AIZAWL, March 17 - The Bru refugees, lodged in six relief camps in north Tripura since 1997, have demanded the ECI to arrange polling stations in their camps for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, to avoid travelling to Mizoram to cast their votes like they did in the November 2018 Assembly polls.
Election to the lone Lok Sabha seat in Mizoram will be held on April 11.
Brus in Tripura have again demanded polling stations in relief camps for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls on April 11 but Election Commission of India officials said such a provision is not on the cards.
In the run-up to the Assembly polls in November 2018, speculation was rife on whether polling stations would be set up near the relief camps or the Brus would be required to travel to Mizoram to cast their vote at Kanhmun village in Mizoram near the Tripura border.
Ahead of the Assembly polls, bowing to the demands of the Mizoram NGOs, the ECI decided to set up polling booths in Kanhmun.
�We have requested the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to suggest booths inside our camps to ECI so that all of us can vote. During the Assembly polls, the poll percentage was low because many elderly people and women could not travel to Kanhmun,� said Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples� Forum (MBDPF)�s general secretary Bruno Msha, in a letter sent to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on March 15.
�It is likely that a similar arrangement will be made this time. We are waiting for a final word from the ECI,� said Ashish Kundra, Chief Electoral Officer, Mizoram. �The turnout in Kanhmun was good. Around 60 per cent of Brus voted,� he said.
Meanwhile, NGOs in Mizoram are adamant that no special arrangement be made for Brus. �Why should there be any special arrangement for them? Why can�t they come to Mizoram and vote at their respective polling stations like everyone else?� demanded Vanlalruata, president of the Young Mizo Association, the largest non-governmental organisation in the State.
The Bru refugees have also sought assistance from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to continue relief, rations, cash dole and supplies for Bru refugees after the expiry of package deadline on March 31.
The package was extended to six transit camps where over 32,000 Brus are sheltered.
The Central rehabilitation package granted in 1998 to Bru migrants living in Tripura currently, allows Rs 5 per day to each adult migrant, Rs 2.50 to each minor, 600 gram rice to each adult on a daily basis, three soaps in a year, one pair of slippers every year and a mosquito net once in every three years.
MBDPF secretary Bruno Msha and president Apeto Sawibunga wrote to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba saying ration supplies, cash dole and other relief benefits are being given to the Bru relief camps as per MHA instruction issued on January 11 this year. However, the order says supplied relief benefits would only continue till March 31, after which it will be discontinued.