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Mizoram civil societies to launch sit-in protest demanding removal of state election officer

State chief electoral officer SB Shashank had written to the Election Commission, complaining of direct interference by Mizoram govt and its principal secretary in the revision of electoral rolls for polls in state and EC to remove the secretary from his post.

Written by John Zothansanga | Aizawl |
Updated: November 5, 2018 10:29:35 pm
Mizoram civil societies to launch sit-in protest demanding removal of state election officer Lalnunmawia Chuaungo

In the wake of transfer order of Mizoram Principal Secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, civil societies in Mizoram, led by the influential Young Mizo Association (YMA), requested all ‘Mizos’ to take part in a sit-in demonstration in protest against the order and demand the removal of the state chief electoral officer (CEO) SB Shashank, at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday 8:00 am.

Earlier, Shashank wrote to the Election Commission of India (EC), complaining direct interference by Mizoram government and Lalnunmawia in the revision of electoral rolls for the upcoming state elections and asked the EC to remove Lalnunmawia from his post.

Shashank accused Lalnunmawia, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, of making an objection to facilitate voting for Mizoram Bru refugees in Tripura for the upcoming state elections, who fled Mizoram for almost 22 years following ethnic clashes.

The EC responded the letter with an immediate transfer order for Lalnunmawia and barred him from works related to Mizoram government till the state elections are over.

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The transfer order, however, did not go down well with the civil societies in the state, which requested Shashank to quit the post of CEO and leave Mizoram before Monday evening. However, with Shashank not paying heed to their requests, the civil societies in the state are ready to go to extremes.

R Lalngheta, vice-president of the YMA, said, “We will push him until he leaves Mizoram. It might take us a much longer than we expect, but one thing is for sure — we will fight until we succeed and we will come down hard on him.”

Stills from the YMA meet held on Monday.

YMA president Vanlalruata said, “We have a meeting with representatives of EC before, and we requested them to stand on what they promised us before. Considering the present scenario, I feel like the EC is in cahoots with the Brus.”

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla wrote to Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday and requested his interference to resolve the issues.

Lal Thanhawla, in his letter, said, “You are fully aware that Mizo themselves are with the rest of India and any move in this regard will only further alienate the Mizo sentiments. The latest move by Election Commission of India, I am afraid, will further belittle the integration process of the government especially with the new focus on Act East Policy.”

The chief minister also strongly condemned the action taken by Shashank and addressed him as “an inexperienced and incompetent CEO”.

Meanwhile, the Mizo Journalists Association (MJA) boycotted the CEO press conference which took place on Monday. The MJA, in its statement, said, “SB Shashank has filed a complaint to the Election Commission of India against the state principal secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo which led to his ouster. Members of MJA and press fraternity of Mizoram have made repeated attempts to interview SB Shashank, seeking reasons on why he filed the complaint against the principal secretary but got no response. The MJA felt this denial as an utter contempt of journalist community and see no reason why its members should attend the press conference of one officer who has been avoiding the press for the past one week.”

“The journalist fraternity of Mizoram, under the banner of Mizoram Journalists Association, is deeply saddened by the actions of SB Shashank which have hurt the sentiments of the people of Mizoram,” they added.

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