Agartala: In search of food and work, around 160 tribals from 46 families from Assam have taken shelter in Tripura, officials said here Friday.
The group belongs to the Reang tribe, usually residents of Bhairabi, Karimganj district, in south Assam.
“The tribal refugees took shelter in three northern Tripura villages. They have constructed makeshift houses by collecting bamboo and wood illegally from the forest,” North Tripura Additional District Magistrate Ranjit Kumar Kar told reporters.
Refugee leader Binod Reang told reporters that in their villages in Assam there was a severe crisis, and food and work were hard to come by.
More tribals are expected to move out of Assam in search of livelihood. “Over 200 tribal families would soon come to Tripura looking for jobs and food. We have been facing huge food shortage,” Reang said.
North Tripura District Magistrate Prasanta Kumar Goel told IANS over phone that a team of officials has been sent to remote villages to ascertain the facts and understand what was prompting the tribals’ migration from Assam.
Meanwhile, since October 1997, over 41,000 Reang tribal refugees, locally called Bru, have taken shelter in six camps in north Tripura’s Kanchanpur sub-division, adjacent to western Mizoram.
The earlier wave of migrants from Mizoram was fleeing ethnic clashes after a Mizo forest official was killed.
Though some of those refugees have since returned to their villages in Mizoram, the repatriation of 36,000 Reang tribal evacuees from Tripura to Mizoram is hanging in balance as most of the tribals are unwilling to return without a written agreement with the Mizoram government on their safety, security and livelihood.