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PIL against Election Commission on Bru refugees

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A regional political organization in Mizoram has filed a PIL in the Gauhati High Court opposing the Election Commission’s directive to include the names of Bru refugees—residing in the relief camps at Kanchanpur block of North Tripura district—in the electoral rolls of Mizoram.

The Bru (also known as Reang) refugees 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.

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

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

The organization urged both the centre and the Mizoram government to stop the repatriation 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 pressurized 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.

Meanwhile an official in the Mizoram Home Department stated 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 recently visited Ashapara and Naisingpara refugee camps last week and held meetings with leaders of the refugees and Mizoram home department officials.

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