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2 die in Bru relief camp

By Correspondent

AGARTALA, Nov 2 - Tension gripped Kanchanpur subdivision in Tripura after two Bru inmates, including a two-year-old child, died at a relief camp, allegedly due to starvation.

Meanwhile, the indefinite road blockade staged by Bru refugees between Dasda and Ananda Bazar demanding resumption of free rations and cash dole for them, entered its third day today.

As a precautionary measure, the administration has imposed Section 144 in and around the State Government-owned food godown at Ananda Bazar as refugees have threatened to loot foodgrains if they were denied free rations.

Two-year-old Chante Reang and a 60-year-old woman identified as Malte Reang allegedly died of starvation in the Naisingpara relief camp on Friday, triggering an outrage among the refugees.

Though Bruno Mshe, a refugee leader, claimed that they died of starvation, the administration maintained that the cause of death has not been ascertained as yet.

�We cannot say that the deaths were caused by starvation as we are yet to receive the post-mortem reports. Despite the indefinite road blockade by the refugees demanding restoration of free rations, the situation is under control,� Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Kanchanpur, Abhedananda Baidya, said over phone.

PTI adds from Aizawl: The Mizoram Bru Displaced People�s Forum (MBDPF) has alleged that the two inmates of the relief camp died of �starvation� after the Centre �stopped providing free ration and cash-dole� to the inmates of the relief camps from last month after the ninth round of repatriation commenced on October 3.

MBDPF vice president R Laldawngliana said that Ramjoy Reang (65) of Asapara relief camp also �fell ill on Friday because of starvation�.

The agitation by the Bru refugees has forced the Mizoram Government to discontinue the repatriation process.

Officials said that 216 Bru families have returned to Mizoram from the relief camps since October 3 and the repatriation is scheduled to be completed by November 30. They also alleged that the �anti-repatriation elements have been instigating the agitation and hindering the process�.

The repatriation process was undertaken to bring back 4,447 Bru families living in the Tripura relief camps since 1997. The Centre has approved of Rs 350 crore for the ninth phase of repatriation and the amount covers transportation and rehabilitation package, which includes Rs 5,000 per month for each resettled Bru family in Mizoram and free rations for them for two years.

The vexed Bru problem started when the Bru people led by the Bru National Union demanded a separate autonomous district council by carving out areas of western Mizoram adjoining Bangladesh and Tripura in September, 1997. The situation was aggravated by the murder of a forest guard in the Dampa Tiger Reserve in western Mizoram by Bru National Liberation Front insurgents on October 21, 1997.

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