Reang refugees to put up candidates in Mizoram election

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Agartala, Nov 10 (UNI) Reang refugees, displaced from western Mizoram in 1997, have decided to contest as independent candidates in the coming election to the Mizoram Assembly on December 2, while indicating to campaign against the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF).

Elvis Chorkhy, president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum, here today said, ''Despite repeated initiatives, the Zoramthanga government has not responded to the appeal to take back the refugees and even refused to recognise them as residents of Mizoram. As a result, about 7,800 eligible voters could not enrol their names in the list.'' According to report, the issue had also been referred to the Election Commission (EC) and negotiations were on with Opposition parties for nominating at least two candidates from the refugee fold in the elections.

''Now we are persuading to send our representatives to the Assembly, the highest democratic platform, to ensure repatriation to our native land,'' Mr Chorkhy said and threatened that if the refugees do not get their candidature they would boycott the elections.

He added that no MLA from Reang was elected in two decades of electoral history of the state even though the community comprised more than ten per cent of the total population.

About 35,000 Reangs have been living in Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura since 1997 following the ethnic clash in Mamit district of Western Mizoram.

However, neither the Centre nor Mizoram government was sincere to solve the decade-old problem and fulfill the commitment, Mr Chorkhy alleged.

Mr Chorkhy also demanded the EC to set up polling booths in the refugee camps to ensure participation of the voters in the election, adding, ''Mamit district has about 45 per cent of Reangs while six other constituencies also have a sizeable number of Reang voters.'' Militant-outfit-turned-political-party MNF had been ruling the hilly state for the past 10 years but was reluctant to take back the Reang refugees, which prompted them to organise a series of agitations over the years.

After 14 rounds of talks, Mizoram government and Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) outfit had signed an agreement in April 2005 to resolve the ethnic crisis, leading to the surrender of about 1,040 militants belonging to the BNLF and Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram.


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