percentage of
them are followers of Vaishnavism.  The Reangs’ folk life and culture
have outstanding cultural components. The most popular of which is the
Hozagiri dance with “melodious tune of flute”.
Apart from the Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah, others present at this
historic signing ceremony were the Tripura Chief Minister Shri Biplab
Kumar Deb, Mizoram Chief Minister Shri Zoramthanga, North-East
Democratic Alliance Chairman Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma, the scion of
the Tripura royal family Shri Pradyot Kishore Debbarma and the Bru
representatives.

As per this agreement, each of the Bru families living in Tripura will be
given a plot of land, a fixed deposit of Rs 4 lakhs, Rs 5000 cash per
month for two years, free ration for two years and another Rs 1.5 lakhs
to build their house. The land will be provided by the Government of
Tripura.
The Home Ministry began serious efforts to end the problem faced by
the Bru tribals when Mr.Amit Shah decided to bring the two state
Governments and the Bru people together some months ago. He also got
the King of Tripura and different tribal groups to support the initiative to
settle the Bru people in Tripura itself rather than attempt their
rehabilitation in Mizoram. As Shri Shah said after the agreement was
signed recently, this is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Sabka
Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas” policy and his emphasis of
resolving long pending issues in the North-East.
Both these agreements show the keenness of the Narendra Modi
Government to resolve long-pending issues in the North-East to take
those states on the high road to development.
However, oblivious of these positive initiatives in the North-East, a
minority of malcontents continue to agitate over non issues.