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Voters sitting in benches while waiting for their turn at a polling booth in Mizoram during elections last year
Voters sitting in benches while waiting for their turn at a polling booth in Mizoram during elections last year|EastMojo image
MIZORAM

Mizoram NGOs reverse decision to boycott LS polls  

NGO Coordination Committee’s announcement comes after appeal made by state government not to cause inconvenience to the people

Henry L Khojol

Aizawl: NGO Coordination Committee, an umbrella body of all major civil societies and student bodies in Mizoram, which had earlier sought to boycott the Lok Sabha elections, reversed its decision on Thursday following an appeal by the state government not to cause inconvenience to the people.

Election to the state's lone Lok Sabha seat will be held simultaneously with by- polls to Aizawl West-I assembly constituency on April 11.

A statement issued by the committee said the internal meeting of the organistion’s top hierarchy on Wednesday night unanimously decided to withdraw the boycott call after the Union home ministry and the state government promised to end the Bru impasse by undertaking the last and final repatriation process this year.

The Centre also promised not to show sympathy to the displaced Bru people, if they refuse to return to their respective villages in Mizoram during final repatriation, the statement added.

“The meeting strongly endorsed the appeal made by chief secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo and hence unanimously agreed to reverse its decision with a belief that the Bru imbroglio can be put to an end for good,” the statement said, adding it strongly has faith in the government’s commitment.

The NGO Coordination Committee had called for an indefinite strike from April 8 in protest against the Election Commission’s decision to set up special polling booths for Bru voters at Kanhmun village on the state’s border with Tripura.

Nearly 35,000 Bru people are still camping at six relief camps in Tripura since they fled Mizoram in 1997 following communal tension triggered by the murder of a Mizo forest guard by the erstwhile Bru militant group.

Several attempts by the Centre as well as the government of Mizoram and Tripura to repatriate them went futile as the Bru tribal reluctant to return citing security reasons and inadequate rehabilitation packages.

There are 12,081 Bru voters from six relief camps in Tripura, who belongs to three districts- Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib.

Like in 2018 assembly elections, the EC will set up 15 exclusive polling stations, 9 for Mamit districts and 3 each for Lunglei and Kolasib for the Bru voters.

Meanwhile, the state government has thanked the civil society groups for reversing their decision and urged the people to exercise their franchise in large number so that Mizoram has a person of its choice sit in the parliament.

State CEO Ashish Kundra also appealed to the people to turn up in large number and cooperate with the election department for peaceful elections.