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Protesting Reangs refuse to vote

india Updated: Nov 27, 2008 00:38 IST
Syed Sajjad Ali
Syed Sajjad Ali
Hindustan Times
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The Reang refugees from Mizoram, currently residing in relief camps close to the Mizoram-Tripura border refused to vote by postal ballot in the Mizoram assembly elections.

Though the Mizoram poll is scheduled for December 2, the postal ballots had to be cast on Wednesday. The Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum — Reangs are also known as Brus — declared their supporters would not vote unless the electoral rolls were revised to include all adult Reangs living in the camps.

Around 8000 Reangs from six assembly seats of Mizoram, were forced to flee Mizoram in the late 1990s when the historical animosity between them and the Mizos boiled over. They have been living in the camps for the past decade, their number swelling, according to the forum, to 16,000.

The coming Mizoram poll was the first in which elaborate arrangements were made by the Election Commission to enable the Reangs to cast postal ballots.

In sparsely populated Mizoram even these 8000 votes count. Had they voted, the Reangs could have made all the difference in three seats: Mamit, Dampa and Hachek. Thus all the Mizoram parties — the ruling Mizo National Front, the Congress and others — came to the camps to woo the Reangs.

But with the forum declaring a poll boycott unless all 16,000 adult Reangs were included in a revised voters list, the effort turned out fruitless.