The Reang tribals, sheltered in Tripura for over 20 years, have demanded the setting up of polling stations in refugee camps to cast their votes for the November 28 Mizoram Assembly polls, a refugee leader said on Monday.
Over 35,000 Reang tribal refugees, comprising 5,907 families, fled from Mizoram and have been staying in Tripura’s Kanchanpur and Panisagar sub-divisions since October 1997 following ethnic tension after a Mizo forest official was killed in the neighbouring state.
Among the refugees, only a little over 11,000 immigrants are eligible to vote in next month’s elections to constitute a new Assembly in the Congress-ruled Mizoram.
“Though the names of little over 11,000 refugees are enrolled in the electoral lists of Mizoram, but there are over 5,000 more people among the immigrants who have the eligibility to become voters but due to the negligence of the Mizoram administrations, their names are yet to be enrolled in the electoral lists,” refugee leader Bruno Msha said.
Msha, who is the General Secretary of the refugees’ apex body Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), said that the Election Commission and the Mizoram Election Department were yet to respond to their demand for setting up the polling stations.
A senior official of the Mizoram election department said that the issue of setting up the polling stations was discussed when the full Election Commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat visited the state on October 16.
“However, the Commission has not yet communicated its decision to us in this regard,” the official said.
Meanwhile, leaders of various political parties including the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are visiting the seven refugee camps as part of their election campaign.
The BJP-led alliance government on October 22 resumed the supply of food and relief material to the refugees after the relief was stopped from October 1.