Mizoram’s election department on Sunday denied media reports that names of over 11,000 Bru voters, staying in Tripura’s six relief camps, have been deleted from the Mizoram electoral roll.
Mizoram chief electoral officer (CEO) Ashish Kundra said they did not take any action related to the Bru voters in Tripura.
He said the names of the Bru voters could not be deleted in a hasty manner just because of the quadripartite agreement as they have to take approval from the Election Commission of India (ECI) and discuss the matter with the Tripura government.
Kundra said he was completely unaware of the reports claiming that names of over 11,000 Bru refugees in Tripura were deleted by the Mizoram election department in a prompt move.
State assistant chief electoral officer Lalrinpuia also refuted the reports.
He told Northeast Now that first of all the Tripura government will have to inform the Mizoram government about the enlistment of the Bru voters in its roll after which only deletion process from the Mizoram voter list will be undertaken.
“The Bru voters can’t be removed automatically from the state’s voter list unless directed by the Election Commission and deletion is sought by the Tripura government,” Mizoram CEO Kundra said.
According to reports published in a section of media on Sunday, the election department of the Mizoram government, in a prompt move, has deleted names of over eleven thousand refugees from their voter list keeping only 1,168 voters, who returned to Mizoram recently.
The action, which created panic among the Bru refugees in six relief camps in Tripura, was taken immediately after the union home ministry signed a four-corner agreement assuring that the Bru or Reang refugees who came from Mizoram will be rehabilitated in Tripura, the reports said.
It further said the Mizoram government move also created uncertainty as the Tripura government is yet to provide settlement to the refugees and enlist them in the state electoral roll.
Kundra earlier said the process of deletion of Bru voters from Mizoram electoral roll would be undertaken in accordance with “The Representation of the People Act, 1951” once the refugees are re-settled in Tripura and then the union home ministry closed down all the relief camps.
He said the Mizoram government will take approval from the Election Commission and the Bru voters will be probably removed in the next round of roll revision.
Taking January 1, 2020, as the base year, summary revision is being underway across the state and final roll is scheduled to be published on February 7.
There were a total of 12,081 Bru voters in six relief camps in Tripura during the Lok Sabha elections in April last year.
During the last phase of repatriation, conducted between October and November last year, 1,168 Bru people, comprising 715 adults and 453 children, belonging to 289 families, returned to Mizoram.
Fleeing ethnic tension thousands of Bru from Mizoram’s three districts-Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib had migrated to Tripura in different batches first in 1997 and then in 2009.
The Centre, governments of Mizoram and Tripura have made at least 9 attempts to repatriate them, which yield little results as majority chose to stay back in Tripura relief camps citing many reasons, including inadequate rehabilitation package.
On January 16, a quadripartite agreement was signed among the Centre, governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Bru associations, according to which those Bru families, who continue to live in relief camps after November 30, 2019, will settle permanently in Tripura.