Meghalaya groups oppose Tibetan refugees enrolment as voters

Shillong, April 11: Meghalaya’s powerful pressure groups – the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) and the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) – Friday opposed inclusion of Tibetan refugees in the electoral rolls of the northeastern state.

“We strongly oppose the Election Commission’s directive and we will never allow Tibetans or any doubtful citizens to enrol themselves in the state’s electoral rolls,” KSU president Daniel Khyriem told IANS.

The Election Commission has directed all states to include children of Tibetan refugees in the electoral rolls following the Karnataka High Court August 2013 order granting Indian citizenship to Tibetan refugees

This is for the first time in 55 years that voting rights will be conferred on Tibetans living in exile in India.

“We have never protested against Tibetan refugees taking refuge and flourishing in business in our state. But allowing them to enrol in the state’s electoral roll means that the government has granted them Indian citizenship,” Khyriem said.

Echoing KSU’s stand, the FKJGP said the directive would have a “negative impact” on the indigenous population of Meghalaya.

“We are against the Election Commission’s order to include Tibetan refugees in the electoral rolls which will have severe impact on the microscopic. indigenous population of the State,” FKJGP president Joe Marwein said.

There are nearly 2 lakh Tibetan refugees in India and around 640 of them are settled in Meghalaya.