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About 35,000 displaced Bru tribals are still camping at six relief camps in Tripura since they fled Mizoram following ethnic tension in 1997
About 35,000 displaced Bru tribals are still camping at six relief camps in Tripura since they fled Mizoram following ethnic tension in 1997|File image
MIZORAM

PRISM slams EC for terming Brus as ‘ordinary residents’ of Mizoram

Newly-floated political party vows to take measure to ensure that Bru refugees of Tripura do not cast their votes at special polling stations inside the state in future

Henry L Khojol

Aizawl: People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), a newly floated political party, on Thursday accused the Election Commission of India of violating a law by declaring the Bru people in Tripura as “ordinary residents” of Mizoram and vowed to take measure to ensure that the Bru voters do not cast their votes at special polling stations inside Mizoram in future elections.

Prism had earlier work as anti-corruption watchdog in Mizoram.

A statement issued by the party said that the Election Commission has illegally declared the Bru tribals lodged at six relief camps in Tripura as ordinary residents of Mizoram due to which the Bru voters were allowed to cast their votes in Mizoram at special polling stations arranged for them.

“We have been taking measure to stop this practice as it is against the interest of the Mizo people and not safe for Mizoram,” the statement said.

Prism president Vanlalruata said the poll panel declared the Bru people as ordinary residents of Mizoram on September 6, 2014. He said that the Election Commission was not a competent authority to make such declaration as it is within the purview of the union ministry of home affairs.

Ever since they fled Mizoram in 1997, the Bru people exercised their votes through ballot papers inside their relief camps until 2018.

In the state assembly polls held in November last year, the Bru voters had exercised their franchise for the first time in Mizoram as the Election Commission had arranged 15 special polling stations for them at Kanhmun village on the state border with Tripura. More than 50% of Bru voters cast their votes at the village.

In the Lok Sabha poll held on April 11, the poll panel again set up 15 special polling booths for 12,081 Bru voters from six relief camps in Tripura. Only 33.54% of them exercised their franchise in the Lok Sabha elections.

Major civil society organisations have been opposing the setting up of special polling stations for Bru voters and said that the Bru people should return and cast their votes in their respective polling stations in Mizoram.