Youth groups call to boycott Mizoram polls

Updated on : Apr 05,2014   2:06 pm

Aizawl/Agartala, April 5 (IANS) Six NGOs and students' groups have called for a boycott of the April 9 Lok Sabha polls in Mizoram to protest the Election Commission's decision to allow tribal refugees' living in Tripura's relief camps vote for the lone seat in Mizoram.

Leaders of the six NGOs and students' bodies led by Young Mizo Association (YMA) held an emergency meeting in Aizawl Friday night and decided to urge people to boycott the polls.

"We have also decided to observe a 72-hour statewide strike from April 7," YMA spokesman J. Lalsailova told reporters in Aizawl Saturday.

Out of over 36,000 Reang tribal refugees, living in seven camps in northern Tripura for the past 17 years after fleeing their villages in western Mizoram, 11,500 were on electoral rolls in Mizoram and 71 percent of these have voted through postal ballots in three days - Tuesday to Thursday.

The postal balloting was held under the close supervision of seven observers of Election Commission. Seven officials from Mizoram also came to the camps to assist the electoral process.

"In view of the threat given by local NGOs in Mizoram to obstruct counting of postal ballot papers in Aizawl, the Election Commission has decided to count the postal ballots in Kanchanpur (north Tripura) May 16. An Election Commission observer would also be present on the day of counting," Kanchanpur Sub-Divisional Magistrate Nantu Das told IANS.

The NGOs and youth organisations, led by YMA, have been organising protests in Aizawl and other places of Mizoram since last week demanding to revoke poll panel decision to take the refugees' votes by postal ballot.

The Reang tribals, locally known as 'Bru', had fled their villages in Mizoram and took shelter in Tripura in October 1997 after an ethnic conflict broke out with the majority Mizos over the killing of a Mizo forest official.