Mizoram's tribal refugees seek to know electoral status

AIZAWL / AGARTALA:

The first-time voters from among the 35,000 tribal immigrants from Mizoram, sheltered in Tripura for the past 21 years, do not know whether their names have been included in the final electoral rolls published in Mizoram on Friday, refugee leaders said on Saturday.

"We are not sure if the names of new voters from among immigrants were included in the final rolls for the Lok Sabha polls. We are trying to contact the authorities to know about this," Bruno Msha, General Secretary, Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF), said at Kanchanpur in northern Tripura.

Around 12,018 voters from among the over 35,000 Reang tribal immigrants were enrolled in the electoral list of Mizoram till last year and 60 per cent of them cast votes in the November 28 Mizoram Assembly polls. "Over 6,000 more people are eligible for enrolment in as first-time voters," the tribal leader said.

The Mizoram Election Department officials said eligible candidates with proper residential proof of the Mizoram government would certainly have their names included in the voters' list.

The final electoral rolls, pulished by Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer Ashish Kundraon, the total number of 7,84,748 electorates, comprises 14,032 new voters and 4,02,408 women.

"We cannot confirm at the moment how many names from among the Reang tribal refugees (sheltered in seven Tripura camps) have been included in the electoral list," a Mizoram Election Department official said.

Kundra said: "Just like last year's Assembly polls, polling stations would be set up in Kanhmun to help voters from among the tribal immigrants cast votes in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. But the Election Commission is yet to make a final decision."

Fifteen special polling stations were set up at Kanhmun, a village along the Mizoram-Tripura border, to facilitate voting by the tribal refugees during the Mizoram Assembly polls.

Following an agreement signed in Delhi in July 2018, supply of grain and relief materials to the Reang tribal immigrants was to be stopped from October 1 to compel tribal refugees to return to their respective villages in Mizoram.

However, following an appeal by the refugees, the supply was extended by the Union Home Ministry till March 3.

According to an official of the Tripura Relief and Revenue Department, over Rs 370 crore has been spent on relief packages.

Over 35,000 Reang tribal refugees, comprising 5,907 families, have been staying in Tripura's Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions for the past 21 years following ethnic tension after a Mizo forest official was killed in the neighbouring state.