Internally displaced Bru tribals from Mizoram have been living as refugees in Tripura since 1997 after facing ethnic cleansing and religious persecution from extremist Christian Mizos. In Mizoram, Brus are also known as Reangs. Last month, the Union Government signed an agreement with Governments of Tripura and Mizoram and Bru-Reang representatives in New Delhi, to end the 23-year old Bru-Reang refugee crisis.
The new deal was signed after many in the Bru community did not want to return to their old homes in Mizoram, in accordance with the previous agreement signed in July 2018, due to security concerns and because those who had previously returned complained of second-class treatment.
Under the terms of the new agreement, the Bru refugees will be settled in Tripura and a rehabilitation package of Rs. 600 crores has been announced to help with their rehabilitation and other allied expenses to be borne for their development. Each Bru family would be given 40×30 sq.ft. residential plots, plus the aid under earlier agreement of a fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakhs, Rs. 5,000 cash aid per month for 2 years, free ration for 2 years and Rs. 1.5 lakhs aid to build their house.
The deal was signed in the presence of Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah, in addition to other prominent leaders of the North East including Chief Minister of Mizoram, Mr. Zoramthanga, CM of Tripura, Mr. Biplab Kumar Deb, Chairman, NEDA Mr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, and Chairman, TIPRA, Mr. Pradyot Kishore Debbarma.
Not many of us in rest of Bharat have heard of the predominantly Hindu Bru-Reang people from North Eastern state of Mizoram whose persecution was triggered by radical Christian missionaries, leading to their internal displacement within their own country.
In the year 1997 around 5,000 Bru-Reang tribal families residing in Mizoram which comprised of about 30,000 people were forced to flee their state and seek shelter in Tripura. These people were consequently sheltered in temporary camps set up for this specific purpose at Kanchanpur, in North Tripura. Prior to this, there was the adoption of a resolution by the Bru National Union demanding an autonomous district council (ADC) in the wake of concerns that their political, economic and cultural rights were not protected under the existing political arrangement.
According to the Bru leaders of the time, the Bru lost the freedom to practice their indigenous religion & culture, their language was ignored in not only schools but also in day-to-day usage, and the names of about 20,000 Bru-Reangs were deleted from electoral rolls.
Matters worsened when in October 1997 some Mizo youth, predominantly Christian, congregated at Tuipuibari and demanded that all ‘illegal settlers’ of Chakma and Bru community should leave Mizoram within a week and those within Tuipuibari area within twenty-four hours. Following this, a wave of violence followed with agitated Mizos burning Bru houses, which forced many to flee.
In an article written by Nitin A. Gokhale for the Outlook magazine, the author threw light on the persecution of the Bru-Reang and the support this hapless community received from the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) back then. Though the author gave it a skeptical and secular spin, many of the details revealed in the article stand relevant even today.
Gokhale states that this persecution of the Reang peoples would not have attracted much attention if not for the RSS “who got into the act and accused, in its annual report for 1997-98, the Christian missionaries of abetting a terrible spree of looting, burning, killing and raping of Reang tribals in Mizoram because they resisted conversion to Christianity.”
The statement given by Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP or Mizo Students Federation) at the time reveals the real root of the discord – “If you want to divide or disintegrate Mizoram further, it is better that you all go away. If some people cannot adjust themselves under the administration of Mizoram, they can go back to their own states. We have given this land to Christ but we will not budge to the Chakmas and the Reangs.”
The Baptist Church later came out and claimed that they were not behind the violence because ‘90% of the Mizos and 50% of the Reangs are already Christians’. To any man of ordinary prudence, this should seem like a lame excuse. “Who converted all these tribals to Christianity thus destroying their indigenous faiths? And why should we believe that the Church will stop now, with such overwhelming numbers on their side, when their stated aim is to transform the whole world into God’s Kingdom?” are some questions to be asked.
As far as what was being attempted with the remaining Reangs, who follow their indigenous Hindu faith, under the garb of political unrest was as clear as water and it would be like turning a blind eye to the truth if you don’t see it. In January 2017, an organisation called the Bru Hindu Joint Coordination Committee had written to the Union Home Ministry to “safeguard the Hindu religion or indigenous faith of the Bru community in Mizoram.”
Former Governor of Mizoram, Swaraj Kaushal, made a series of tweets on this issue that gives further insight on the condition of the Bru-Reang community. When he served as Governor of Mizoram from 1990-93, he was only 37 years old. Mr. Kaushal is considered an expert on Bharat’s northeast region and its insurgency problem.
In these tweets, he has shared details which makes it clear that the Bru-Reang community stuck to its tribal identity in spite of their suffering, and persecution with the threat of conversion to Christianity looming over them like dark clouds.
Expressing his happiness on the signing of the tripartite agreement between the Bru people and the state governments of Mizoram and Tripura, he emphasised that Brus are traditionally Hindu who inhabit the area along the Tripura-Mizoram border. He added that there are a significant number of Brus along the Bharat-Bangladesh border and in Bangladesh as well, and since the arrival of Christian missionaries in Bharat the Bru people have been targeted by them. After the partition there was widespread persecution of Hindu and Buddhist tribes living in and around Chittagong Hills in erstwhile East Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh.
According to ex-Governor Swaraj, the Dampa area of Mizoram which was inhabited by a majority of Bru and Chakmas (a predominantly Buddhist tribe) was declared a wildlife sanctuary which led to these tribals losing their lands, forest and cattle, forcing them to convert to Christianity to survive. Losing access to basic amenities for survival, the tribals were also forced to send their children to missionary schools which accelerated conversion.
He concluded by lauding Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for facilitating this agreement and recalled the sacrifices made by RSS workers in Tripura for this cause, who laid down their lives to protect the tribal identity & culture.
The fact that the Bru-Reangs had to finally be resettled outside their home state of Mizoram is another demonstration of the hollowness of Indian ‘secularism’. Our current system of Government is actively ‘minoritarian‘ i.e. it discriminates against the majority population which is Hindus, especially the way Articles 26 to 30 of the Constitution have been successively interpreted by courts. The virus of minoritarianism was officially embedded into the country’s body politic by Sonia Gandhi during the UPA-era by creation of Minority Affairs Ministry and other bodies like National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI). Another quirk of this dystopian system is that it denies minority rights of Hindus and tribal religions in states of Bharat with non-Hindu majority, like Mizoram, Nagaland, erstwhile J&K.
Another ugly reality that Indian ‘secularism’ hides is the Christianity-inspired terrorist groups that continue ravaging the North-East. These terror organisations issue genocidal threats to Hindus living in North-East, and no one in Lutyens’ left-liberal media even bats an eyelid.
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