Tribal refugees to cast votes through postal ballot in Mizoram

November 23rd, 2008 - 4:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Aizawl, Nov 23 (IANS) About 8,000 Reang tribal refugees, sheltered in camps in neighbouring Tripura, would cast their votes in Mizoram assembly elections next week through postal ballots, officials Sunday said. The election to the 40-seat Mizoram assembly is scheduled Dec 2 and the results are expected Dec 8.

“We welcome the Election Commission’s decision and want all the eligible voters to exercise their franchise,” said Elvis Chorkhy, president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF).

About 35,000 Reang tribal refugees are sheltered in six Tripura camps for the past 11 years following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos.

An election commission notification said all the Reang refugee voters residing in six camps in north Tripura and two camps in Mizoram could vote through postal ballot in their respective camps Nov 26 and 27.

The Reangs, also called Bru, are recognised as a primitive tribe and constitute about 10 percent of Mizoram’s one million population. Clashes with the Mizos in October 1997 forced them to flee to Tripura and other places.

“We shall support those parties in the election who keep their promises for the betterment of the Reangs after the formation of the government,” Chorkhy told IANS.

The Reang tribals have fielded three candidates in the Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts in southern and eastern Mizoram so they can have their representatives in the assembly.

The total number of voters among the Reang tribal refugees who received the Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) are 6,479, while the total number of refugees included in the electoral list are 8,061 as per the draft electoral rolls of 2008.

Chorkhy alleged that the ruling Mizo National Front had conspired to keep off more than 8,000 tribal refugees of the voters list and these people were going to be deprived of the right to exercise their franchise.

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