AIZAWL, FEB 6: Opposition Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) chief Lalduhoma strongly slammed the ruling Congress for attempting to induct into the party Bru voters, who are currently lodged at six relief camps in north Tripura district and said that the move was against the interest of the people.
Addressing a ZNP meeting here on Monday, the IPS officer turned politician alleged that Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) President and Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla had earlier said they are attempting to induct the Bru voters from relief camps into Congress.
“Our attempt to induct the Bru voters to our party has been cancelled after the Tripura government refused permission to do so and threatened to delete the Bru people from ration cards,” Lal Thanhawla was quoted as saying by Lalduhoma.
He alleged that Lal Thanhawla had made a comment about this issue while addressing a political session at Congress Bhavan here last Friday.
Stating that the congress’s move to induct the Bru voters goes against the interest of the Mizo people, Lalduhoma said it was an instance of utter contempt to the NGOs, which had once protested against the Election Commission of India’s decision to allow Bru voters to exercise franchise in the relief camps.
Lalduhoma said that, in April 2014, the NGO Coordination Committee, comprising all civil societies organizations and student bodies in Mizoram had launched an agitation against the ECI’s decision to allow Bru refugees to exercise franchise at relief camps in Tripura in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Following this, Mizoram Chief Secretary Lalmalsawma had written to the central committee of Young Mizo Association (YMA) informing that those Bru people who are unwilling to return to Mizoram would be deleted from the voter list.
Earlier in September last year, the NGO Coordination Committee also submitted a memorandum to the ECI appealing it to not allow Bru families to exercise franchise at their transit camps in Tripura, Lalduhoma said, adding that his party has strongly endorsed the committee for its stand against the Bru refugees.
Thousands of Brus from Mizoram fled to Tripura due to communal tension that flared up after a forest guard was gunned down by Bru militants on October 21, 1997 inside Dampa Tiger Reserve near Persang hamlet in Mamit district on the Mizoram- Bangladesh border.
Several attempts to repatriate them thereafter failed due to several reasons.
The last attempt for repatriation which was scheduled to commence after identification in November 2016 had to be stalled as the Supreme Court suggested the MHA and Mizoram government to not go ahead because of demands raised by the Bru people.
The Mizoram government is currently preparing to repatriate the displaced Brus in March and identification of the refugees whether or not they are willing to return to Mizoram would be conducted in the last week of February, officials said.