The Home Ministry of Government of India along with State Governments of Tripura and Mizoram and Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum has signed the agreement on permanent rehabilitation of persecuted Bru community in Tripura State. According to the agreement, it has been decided that the Bru refugees living in Tripura will not be sent back to Mizoram, but will be settled in Tripura. The agreement has led to an overall satisfaction atmosphere in the Bru community of Tripura-Mizoram. Because of this agreement, about 37,000 Brus who were forced to flee from Mizoram's Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts to Tripura in 1997 will be benefited.
The agreement had been signed after the consistent oppose from Bru community to resettle in Mizoram State. Because of frequent persecution incidents and neglected by Mizoram State Government, the Bru community lost the faith in the Christian Faith machinery. The Tripura Government had even gone to the extent of stopping their food supply for refusing to go back to Mizoram, but the Bru refugees didn’t budge. In the ninth round of repatriation efforts by the Union Home Ministry that started in October 2019, less than a thousand people had moved back, out of total 33,000 people living in camps in Tripura. In earlier efforts, only a small number of people had gone back. As a result, the Bru community lost their own land and resettled in another State.
After the Kashmiri Pandits, Bru is the second Hindu community who were living as refugees for the past two decades in India. The difference in the stand of the both Hindu communities, after persecution, Kashmiri Pandits is still ready to resettle in Muslim-majority Kashmir which is now Union Territory, while after persecution; Bru community denied resettlement in Christian-majority Mizoram State.
Why Brus fled from Mizoram to Tripura?
In 1995, Young Mizo Association and Mizo Students' Association demanded the exclusion of Brus from the electoral rolls claiming that they were not indigenous to Mizoram. This triggered a political and militant movement led by the Bru National Union (BNU) and Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) respectively. The Brus demanded the creating of an autonomous council - a demand vociferously rejected by Mizos.
In 1997, the violence against Bru community in Mizoram had started after Bru National Liberation Front's militants killed a Mizo Forest Official.
In the same year, the violence against Brus too aggressive when the community demanded a separate land like other Northeast communities like one of the most popular Naga community. After the demand, series of robbery, arson, murder and rape began. The Mizos started the violence like burning up houses, villages, agricultural fields and killing of cattle.
Following the tension, around 5,000 families comprising around 30,000 Bru tribals were forced to flee Mizoram and seek shelter in Tripura. These people were housed in temporary camps at Kanchanpur in North Tripura.
The Bru are the followers of an indigenous faith, animistic in nature, with some traits of Hinduism. The dominant religion in the State of Mizoram is Christianity, and the people living in this area are overtly or covertly followed Christianity. According to the Census 2011, about 87 % population follows to Christianity.
One of the secondary causes of the violence was mainly based on environmental in nature. The Mizo Christian group who were instrumental in setting up the dam and other projects in the forest land in traditional Bru areas. The Bru tribal vehemently opposed the projects and demanding separate land. The Brus appealed the Mizos not to encroach their land. Eventually, it turned in to an ethnic clash. When the dominant Mizos try to restrict the Bru’s economic, cultural and political activities in the name of development, ethnic clashes erected.