A team of officials from Mizoram’s election department has started enumeration exercise in Reang refugee camps in Kanchanpur of North Tripura. State government officials said the team arrived on Thursday evening and expected to complete the work in five days.
Seven makeshift camps with over thirty thousand Reang or Bru evacuees who fled Mizoram in September 1997 to escape ethnic violence allegedly spearheaded by the Mizos. The original number swelled up to 40 thousand, but now lessened after scores returned home to respond to rehabilitation package announced by the Union Home ministry and Mizoram government.
“The purpose of visit of Mizoram election officials is to prepare fresh electoral rolls in the camps in view of ensuing assembly elections in Mizoram. For over a decade the Election Commission of India is making special arrangements to ensure franchise of eligible refugee voters within the camps”, a North Tripura district official said on Friday.
The refugees are reluctant to end precarious camp life unless Mizoram government concedes to their demands like regional council, recognition of their dialect and security, besides a comprehensive settlement package. Mizoram government summarily turned down all the demands except central government aided rehabilitation plan.
July 2013 was the last set deadline to complete repatriation of the refugees, but this unlikely to happen with only few days left for such exercise.
Numerous initiatives of the central government, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), human rights groups and Tripura government failed to solve the refugee stalemate so far.
Tripura government officials have extended cooperation to the enumeration exercise of Mizoram election department. Elaborate security arrangements have been made as some extremist elements are active in the camps.
Few thousand refugee voters of the camps are essentially important for the political parties in contest in a small state like Mizoram. Top brass of political parties even charter chopper to visit the camp inmates in election times to woo them, but the main issue of their peaceful repatriation and rehabilitation remain unresolved.