Guwahati: Young Mizo Association (YMA), an influential youth organisation in Mizoram, has asked Bru voters living in Tripura relief camps to return to their homeland and cast votes in their respective constituencies. The Brus, however, are unwilling to do so.
Speaking to News 18, YMA president Vanlalruata said the Brus should be treated like ordinary voters, and no special arrangements should be made for them this time to exercise franchise at a chosen place. Nearly 12,000 Bru refugees, lodged in six relief camps of Tripura, travelled to Kahnmun in Mamit district of Mizoram to cast their vote for November 28 Assembly polls last year.
“No one is stopping the Brus from coming to Mizoram, no one is harassing them. Let them come and vote in their respective places of origin, not one special place. It’s not about distance – if a Mizo stays in Delhi, he will be travelling to his home state to exercise franchise. The Bru community should be treated the same like ordinary voters,” said Pu Ruata who believes that repatriation of Bru refugees has been a failed exercise.
On the other hand, Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Forum (MBDPF), a committee of Bru refugees, has decided to write to the Election Commission of India (ECI) through the ministry of home affairs to let them vote at a special polling booth arranged within the relief camps.
Speaking to News 18, MBPDF secretary Bruno Msha said they were not satisfied with the arrangements made at Kahnmun the last time.
“We may not be able to go to our villages. If the resolution adopted by the NGOs is accepted by the ECI, we have no problem, but Mizoram will see a low voter turnout from the Bru community. We had faced a lot of problems at Kahnmun – food, transport and logistics. Many of the buses broke down. We have cast our vote in relief camps in the past, and we would request the ECI to let us vote here itself.”
Meanwhile, a total of 15 temporary polling stations have been set up exclusively for Bru voters in Kahnmun village along the Mizoram-Tripura border -- nine for Mamit district and three each for Kolasib and Lunglei districts. A total of 5,955 Bru electors living in transit camps will be voting in Mamit, while 11,941 Brus would be casting their votes in Kolasib and Lunglei districts.
After at least eight failed attempts of repatriation, the refugees are now waiting for the Mizo National Front (MNF) government led by Zoramthanga to initiate fresh talks and address their long standing demands. Over 32,000 Bru people have been living in six temporary camps in North Tripura district since 1997 after they were forced to flee ethic violence in Mizoram. The Bru Hindus constitute 60 per cent of the refugee population in Tripura.