An umbrella organisation of major civil societies and student associations in Mizoram have decided to boycott the April 11 election to the lone Mizoram Lok Sabha seat and organise a State-wide indefinite bandh from April 8.
This decision was taken after the Election Commission of India has decided to set up 15 temporary polling stations in Mamit district of Mizoram exclusively for Bru community voters living in relief camps in Tripura.
The organisations have opposed the temporary polling stations.They said that arrangements should be made to facilitate Bru voters lodged at relief camps in Tripura to cast their votes in their respective polling stations in Mizoram.They also condemned the Bru people who have refused to return to Mizoram despite repeated appeals and repatriation attempts.
The Brus,also called Reangs, are scattered across Assam,Mizoram and Tripura.In Mizoram,they inhabit small pockets of Mamit,Lunglei and Lawngtlai districts,but the largest section is in Mamit bordering North Tripura.
A conflict with the majority Mizos in 1995 made organisations like the MizoZirlai Pawl(students union) demand that the Brus,labelled a non-indigenous tribe,be deleted from Mizoram’s electoral rolls.This led to an armed movement by the Bru National Liberation Front,which had killed a Mizo forest official on October 21,1997.
As a consequence,many Bru villages were burnt down which had led to the displacement of 40,000 bru people.Thousands of Brus fled to North Tripura where they were given shelter in relief camps.The Centre and the governments of Tripura and Mizoram had taken steps to repatriate the Bru refugees but those efforts had not succeeded.