In the wake of an agreement to rehabilitate 34,000 Reang tribals -- living in northern Tripura after fleeing Mizoram 23 years ago due to ethnic unrest -- the names of around 11,000 voters among these refugees would be deleted from the electoral list in Mizoram, official sources said on Friday.
A senior official of the Mizoram Election Department told IANS on the condition of anonymity that as per a January 16 agreement arrived at in Delhi between different stakeholders it was decided to rehabilitate Mizoram's 34,000 Reang tribals in Tripura.
Mizoram's Joint Chief Electoral Officer David L. Pachuau however told IANS that the state was yet to receive any clear-cut instructions from the Election Commission about these tribal voters.
"After receiving EC instructions, we will undertake the removal of their names from the voters list in Mizoram," Pachuau said on phone.
Media reports quoting Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer Ashish Kundra said that the names of these Reang tribals would be deleted as per the Representation of the People's Act of 1951.
"The deletion process will be taken up during the next round of electoral rolls revision after the relief camps in Tripura are closed," Kundra was quotes as saying, who was not available for comments personally as he was said to be busy meeting Election Commission officials in Delhi.
The official said that the state government will take the EC's nod before the deletion of names and follow the set procedure. Annual summary revision of electoral lists in most states, including Mizoram, is on, with January 1, 2020, as the qualifying date for age eligibility.
According to Mizoram Election Department officials, the Reang tribal voters originally numbered 12,081, but with the return of around 1,100 refugees to Mizoram villages last year, the voters still housed in the Tripura relief camps would be around 11,000.
The 34,000 Reang tribals hail from Mizoram's Mamit, Lunglei and Kolasib districts, spanning nine of the state's 40 Assembly constituencies.
Meanwhile, General Secretary Bruno Msha of Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF), an apex body of Reang tribal refugees, told IANS that the work to enrol eligible tribal refugees in Tripura and removal of their names from the Mizoram voters list had not yet started.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the Mizoram Assembly polls in November 2018, around 60 to 65 per cent of the over 12,000 Reang tribal voters cast ballots at Kanhmun, a village along the Mizoram-Tripura border, around 50-60 km from their camp.
The Election Commission had set up 15 special polling stations at Kanhmun to facilitate voting by Reang refugees.
As per the January 16 agreement, each Reang tribal refugee family will get a 40x30 feet plot in Tripura to construct a house, fixed deposit of Rs 4 lakh for two years, Rs 1.5 lakh for house building, Rs 5,000 per month for two years, and free ration for two years.
The agreement was signed by the Union Home Ministry officials, Tripura and Mizoram Chief Secretaries, six Reang tribal refugee leaders, and on behalf of newly formed apolitical body Tiprasa that is headed by Tripura's erstwhile royal family's scion Pradyut Kishore Debbarman.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Tripura and Mizoram Chief Ministers Biplab Kumar Deb and Zoramthanga were present on the occasion.
Deb said that a six-member Joint Monitoring Committee headed by the MHA's Special Secretary (Internal Security) will be formed to oversee the implementation of the agreement, expected to be executed within six months.