Bru voting begins amid protest by Mizo NGOs
Amid protest from a few Mizoram based NGOs, casting of postal ballots in six Bru refugee camps at Kanchapur of North Tripura has began under tight security today to decide the fate of three contestants.
Altogether 11,600 odd eligible voters of 10 assembly constituencies will exercise their franchise for lone Parliament seat in three days through seven polling desk set up by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to facilitate the voting of the refugees.
According to report, besides 200 polling personnel from both Tripura and Mizoram, more than a thousand of men in uniform have been deployed around the camps.
Special security measure has been taken in all the entry points of the camps and entry points of Mizoram. BSF has made extra deployment across Tripura-Bangladesh-Mizoram border to ensure safe and fearless voting by the refugees, said Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Asutosh Jindal.
Five NGOs including Young Mizo Association and Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) have been opposing the casting of postal ballot by the Bru refugees and they had organised protest rallies in several places of Mizoram last week.
The demanded ECI to revoke its decision to take the refugees' votes through postal ballot instead suggesting sending back to Bru refugees voters lodging in Tripura camps Mizoram villages for voting; otherwise, the names of those refusing to vote in Mizoram be deleted from the electoral rolls.
They also wrote to Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampat detailing their demand before assembly election of Mizoram last assembly poll but ECI did not respond to it, said NGO officials in Aizawl.
ECI has sent seven observers for conducting election in the Bru refugee camps who will be escorting the ballot boxes to Aizawl after completion of voting on April 3, Mr Jindal said.
He however, stated that district administration in North Tripura has arranged all logistics and extended all other supports for the election observers and election officials of Mizoram during the polling.
Over 36,000 Bru (Reang) tribal have been lodging in refugee camps of Kanchanpur for past 17 years. However, about 5,000 refugees returned to their homes in the past three-and-half years following continued persuasion but it got stalled when refugees demanded guarantee of security in Mizoram.
(Posted on 01-04-2014)