Bru refugess (File image)

Mizoram’s main opposition Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) has written to Election Commission of India (ECI) urging the poll panel to delete names of Bru voters, who are yet to resettle in Tripura, from Mizoram electoral roll, a party leader said on Tuesday.

There are about 12,000 Bru voters in Mizoram among others, who opted to permanently resettle in Tripura, according to election officials.

ZPM publicity department secretary Laldinpuia said that the representation demanding removal of Bru voters’ names from Mizoram electoral as per the four cornered agreement on January 16 this year was submitted to the Election Commission through state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on Monday evening.

The letter said that the Bru migrants, who used to live in Mizoram but left the state on their own in 1997 and now settled in Tripura are still enrolled in Mizoram electoral roll more than 2 decades after their departure from the state.

It said that many attempts have been made by the Centre, state governments and civil society organisations to repatriate the displaced Bru people to Mizoram.

“Though many Bru families have returned to Mizoram during the repatriation exercises, majority of the Bru people have refused to return making fallacious and misguided excuses and are still settling in Tripura,” the letter said.

The letter also said that in view of the special summary revision, which is currently underway in the state, names of the Bru voters should be deleted from the state’s electoral roll according to the January 16 agreement, which stated that the Bru people, who failed to return to Mizoram, would permanently settle in Tripura.

Meanwhile, an official of state election department said that there are about 12,000 Bru voters in Mizoram, who failed to return to the state during repatriation.

He said that the Bru voters are still enrolled in the state’s voter list because the their resettlement in neighbouring Tripura is under process.

“Once the Bru people have resettled and when their epic numbers are entered on EROnet to be enrolled in Tripura’s voter list, a corresponding deletion request will be sent to Mizoram and hence the Bru voters will be automatically removed from the state electoral roll,” the official said.

He said that resettlement of the Bru people in Tripura is outside the election commission’s ambit.

Tripura is currently facing an anti-Bru settlement protest leading to the death of at least two people.

Thousands of Brus fled Mizoram and migrated to Tripura fearing ethnic tension triggered by the murder of a Mizo forest guard in 1997.

There have been at least nine attempts for repatriation of the Brus to Mizoram, with the latest round of repatriation organised between October and November, 2019, during which 1,165 Brus, belonging to 289 families, had returned to Mizoram.

Till date 11,107 Bru refugees (2,239 families) have been repatriated back to Mizoram.

According to the agreement signed among the Centre, governments of Mizoram and Tripura and representatives of Bru organisations on January 16 this year, more than 35,000 displaced Bru tribals, who failed to return to Mizoram before November, 2019 and were in refugee camps in Tripura, would be permanently settled in that state.

Earlier on Saturday, civil society groups in Mizoram urged the Centre and Mizoram and Tripura government to take measures for immediate fulfillment of the January 16 agreement.

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