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Bru refugees to be removed from voter list

By The Assam Tribune

AIZAWL, Feb 3 � Mizoram Home Minister R Lalzirliana today said that those Brus lodged in six relief camps in Tripura, who refuse to return to Mizoram after six months following the next repatriation efforts, would be disfranchised as Mizoram voters.

Lalzirliana told media persons that the decision was made at the meeting convened in Delhi on Friday by the Union Home Ministry and attended by representatives of the Mizoram and Tripura governments.

The meeting, chaired by Joint Secretary (NE) of Union Home Ministry Shambhu Singh, decided that the Brus lodged in the relief camps in North Tripura district should be given a 6-month deadline for returning to Mizoram, he said.

�The names of those who still refuse to be repatriated should be deleted from the Mizoram voters� lists,� the Home Minister said, adding that the Centre would also stop doling out free ration and the relief camps would also be closed.

Lalzirliana said that the next round of repatriation efforts would begin from March or April as the State government has been making arrangements for implementation of the road map for repatriation of the Brus from Tripura. �We would soon submit the estimated expenses and requirement for free ration,� he said.

While the Mizoram Bru Displaced People�s Forum (MBDPF), led by A Sawibung, demanded Rs 1.5 lakh as rehabilitation and resettlement package for a repatriated family, the Centre decided that Rs 80,000 per family was sufficient. The Centre, however, agreed to the demand of extension of giving free ration from 1 to 2 years, he said.

The repatriated Brus would not be allowed to resettle at their own will, but would be resettled in their respective villages where they lived before leaving Mizoram during the later part of 1997, he said.

�If their village had been deserted and no longer inhabited, they would be resettled in another suitable village within the same Assembly constituency,� the Home Minister said.

According to the Mizoram voters� lists those who were yet to be repatriated were 3,455 families.

The Brus left Mizoram en masse after Lalzawmliana, a forest guard, was gunned down by Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) militants in October 1997 and were lodged in North Tripura district since then. � PTI

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