Mizoram is the only state which has unconstitutionally declared itself as a Christian State, in Govt websites and documents. No other state has any official religion!
The erstwhile king of Tripura, Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya, who ruled the state before it merged with the Indian Union on October 15, 1949, included the Reangs in his official list of the five privileged tribes of Tripura along with the Debbarmans, Jamatyas, Noatias and Halams. Today, the Indian government lists the Reang’s as the lone “primitive group” in the state of Tripura.
The Reangs form the second largest tribal group in Tripura, as well as in the neighboring state of Mizoram. Before the union, their legacy was one of periodic revolts against their princely rulers. They have always sought to distinguish themselves from the other major tribes.
Scholarly opinion varies on the arrival of Reangs in Tripura. Until the 20th century, the tribes of Tripura were thought to have parted ways from the Bodo ethnic group in the state of Assam, which slowly made its way into Tripura during the 8th or 9th century before setting up a full-fledged kingdom by the 15th century.
But the Reangs trace their own roots to the legendary Hindu saint Kashyapa and a myth regarding their arrival into the Chittagong Hill Tracts of southeastern Bangladesh and through waves of migration from the Arakan region of Myanmar (Burma). The Reangs’ claim to an identity distinct from that of other ethnic groups in the region is based on the fact that they prefer to call themselves Brus, not Boroks, and their language Kai bru, not Kokborok, which is the lingua franca among tribes-people in Tripura.
So on the eve of the last census, which was held in February 2001, when a banned tribal separatist outfit, the National Liberation Front of Tripura (N.L.F.T.), issued a diktat that all tribes-people in Tripura must uniformly register themselves as Borok people and their language as Kokborok in order to demonstrate or prove a single ethnic identity, the Reangs resisted. Clashes ensued between the N.L.F.T and the Bru National Liberation Front (B.N.L.F.), the Reang-dominated rebel outfit. The feud resulted in the death of twelve B.N.L.F. activists in a pre-emptive strike by their rivals.
Tension increased when the Bru National Union, a political party of Reangs, or Brus, formed in the early 90’s, demanded autonomy within Mizoram. There was a tough response from the Mizo Students’ Federation (M.Z.P.): “If the Reangs wanted to divide or disintegrate Mizoram further, it would be better that they go away. The demand for an Autonomous District Council could not be accepted by Mizos.” The M.Z.P. further warned that since Mizoram is the only land Mizos have, it could not be lost to “foreigners or other communities.”
In October, an estimated 35,000 panic-stricken Reangs fled into northern Tripura.
As reported in Bangalore’s Deccan Herald (Aug. 17, 2003): “The Reangs, second largest tribal group of Mizoram, had long been demanding setting up of an Autonomous District Council (ADC) based on the 6th Schedule of the (Indian) Constitution in Reang-dominated areas of Southern Mizoram. The demand had been raised under the banner of a new party called Reang Democratic Party (R.D.P.). Long accustomed to treating Reangs as ‘bonded laborers and slaves’, the majority Mizo tribesmen have looked upon the Reang demand with deep hostility.”
The Reangs who fled to Mizoram in October 1997, alleged facing intimidation, repression and targeted attacks that followed the killing of 10 Reangs in September, allegedly by Mizo hardliners. The influx continued unabated, particularly after the murder of a Mizo forest warden, allegedly by the Bru National Liberation Front.
Bru leaders also alleged that their cultural practices were being thwarted and that they were being forced to adopt Mizo names and Mizo languages as their medium of instruction, instead of the native Kokborok. The names of about 20,000 Reangs were deleted from the electoral rolls.
45,000 Reangs hounded by Church to rootless existence
Mizoram has shut its doors to any possible return of over 45,000 Reang migrants who had to flee to neighbouring Tripura and Assam to escape mainly Christian missionary-backed atrocities and forcible conversions. Ironically, the national and international media and different political parties, which are crying themselves hoarse following clashes between Hindu and Christian tribals in Gujarat, have conveniently ignored the plight of the hapless Reangs tribals who are languishing in different makeshift camps of remote areas in Tripura and Assam. Similarly, the rape of a nun in Jhabua and Baripada makes international headlines while rape of over a dozen Reang tribal women does not even prick the conscience of either the media or society at large. Leave alone a solution, even awareness of the plight of hundreds of tribal refugees barely surviving under inhuman conditions in camps for the past one-and-a-half-year is missing. In fact, the root cause of the migration was the direct offshoot of socio-political consequences of mass conversion by Christian missionaries since the mid-nineties. Incidentally, Mizoram is a Christian majority State. Large-scale conversions triggered ethnic conflict leading to migration of Reangs from Mizoram to Tripura and Assam, who have since been languishing in different make-shift camps and demanding safe return and rehabilitation to their ancestral homeland. Bru (a derogatory term for Reang in Mizoram) National Union President Saibunga said in Silchar recently, "We are being persecuted by Mizos since we strongly opposed conversions. Mizoram is a Christian dominated State and they want everybody to become Christian. Even the Chakmas are facing persecution. Minorities are not at all safe in Mizoram. Since we raised our voice against the forcible conversions, we were driven away." Reang refugees seem to be caught in a no man's land. Persecuted in Mizoram, which they call their homeland, they are now living under inhuman conditions in refugee camps in neighbouring Assam and Tripura since October 1997. And, there seems to be no end to their woes in sight, with the new Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga categorically stating that Reangs are residents of Tripura and not his State. This declaration truly seems to have put the process of repatriation of refugees in a deadlock.