Will displaced Kuki-Zo refuge in Mizoram took part in Lok Sabha

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Will displaced Kuki-Zo refuge in Mizoram took part in Lok Sabha

Aizawl: Even as the country gears up for next month’s Lok Sabha elections, thousands of Kuki-Zo people from Manipur, displaced by ethnic violence, are taking refuge in Mizoram, perhaps cannot exercise voting rights to win their seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
An election official from Mizoram said that no voting arrangements have been made yet for the internally displaced people (IDPs) of Manipur who are taking refuge in Mizoram to cast their votes in the upcoming elections.
Although discussions are ongoing among Election Commission officials to enable the displaced Manipuris in different parts of the country to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, host states including Mizoram have allowed them to vote. There is no written order to give. Now, he said.
Manipur will go to polls for two Lok Sabha seats in two phases on April 19 and April 26.
According to the Mizoram Home Department, a total of 9,196 people from Manipur, both adults and children, are currently taking refuge in different parts of Mizoram.
Out of 9,196 people, 1,340 live in 26 relief camps, while 7,856 live outside relief camps.

Many of the Manipurs, who took refuge in Mizoram, belong to the minority Kuki-zo community, who share ethnic ties with the Mizos.

They have been taking shelter in the northeastern state since May last year due to the ongoing ethnic violence in the neighbouring state.

Recently, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said that the Election Commission has drawn up a scheme to allow displaced people in Manipur to cast their votes from their respective camps.

Manipur’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Pradeep Kumar Jha had told reporters that the scheme is limited to the state’s territorial jurisdiction and nobody has approached them as regards the Manipuris taking shelter in Mizoram.

The Kuki-Zo people from Manipur are also displaced in Delhi and other cities across the country besides Mizoram, according to the Churachandpur-based Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF).

In the past, the Election Commission had allowed the IDPs to exercise their franchise from the host states.

When thousands of Mizoram’s Bru people fled to Tripura due to ethnic tension in 1997, they were allowed to exercise their franchise through postal ballots in Tripura’s relief camps.

It was in 2018 that exclusive polling stations were set up at Kanhmun village on the Mizoram-Tripura border following opposition by Mizoram civil society groups that the Bru voters should not vote in the relief camps.

The Kashmiri IDPs living in Delhi have been allowed to vote from Delhi.

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