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Aizawl: An influential civil society organisation in Mizoram Wednesday said it will obstruct voters of Bru community, who are now living in Tripura, from exercising their franchise in the October 30 by-poll to Tuirial assembly seat in Mizoram if special polling booths are arranged for them.
There are 663 Bru voters in Tuirial assembly constituency who were forced to take shelter in Tripura relief camps after fleeing from Mizoram.
Thousands of Bru people migrated to Tripura fearing ethnic tension triggered by the murder of a Mizo forest guard by the erstwhile Bru militants in 1997.
Central Young Mizo Association (YMA) president Vanlalruata told PTI it has been demanding the deletion of names of voters of the Bru community, who have re-settled in Tripura after an agreement in January last year, from Mizoram’s voter list.
The Bru voters now no longer belong to Mizoram as they refused to return to the state during repatriation, he claimed.
After attempts to repatriate the Brus to their home state failed, the government made arrangements to resettle them in Tripura.
“We strongly oppose any measure for arranging special polling booths for the Bru voters in the upcoming by-poll. However, we are okay if they come to exercise their franchise in their respective polling stations in Mizoram on their own,” he said.
He said that the organisation would stage an obstruction if special polling booths are arranged for the Bru voters. In the past, special voting booths were arranged for them at a place on the Mizoram-Tripura border.
In 2014, civil society groups had staged a 72-hour total shutdown opposing the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to allow Bru refugees to cast their votes through postal ballots from relief camps in North Tripura district, which forced the poll panel to defer the Lok Sabha elections in the tribal state.
Vanlalruata also urged the poll panel to immediately delete names of those Bru voters who did not repatriate as nearly two years have passed since they were allowed to permanently resettle in Tripura.
Recently, political parties in the state had also urged the EC to delete names of those Bru voters from the state’s voter list before the Tuirial by-poll.
Meanwhile, state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) P. Jawahar on Wednesday held a meeting with representatives of NGOs over the Bru voters issue and poll preparedness.
He informed the meeting that the petitions submitted by NGOs and political parties seeking deletion of names of the Bru voters who have not been repatriated have been forwarded to the EC and a response is awaited.
He told PTI that a response from the EC is likely to be received by next week.
According to the agreement signed between the Union government, governments of Mizoram and Tripura, and representatives of Bru organisations on January 16 last year, more than 35,000 displaced Bru tribals, who did not return to Mizoram during repatriation would be resettled in Tripura.
Meanwhile, four candidates are in the fray for the by-poll to the Tuirial assembly seat in Kolasib district.
Kolasib deputy commissioner and district election officer H. Lalthlangliana said none of the four nominees have withdrawn their candidature till Wednesday, the last date of withdrawal.
The ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) has fielded party leader K. Laldawngliana, while former MLA Chalrosanga Ralte is the Congress nominee.
Main opposition party Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) has given a ticket to newly recruited party member Laltlanmawia and the BJP has put up its party spokesperson and former student leader K. Laldinthara.
The by-election has been necessitated following the death of sitting MLA Andrew H. Thangliana of Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) party.