Many Brus to miss voting in Mizoram, campaign ends

Vanlalruata, president of NGO Co-ordination Committee, Mizoram. DH Photo/ Puia Changgte.

As the campaign for Wednesday's Assembly elections concluded, a forum of Bru refugees from Mizoram on Monday said many of them would miss casting their votes owing to Election Commission's 'failure' in allowing them to vote in relief camps in neighbouring Tripura.

Over 32, 000 Bru refugees had fled their homes in Mizoram's Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts in 1997 following an ethnic clash. Of these, 12,014 are voters.
 
The Election Commission has opened 15 polling stations at Kanhmun village in South Mizoram's Mamit district bordering Tripura, following strong protests by influential NGOs in Mizoram against its move to allow the Bru refugees to vote in relief camps like 2013.
 
"We tried to convince all to cast their votes but not all can travel 60-km to 75-km. There are aged voters, pregnant women, lactating mothers and physically challenged voters who cannot travel so far to vote. Many others can't move out as they have to take care of their children at home. So we had requested the Election Commission to allow all to vote in relief camps but our pleas were turned down owing to protests in Mizoram," Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) general secretary Bruno Msha told DH over the phone from Tripura.
 
"Besides there are more than 5,000 Bru voters who have not yet been enrolled in the electoral rolls. So they will also not be able to vote this time," he said.
 
The Election Commission was forced to replace Chief Electoral Officer, Mizoram SB Shashank with Ashish Kundra, following strong protests by NGO co-codination committee, Mizoram. The NGOs forced the removal of Shashank for his alleged move to allow Brus vote in their relief camps in Tripura and to enroll some others whom they suspect to be illegal migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. Brus allege that they face discrimination from the majority Christians (97%) as they are Hindus.
 
Kundra told DH on Monday that chief electoral office, Tripura would make transportation facilities for the Bru voters. "Voting in the pollings stations set up for the Brus are expected to be over by 12.30pm. We have put up banners to welcome them and elaborate security arrangements would be in place."
 
BJP, having no MLA at present, is contesting in 39 of the 40 seats with eyes on Bru and Chakma (Buddhist) voters in at least four constituencies. The ruling Congress and MNF too have fielded their candidates in the Bru and Chakma-majority seats.
 

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Many Brus to miss voting in Mizoram, campaign ends

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