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PIL opposes Brus as voters

A regional political organisation in Mizoram has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Gauhati High Court opposing the Election Commission's directive to include the names of Bru refugees, residing in relief camps at Kanchanpur block of North Tripura district, in the electoral rolls of Mizoram.

By Nilotpal Bhattacharjee in Silchar
  • Published 8.06.16
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RDP members in Aizawl on Tuesday. Telegraph picture

Silchar, June 7: A regional political organisation in Mizoram has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Gauhati High Court opposing the Election Commission's directive to include the names of Bru refugees, residing in relief camps at Kanchanpur block of North Tripura district, in the electoral rolls of Mizoram.

The vice-president of the Revolutionary Democratic Party (RDP), Hmingthanzami, today told reporters in Aizawl that the PIL was filed last week.

She said allowing Bru refugees, who are settled in Tripura, to enrol their names in the voter list of Mizoram was completely a violation of law and such a provision was not even there in the Representation of the People Act, 1950.

The organisation urged both the Centre and the Mizoram government to stop the repatriation process of the Bru families as they were not refugees but migrants who can settle in any part of the country.

Hmingthanzami said both the central and state governments had made several attempts to repatriate Bru families but only a few of them returned to Mizoram. "As the Bru families are not willing to return to Mizoram, they should not be pressurised to come back. They are Indian citizens and they can live in any part of this country," she said.

The Mizoram government recently submitted Roadmap V to the Union ministry of home affairs for repatriation of Bru refugees, after the attempt under Roadmap IV failed last year with only one person willing to return to the state.

An official in the Mizoram home department told this correspondent that under Roadmap V, there was a plan to repatriate around 20,700 Brus, including 11,500 children belonging to 3,455 families settled in six relief camps in Tripura.

Joint secretary of the Union ministry of home affairs, Satyajit Garg, had visited Ashapara and Naisingpara refugee camps last week and held meetings with leaders of the refugees and Mizoram home department officials. Garg's visit was a follow-up.

The Bru (also known as Reang) refugees in North Tripura's refugee camps were driven out of their homes in November 1997 from Mizoram in the aftermath of an ethnic riot between the majority Mizo population and minority Reang people, which was sparked by Bru militants. Between 2009 and 2011, as many as 3,000 Bru refugees were repatriated to Mizoram from six relief camps in North Tripura.