Displaced persons of the Mizoram Reang tribe kicked off the 16th Lok Sabha elections here on Tuesday, exercising their franchise by postal ballot.
Of the 11,243 eligible voters, around 2,500 participated in the first day of the three-day voting exercise set up for the evacuees — thousands had taken shelter in Kanchanpur in North Tripura district, in the wake of the 1997 ethnic violence in Mizoram’s Mamith district — housed in makeshift camps.
“The polling started at 8 a.m. at designated centres of the camps, but picked up in the afternoon. Even after the time limit of 5 p.m. passed, voters were in the queues,” Kanchanpur sub-divisional magistrate Nantu Ranjan Das told The Hindu.
At 5 p.m., he said, 2,269 votes were polled and another 250 “enthusiastic” voters remained in the queues.
Dismissing the Mizoram government’s objections and street protests in the State capital Aizawl, the Election Commission went ahead with the conduct of the postal ballot for the displaced Reangs, who are also known as Bru.
The Mizoram government had wanted around 35,000 refugees to return to the State and vote in its lone Lok Sabha constituency as normal voters. Three candidates are in the fray.
Massive security arrangements were in place in and around the camps.
The Mizoram Displaced People’s Forum — apex body of the refugees — extended support and cooperation for the smooth conduct of the poll, officials said.