"Don't Let People Die": SC Pulls Up Centre Over Ration Supply To Mizoram Bru Refugees

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SC asked the Centre to explain within two weeks why it has stopped the supply of ration to Bru refugees in relief camps in Tripura that led to starvation deaths

Written By Aishwaria Sonavane | Mumbai | Updated On:

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to explain within two weeks why it has stopped the supply of ration to the Mizoram Bru refugees in seven relief camps in Tripura that led to starvation deaths. The SC bench pulled up the government and asked them to not let "people die" for whatsoever reason.  Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for the Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum apprised the Bench that 40,000 people in seven relief camps in Tripura are affected by the Centre's decision. The Centre stopped the supply of ration from October this year and within one month four children had died, argued Gonsalves.

"Take instructions and tell us in two weeks. Don't do this, whatever is the reason. Don't let people die in this manner," a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde told the Centre. "This petition seeks proper security and proper rehabilitation for the Brus (Reangs), a scheduled tribe constituting the largest minority group in Mizoram, which was subjected to genocide by the militant Mizo organisation in 1995 and 1997, resulting in thousands of Brus fleeing to Tripura and setting up relief camps where 6,000 families reside today. Sporadic incidents of violence against the Brus in Mizoram continue till today," the petitioner said.

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The petition said, 'The Court should direct the Centre to double the quantity of the aforementioned ration supply and improve its quality by including more diverse nutritious commodities such as pulses, oil, etc. To direct the State of Tripura to issue necessary orders for registration of FIRs in the six starvation deaths which have taken place amongst the Bru IDPs at Tripura since October 1 against the officers responsible for withholding the ration supply to the Bru IDPs."

"To constitute a special investigation team comprised of (a) officials from outside the State of Mizoram and Tripura, and not under any administrative control of the Union of India; and (b) an independent nutritional expert, to investigate the aforementioned six starvation deaths in a time-bound manner; to direct that respondents release a compensation of Rs 1 crore each to the family of the six starvation death victims," the petition added. 

The Bru community of Mizoram, also known as the Reangs spread across Mizoram, Tripura, Assam, and Manipur. In 1999, BJP patron LK Advani had contended that the Brus were persecuted because a majority of them belonged to the Hindu community, however, then Mizoram CM Lal Thanhawla had denied the claims. 

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Citizenship Amendment Bill 

To safeguard the persecuted refugees of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to India till December 31, 2014,  Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, which was tabled by Home Minister Amit Shah in the Lok Sabha on December 9. The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from three neighbouring countries, to put an end to them being treated as illegal immigrants in the country.

The Bill was passed by the Lower House of the Parliament earlier this year but lapsed with the term of the previous Lok Sabha during the first term of the PM Narendra Modi government in the Centre.

Amit Shah who met with the several Chief Ministers and politicians from the northeastern state politicians from November 29, has offered to exempt the inner line permit areas in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh and areas falling under the Sixth Schedule in the region from the Bill. The Bill states, "Nothing in this section shall apply to Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, and to the areas covered under the inner line notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873."

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(With ANI inputs) 

By 2030, 40% Indians will not have access to drinking water