Impasse over voting by Mizo refugees ends
The impasse that resulted from the Election Commission's (EC) decision to set up special polling stations along the Mizoram-Tripura border for the Reang tribal refugees to vote in the Lok Sabha polls was resolved on Thursday after the agitating NGO body called off its agitation.
"The NGO Coordination Committee (NGOCC) has called off the agitation following a series of meetings with senior Mizoram government officials," a state Election Department official told IANS.
In a separate statement, the NGOCC also said that the boycott was suspended after the state government assured to end the Reang tribal refugee imbroglio by repatriating them to Mizoram from Tripura this year.
"We have decided not to cause inconvenience to the common people during elections," NGOCC Secretary Lalhmachhuana said in the statement.
"Since Tuesday, Mizoram Chief Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo has held a series of meetings with the leaders of the NGOCC," the Election Department official said on condition of anonymity.
The NGOCC, an apex body of various NGOs, student and youth bodies in Mizoram, on Monday called for an indefinite shutdown in the state from April 8 and boycott of the Lok Sabha elections to protest the EC's decision.
The Reang tribal refugees, originating from three districts in Mizoram, have lived in Tripura for the past 22 years after they fled their home state in the wake of communal tension.
Last month, the EC announced the setting up of 15 special polling stations in Kanhmun village on the Mizoram-Tripura border to facilitate voting by the refugees for Mizoram's lone Lok Sabha seat on April 11.
The by-election to Aizawl West-I Assembly seat would also be held on April 11.
Announcing its opposition to the decision, NGOCC Chairman Vanlalruata had said that all polling officials and personnel would be prevented from going to their respective stations with election material and devices, including EVMs and VVPATs.
"We have been demanding that arrangements be made to facilitate Reang refugee voters lodged in Tripura camps to cast their votes in polling stations in their villages (where they had resided before going to Tripura), not in the special polling stations at Kanhmun," Vanlalruata told the media on Thursday.
He said that they would reconsider their decision if the EC came up with a positive response before April 8.
There are around 12,000 eligible voters from among the 35,000 refugees living in the seven relief camps in northern Tripura. - IANS