ECI decides conducting electoral revision of Bru voters in Tripura

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AIZAWL, Aug 8 (Newmai): Against the suggestion and request of the Mizoram Government, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has decided to conduct electoral revision of Bru voters at their respective relief camps in Tripura before they return to Mizoram, official sources said on Wednesday.

About 32,857 displaced Bru people are currently lodging at six relief camps in north Tripura district and are scheduled to be repatriated to Mizoram between August and September as per the quadripartite deal in July last.

Officials of the state Home department said that the state government had earlier suggested the ECI to undertake electoral revision of Bru voters once they return to Mizoram. The state government had also requested the ECI not to allow Bru voters exercise franchise outside Mizoram.

Initially, the ECI accepted the state government’s suggestion but later decided to undertake electoral revision at relief camps due to lack of enough time as Mizoram is going to poll at this year end, the officials said.

Addressing a meeting of various political parties, major civil society organizations and officials over preparedness of Bru repatriation here on Wednesday, State Home minister R. Lalzirliana said the government is still firm on conducting electoral roll revision of Bru people once they are repatriated and allow them to exercise franchise only in Mizoram. He also told the meeting that Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla had earlier informed the Ministry of Home Affairs and ECI about the state government’s stand on electoral revision and exercise of franchise. Apart from the Chief Minister, officials of the State Home department had also held meetings with ECI officials over the matter on three occasions.

As per the final decision of the ECI, summary electoral roll revision of the Bru voters will be conducted at six relief camps in Tripura despite opposition from the state government and the people of Mizoram, Lalzirliana informed the meeting. “The government has to agree with the ECI to conduct revision at relief camps before repatriation as we have to respect the democratic nature of our country,” he said.

Sources has, meanwhile, said that all civil society organizations and various political parties have strongly opposed the ECI’s decision and decided to write to it over the matter.

Mizoram government is all ready to begin repatriation of 32,857 displaced Bru tribals from Tripura after languishing more than two decades in six relief camps fleeing ethnic violence. The repatriation, as per schedule, would take off on the eve of Independence Day  and get completed by September 10, the officials said on Wednesday.

State Home department officials said that all the deputy commissioners of the respective districts, where the families would be repatriated, have completed chalking out plans for resettlement of the Bru families. The officials also said that the Bru families would be resettled in 46 villages in Mamit district, 40 villages in Kolasib district bordering Assam and 4 villages in south Mizoram’s Lunglei district respectively.

Officials of the Home department, Information and Public Relation department and concerned districts led by principal secretary of the Home department, Lalnunmawia Chuaungo would be heading for Tripura on Thursday for official work and to take part at the meeting of Monitoring Committee involving the centre and Tripura government at Damcherra on Friday to finalise a road map to repatriate the displaced Bru tribals to Mizoram, an official statement on Wednesday also said.

Central Young Mizo Association (YMA) president, Vanlalruata, who is the member of the monitoring committee will also take part in the meeting.

According to road map-IV of Bru repatriation, the state government has sought Rs 68.60 crore from the Centre for repatriation of 3,455 families.

However, financial requirement has to be increased to Rs 121.3 crore as the number of Bru families have increased from 3,455 to 5,407 after identification in November, 2016.

The Home department officials said that approval from the MHA is awaiting for allocation of Rs 121.3 crore to begin repatriation process.

As per the quadripartite between the Centre, Mizoram and Tripura governments and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) reached on July 3 in New Delhi, 32,857 Bru refugees comprising 5,413 families would start returning to Mizoram from Tripura in August. The agreement also finalized a six-point benefit package for each family.

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