Uncertainty over voting by refugees sheltered in Mizoram after violence in Manipur

Aizawl/Imphal, Mar 20 (IANS): Uncertainty persists over voting by the refugees, who took shelter in Mizoram after the ethnic violence in neighbouring Manipur.

Around 10,000 men, women and children belonging to the Kuki-Zomi community fled to Mizoram after ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on March 3 last year.

Election officials both in Manipur and Mizoram separately said that no arrangements have been made so far to facilitate the voters from among the 10,000 refugees, now sheltered in different districts of Mizoram.

The elections in two Lok Sabha seats in Manipur and the lone seat in Mizoram would be held in the first and second phases on April 19 and April 26 respectively.

Manipur Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Pradeep Kumar Jha said the Election Commission (EC) has decided to set up special polling stations in relief camps in Manipur to facilitate voters living in the camps.

The Election Commission’s plan to set up special polling stations in relief camps is limited to the state’s territorial jurisdiction only, the CEO said in Imphal.

Election officials in Aizawl said that no proposal about voting by the refugees has been submitted from the CEO's office in Mizoram to the Election Commission.

The Manipur government is currently operating around 320 relief camps with more than 59,000 men, women and children staying there.

The 10,000 refugees from Manipur are staying in different relief camps, rented and relatives’ houses in Mizoram.

Aizawl district accommodates the highest number of around 4,500 refugees followed by 2,700 in Kolasib district, 1,300 in Saitual district, and the remaining in other districts.

Earlier voters among the 37,000 Reang refugees, who fled to Tripura due to ethnic troubles in Mizoram in 1997, were allowed to cast their vote through postal ballots in northern Tripura's relief camps.

In 2018, however, special polling stations were set up at a village in Mizoram along the inter-state borders with Tripura after some civil society organisations and youth groups demanded that the Reang migrants should not vote in the Tripura relief camps.



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Title: Uncertainty over voting by refugees sheltered in Mizoram after violence in Manipur

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