Bru refugees may find it tough to vote

Tripura NGOs oppose special booths
The Bru refugees stranded in makeshift camps in north Tripura will find it tough to join in the election exercise in Mizoram owing to stiff protests from hardliner Mizo social groups. NGO Coordination Committee, a new forum, spearheaded massive protests mainly in Mizoram capital Aizawl to oppose any special arrangements for the refugees to exercise their franchise in the November 28 Assembly poll. The protesters also demanded that Chief Election Officer (CEO) S.B. Shashank be shifted as he allegedly made the Election Commission withdraw a top official from the poll-bound State. The Congress-led Mizoram government also opposed the transfer citing it was politically motivated. Nearly 35,000 Brus, also known as Reangs, are housed in six camps in Kanchanpur, north Tripura district. They entered Tripura in 1997 to escape ethnic unrest in Mizoram. In the previous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Mizoram, the Election Commission made special arrangements enabling the refugees to cast vote. Polling booths were erected on the Tripura-Mizoram border and the election office arranged transportation of refugee voters. A high-level EC team which visited Aizawl reportedly agreed not to set up polling stations either in the camps or elsewhere. Hence the refugee voters will have to travel to two Reang-populated Assembly segments to cast vote.
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