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A group of insurgency-induced displacement victims Monday submitted a memorandum to West Tripura District Magistrate Sandeep Namdeo Mahatme and sought ‘Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) status for 6,500 families, who were rendered homeless due to an armed tribal insurgency in the last two decades.

As per the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, people who were forced or obliged to flee their homes or places of habitual residence to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters but did not cross internationally recognized State borders are termed as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP).

Speaking to reporters, West Tripura and Sepahijala District Udbastu Unnayan Committee secretary Sajal Podder said that insurgents who sought to secede Tripura from Indian Union were granted rehabilitation packages upon surrendering arms. However, those whose lives were affected due to insurgency have been homeless for the last two decades.

“If the insurgents can be granted rehabilitation packages, why not us? We didn’t commit any crime. We are homeless since 2000. We want the government to grant housing benefits to all of us,” Podder said.

He also informed that the erstwhile CPI (M)-led Left Front government provided housing to 202 families who lost their homes in armed insurgency along with some cash assistance.

“We want the government to ensure proper rehabilitation facilities and Rs 5 lakh one-time cash compensation to each family which were displaced due to insurgency. We also demand that families rendered homeless due to armed insurgency should be granted the status of refugees,” Sajal Podder said.

Over 6,500 non-tribal families have been displaced due to armed insurgency and ethnic clashes in different parts of Tripura since 1980. Some of them were displaced more than once due to insurgency or development projects. At least 237 families among them have been rehabilitated so far. 55 families, which got their new homes at Udbastu Gopal Colony, have their ancestral homes at Gabardi, Takarjala, Jampuijala and Mandwai villages, which faced severe brunt of ethnic clashes.

Earlier in 2017, the erstwhile Left Front government allotted them a colony of nearly 70 thousand square ft area at South Narayanpur village in Mohanpur sub-division of West Tripura. The colony was occupied by 55 refugee families this month. Every family was given entitlement of a small plot of 840 square ft with provisions for a small room and a makeshift toilet.