Refugees exercise their franchise in Tripura camps

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Agartala, Nov 28 (UNI) The election exercise for the 40-member Assembly in Mizoram in six Reang tribal refugee camps in North Tripura began this morning with fresh postal ballot containing names and symbols of different political parties.

Talking to UNI over phone, Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum's (MBDPF) president Elvis Chorkhy said the refugees were participating in the election in a peaceful atmosphere.

''Since the Election Commission of India (ECI) has made attempt to conduct election through fresh postal ballot, accepting our demands, we shall try to record cent per cent turn out in the poll during the two-day exercise,'' Mr Chorkhy said.

The refugees boycotted the election, as postal ballots were printed as per the standard norms with the name not indicating the symbol of the candidates. They argued that since most of the voters were illiterate, they could not identify the candidate. Finally ECI conceded their demands and printed fresh ballot with symbols for them.

Mr Chorkhy, however, pointed out that only 6,479 of the total number of voters among the Reang tribal refugees had received Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC), which was 8,061 in the draft electoral rolls of 2008. Moreover, about 8,000 eligible voters among 35,000 refugees had been deprived of the voting rights this time.

He indicated that most of the refugees had been supporting the Congress this time in the election.

''Despite repeated pleas, the Zoramthanga government has not given any response about taking 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,'' he said.

The refugees have been living at six camps in Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura since 1997 following the ethnic clashes in Mamit district of Western Mizoram. They alleged that neither the Centre nor Mizoram government was sincere to solve the decade-old problem.

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