Bru voters

Aizawl: With the resettlement of Bru tribals in Tripura in progress, names of more than 1,000 Bru voters from Mizoram, who already settled in the neighbouring state, have been removed from voter list of the Northeastern state, an election official said.

The Bru voters from Mizoram have been lodged at Tripura transit camps for over two decades and were allowed to resettle in Tripura after they failed to return to their home state during repatriation.

Thousands of Bru people have been lodged at Tripura transit camps for over two decades after they fled Mizoram fearing ethnic tension triggered by the murder of a Mizo forest official by the erstwhile Bru militants in 1997.

Mizoram joint chief electoral officer David Liansanglura Pachuau said that a total of 1,044 Bru voters from nine assembly constituencies in three Mizoram districts, have been removed from the state voter list till July 4.

He said that the deletion was done based on the corresponding deletion requests sent by Tripura’s election department.

Of the 1,044 Bru electorates, 882 belonged to three assembly constituencies in Tripura border Mamit district, while 152 belonged to three assembly constituencies in Assam border Kolasib district and another 10 voters hailed from three constituencies in Bangladesh border Lunglei district, he said.

He said that the names of other Bru voters are being processed for deletion and they will be removed from the state’s voter list once their names appeared on Electoral Roll Officer Net (ERONET). 

Pachuau said that the Bru voters, who have been re-settled in Tripura and enrolled in that state’s voter list, would be defranchise from Mizoram’s electoral roll accordingly whenever a corresponding deletion request is received from the neighbouring state.

According to Mizoram election department, as many as 11,759 Bru voters, including 5,751 female voters from three districts, who have been in transit camps and already allowed to resettle in Tripura, were enrolled in the Mizoram voter list.

Thousands of Bru people have migrated to Tripura after they fled Mizoram fearing ethnic tension triggered by the murder of a Mizo forest official by the ertswhile Bru militants in 1997.

The Centre and governments of Mizoram and Tripura had made at least 9 attempts to repatriate the Bru tribals from Tripura between 2009 and 2019. 

However, only about 11,000 Bru people had returned to Mizoram during such repatriation exercises. 

As per the agreement signed among the Centre, governments of Mizoram and Tripura and representatives of Bru organisations in January 2020, the resettlement of more than 35,000 displaced Bru tribals in Tripura is under process. 

The agreement said that the Centre would provide rehabilitation to the tune of Rs 4 lakh each to Bru families and land for constructing houses.

The Bru families will also be provided housing assistance of Rs 1 lakh each, Rs 5,000 and free ration to each family monthly for two years, which will be given through the Direct Beneficiary Transfer scheme, the agreement said.

The Tripura government will conduct identification of the Bru refugees and all the relief camps will be closed down after the completion of resettlement, it added. 

In the past, the Bru voters used to exercise their franchise through postal ballots at their relief camps in Tripura until the assembly polls in 2018 and Lok Sabha polls in 2019 when exclusive polling stations were set up for the Bru voters at Kanhmun in Mizoram-Tripura border. 

NGO Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of civil society organisations headed by Central Young Mizo Association (CYMA) and political parties have been demanding the removal of names of the Bru voters, who have been re-settled in Tripura.

In October last year, the NGO Coordination Committee had strongly opposed the setting up of special polling booths for Bru voters during the bypoll to the Tuirial assembly held in October last year.

None of the 663 Bru voters in Tuirial assembly constituency came to Mizoram and cast their votes in the bypoll. 

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