The Election Commission of India has decided to hold polling for Bru refugees residing in Tripura at the inter-state border village of Kanhmun in Mamit district of Mizoram.
The place of voting for 11,232 Bru voters has become the most controversial issue in the run up to the Mizoram Assembly polls, leading to replacement of the Chief Electoral Officer S B Shashank in less than two weeks ahead of the elections to the 40-member House.
Shashank had reportedly facilitated voting by Bru voters in the relief camps in Tripura.
"We have been informed by the Election Commission that the polling for the Brus must be arranged at Kanhmun village inside Mizoram territory. We have started our preparations for that," an official in the CEO office told PTI.
A written order to this effect is likely to be received by the Mizoram CEO Ashish Kundra in a day or two, he said.
Kanhmun is an inter-state border village between Mizoram and Tripura.
The six camps of the Bru refugees are located between two km and 10 km from the inter-state border between Tripura and Mizoram.
"In the last three years, there was no revision of electoral rolls. This time we did that. The Bru refugees are registered in nine Assembly constituencies and we'll place different voting machines accordingly at the special booth in the village," he said.
The highest number of Brus are registered in Mamit district which has Hachhek, Dampa and Mamit constituencies with 14 per cent of the total voters being refugees.
It is followed by Kolasib district with 3.5 per cent of its total voters being Brus. The district has Tuirial, Kolasib and Serlui Assembly seats.In Lunglei district, less than one per cent of the total voters are Bru refugees.
"To smoothly carry out the entire exercise, we'll take help from our counterpart in Tripura," he said.
Accepting the demand of civil society groups, NGOs, student organisations and political parties, the Election Commission on November 15 removed Shashank as Chief Electoral Officer of Mizoram and appointed Ashish Kundra in his place.
They had protested and organised dharnas in front of the CEO's office against Shashank's reported move to facilitate voting by Bru voters in relief camps in Tripura.
They demanded that the Brus, lodged in six relief camps in Tripura after they had fled Mizoram following ethnic clashes in the state in 1997, would have to come to Mizoram to cast their votes as committed by the ECI in 2014.
Meanwhile, the All NGO Coordination Committee has urged political parties to refrain from arranging transport for Bru voters on the polling day on November 28.
According to the final electoral roll published on September 27 this year, Mizoram has 7,68,181 voters.
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