Amid demands over the removal of Chief Electoral Officer in Mizoram, a Coordination Committee has called for a rally on Sunday pressing for his exit. The crisis in Mizoram developed shortly after CEO SB Shashank’s complained of “direct interference” by the Mizoram government and its Principal secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo in the election process. Upon receiving the complaint, the Election Commission ordered the removal of Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer. The EC also directed that Chuaungo should be relieved of his current responsibilities with immediate effect and not be assigned any work related to the state until the elections are over.
Condemning Election Commission’s order, Coordination Committee, an umbrella body of major civil society and student organisations, led by Yong Mizo Association, has requested every “Mizo” to demand the resignation of CEO SB Shashank.
“The NGO Coordination Committee requested Shashank not to continue his job by leaving his post as CEO and also leave the state of Mizoram before dusk on November 5,” a statement issued by the umbrella organisation said. Accusing the chief electoral officer of working against the spirit of “free, fair and peaceful” polls, the NGO has urged the authorities to replace him with an official who had the confidence of the people of the state.
As first reported by The Indian Express on November 1, in a letter dated October 29, the CEO had highlighted the “active role” played by Chuaungo — who heads the Home and Finance departments — in abetting the government’s intrusion in electoral roll revision and deployment of central armed police forces.
Closer to elections, the letter had warned, Chuaungo’s direct or indirect interference is likely to increase. In its removal order, the Election Commission said Chuango’s continuance “in the State Government of Mizoram will have an adverse impact on the conduct of smooth, free and fair election process in Mizoram”. Shashank’s missive had alleged insensitivity on part of the state government regarding voting rights of Bru refugees living in Tripura.
Meanwhile, a senior police official told PTI that additional security personnel have been deployed at the office and official residence of Shashank since Thursday night. Security was also beefed up in various places of Aizawl following the Committee’s demands, the official said.
The election to the 40-member Assembly will be held on November 28. The results will be out on December 11.
(With inputs from PTI)