timesofmizoramAIZAWL, April 1: Mizoram’s civil society groups have threatened to boycott election to the lone Lok Sabha seat in the State scheduled for April 11 if the Bru refugees are not made to cast their votes in their respective polling stations where they are enlisted as voters. Like it did in the State Assembly elections in November last year, the Election Commission has made arrangements for Bru refugees in Tripura, who fled Mizoram since 1997, to exercise their franchise in special polling stations at Kanhmun village in Mizoram near the Tripura border. 

Taking exception to this decision, a meeting of NGO Co-ordination Committee here today, decided to stage indefinite bandh from April 8 which would prevent smooth election to the Lok Sabha and bye-election to Aizawl West-1 Assembly constituency to be held simultaneously on April 11. “The NGOs Coordination Committee feels that we have had enough of problems created by the Bru refugees, who despite several attempts to repatriate them refused to come back. 

To stop this once and for all, the Committee decided to take this extreme step and appeal the people of Mizoram to support us,” a statement of the Committee said today. NGO Coordination Committee comprises of all major civil societies and students’ organisations in Mizoram. The committee also appealed owners of vehicles acquired for election process to stay off the roads and support the call for election boycott. Meanwhile, State CEO Ashish Kundra said he had appealed to the Committee to reconsider their decision to boycott the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, saying such an action is not a democratic form of protest. 

Kundra said that he met with the Committee more than a month ago and appealed it to understand the position of the Election Commission and the impracticability of the demands to facilitate the Bru tribals cast their votes in their respective polling stations. Similar situation had arisen ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha poll in Mizoram in which the civil societies organised a bandh to disrupt election, prompting the EC to reschedule the polling day from April 9 to April 11. That time, the NGOs were protesting the EC’s decision to allow the Bru refugees to vote through postal ballots from their camps. The bandh was called off after the EC’s announcement and the State Government’s promise to repatriate all Brus refugees in Tripura-based relief camps. The State Government also said it would disfranchis.

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