Mizoram: Massive protests demanding removal of Chief Election Officer, CM writes to PM

A principal secretary-level officer, Lalnunmawia Chuaungo was removed by the state election commission on charges of interfering with the polling process.

Massive protests have erupted in Mizoram demanding the removal of SB Shashank, the Chief Election Officer. According to reports, hundreds of people have marched in Aizawl demanding his removal. Their protests have also coincided with a state-wide protest call given by Central Young Mizo Association. As per latest reports, the election commission of India has sent a three-member team to the state to access the situation.

After the removal of a principal secretary-level officer, Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, by the Election Commission on the charges of meddling with the election process in Mizoram, NGO Co-ordination Committee, an umbrella body of major civil society and student organizations has intensified the demand of removal of the Chief Election Officer S B Shashank. Shashank had complained to the Election Commission about Chuaungo’s interference with the election process. The EC had removed Chuaungo on the ground that the latter has failed to carry out his duty in a direction towards having a free and fair election.

The Coordination Committee had called for a rally on Sunday. On Tuesday people congregated in large numbers in front of Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S B Shashank’s office following the call of the Committee to picket before the CEO’s office, located at Treasury Square, and not allow him to attend office. The leading

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Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday seeking immediate removal of the CEO. “As people have lost faith in him, the only solution for smooth conduct of the Assembly elections 2018 now would be the removal of CEO S B Shashank from office forthwith,” he wrote.

The Committee alleging that Shashank hurt the sentiments of the Mizo people by his “pro-Bru” stance for conducting the elections, appealed to the Federation of Mizoram Government Employees and Workers (FMGEW) to support the agitation and cease work from Tuesday.

Transports facility were also badly affected in the state because of the protests. “Vehicles bound for Assam to transport the Central Armed Police Forces were stopped by volunteers of a prominent non-governmental organisation in Mizoram since Monday. Most of the vehicles have returned to Aizawl,” police said. The 76 vehicles, sent by the State Election Department to transport the CAPF personnel, were halted by volunteers of the Young Mizo Association (YMA) at Kolasib and Kawnpui towns, bordering Assam.

Mizoram goes to poll on Nov 28. It is notable here that thousands of Bru people have been displaced from Mizoram in 1997 after a series of violent attacks. The Bru people live in refugee camps in Tripura. The Congress government had been opposed to the Bru voting in Mizoram elections. But the election commission of India had put up polling booths for the Bru people in 2013 and 2014 elections. SB Shashank had reportedly stated that the Brus will be allowed to vote in Tripura. Leading Mizo groups and the state government have been demanding that the Brus who have rejected repatriation into Mizoram should not be allowed to vote in Mizoram.
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