Civil society groups in Mizoram on Tuesday demanded that the names of the Bru voters living in Tripura who did not return to Mizoram before the signing of the quadripartite agreement be immediately deleted from the state’s electoral roll.
The agreement, signed among the Centre, the governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Bru organisations in New Delhi on January 16, allows some 35,000 Brus, who were displaced from Mizoram and have been living in Tripura as refugees since 1997, to settle permanently in Tripura.
A statement issued by NGO Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of major civil society and student groups of Mizoram, said the Centre and the Mizoram government made at least nine attempts to repatriate Bru refugees but a majority of them refused to return citing several reasons.
“As the quadripartite agreement allowed the Bru people to permanently settle in Tripura, their names should be deleted from Mizoram electoral roll at the earliest,” it said.
The committee said it would ensure that the agreement is materialised. It also vowed to take steps to ensure that Bru voters were defranchised from the state’s electoral at the earliest.
Earlier, Mizoram chief electoral officer Ashish Kundra had said that the Bru voters issue would be resolved in accordance with The Representation of the People Act, 1951, as an agreement allowing the non-repatriated Brus to settle permanently in Tripura had been signed. He said these Bru voters’ names would be deleted from the state’s electoral roll perhaps in the next roll revision once the Bru people are re-settled in their respective areas and relief camps in Tripura are closed down. The government would take approval from the Election Commission to go ahead with the process, he had said.
There were 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. State home department officials at least 11,211 people, including 3,436 children, belonging to 2,498 families have returned to Mizoram during the repatriation exercise conducted from 2009 to 2019.
According to election officials, more than 11,000 names of Bru voters would be removed from Mizoram’s electoral roll.