An indefinite shutdown has been called in northern Tripura’s Kanchanpur subdivision as a protest against the state government’s decision to rehabilitate thousands of tribal refugees, who had fled from Mizoram 23 years ago following ethnic violence. The local authorities had imposed restrictions on assembly in the area after the refugees allegedly attacked 36 houses of non-tribals on Tuesday.
The shutdown has been called by the Joint Movement Committee — an outfit comprising local Bengalis and Mizo people in Kanchanpur. They say the arrival of the refugees will disturb the ethnic harmony in the area.
A large contingent of security troops from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Tripura State Rifles (TSR) has been deployed to deal with the situation, police sources said.
On Wednesday, a man was seriously injured at Laxmipur village in an alleged attack from a Bru refugee, sources added.
Around 12-15 thousand supporters of the JMC defied the restrictions on assembly and organised protest rallies in front of government offices on Wednesday, the police said.
In January this year, an agreement was signed between the government and the Reang community, locally called “Bru”, regarding rehabilitation of 5,400 families in different places of Tripura, including Kanchanpur. They had migrated from Mizoram to Tripura in 1997 following ethnic conflict. The Centre has announced a package of Rs 600 crore for their resettlement.
The Tripura government last year agreed to accept the tribal refugees and promised they will be listed as voters.
According to government sources, the locations and number of refugee family members to be rehabilitated in Kanchanpur sub-division, adjoining Mizoram, is yet to be finalised.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had said in Agartala earlier this year that the process of rehabilitation of the tribal refugees had been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.