Kanchanpu (North Tripura), November 28 : Reang tribal refugees, sheltered in six northern Tripura camps and two Mizoram camps, Friday exercised their franchise for the Mizoram assembly elections after special arrangements of ballot papers were made for them.
Over 8,000 refugee voters Wednesday boycotted the assembly polls, refusing to exercise their franchise through postal ballots forcing the Election Commission of India (ECI) to make special arrangements with normal ballot papers.
"We are happy with the arrangements of the ECI as in place of the postal ballot papers now normal ballot papers with symbols of political parties printed have been arranged," said Elvis Chorkhy, president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF).
"The commission considered the request of the Reang refugee leaders has for the first time made such arrangements of normal ballot papers and it's a historical decision," Special Observer to Mizoram election, Debasish Sen said.
The ECI has set up facilitation centres to take votes in all the six camps in north Tripura and two camps in Mamit district of Mizoram. The voting has been conducted Friday and it shall end on Saturday.
The election to the 40-seat Mizoram assembly is scheduled Dec 2 and the results are expected Dec 8.
About 35,000 Reang tribal refugees are sheltered in six north Tripura camps for the past 11 years following ethnic clashes with the majority Mizos.
Of the 35,000 refugees, about 8,061 refugees were eligible to cast their votes.
Earlier, the Reang refugee boycotted the poll in protest against the missing of names of voters from the voters list and demand of proper ballot papers in place of postal ballots.
The Reangs, also called Bru, are recognised as a primitive tribe and constitute about 10 percent of Mizoram's one million population. Clashes with the Mizos in October 1997 forced them to flee to Tripura and other places.
The Reang tribals have fielded three candidates in the Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts in southern and eastern Mizoram. By Pinaki Das