India: 400 Houses Torched As Ethnic Tension Builds Up

Mritunjay, BrooWaha, November 16, 2009

As the central government and the state governments were trying to negotiate the return of more than 30,000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) from the North-Eastern state of Mizoram, killing of a Mizo

Ethnic tension has spiraled up in India’s North-Eastern state of Mizoram after a Mizo youth named Zarzokima, aged 18, was murdered by the by militants belonging to the Bru National Army. Since then suspected Mizo groups have burnt down nearly 400 houses belonging to Bru people. Thatch and bamboo is used as the primary roofing material for houses in these tribal areas.

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The Mizoram government on Monday issued a shoot-on-sight order at Bungthuam and neighbouring villages in the state’s western parts, which have been on the boil following last week’s murder of a Mizo youth allegedly by suspected Bru militants.

“The shoot-on-sight order has been issued to contain the ethnic strife at Bru-dominated villages in the Bungthuam area near the state’s border with Tripura,” Mizoram home minister R Lalzirliana said here. (Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com)

Fearing backlash, as many as 300 Bru families in these areas have already crossed over to neighboring Tripura since the time the first arson was reported.

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The history of clashes between Bru tribes and Mizos is not new. In fact after a major strife in 1997-98, the Brus had created the militant front called Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram (BLFM). The bloody strife was expected to end when 802 militants of BLFM had surrendered in October 2006. The mass surrender followed an agreement reached between the Indian government and the Bru rebels in 2005 after the central government announced a financial package of Rs. 286.5 million for the repatriation of the tribal refugees from Tripura to Mizoram.

The state government has been in the process of making elaborate plans to repatriate over 35,000 Bru refugees since then who had escaped to Tripura after the strife first broke out in 1997. Meanwhile political leaders from the Reang community are busy fishing in the troubled waters.

The tripartite meeting held in Aizawl Nov 4 between representatives of the central and Mizoram governments and tribal refugees failed to resolve the 12-year deadlock to repatriate 35,000 Reang migrants from Tripura to Mizoram.

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Nearly 30 militant groups operate in North East India and these struggles have left more than 50,000 dead in six of the seven North East states since 1947 when India got her independence. The demand of such groups ranges from creation of autonomous regions to right of self-determination.

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