November 1, 2018 4:03:35 am
Complaining of “direct interference” by the Mizoram government in the revision of electoral rolls and security deployment for the November 28 Assembly polls, the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), S B Shashank, has written to the Election Commission (EC) suggesting removal of a top state bureaucrat.
In a letter dated October 29, the CEO is learnt to have highlighted the “active role” played by principal secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo — he 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 warns, Chuaungo’s direct or indirect interference is likely to increase.
According to sources, the EC has taken serious note of the CEO’s letter and is actively considering Chuaungo’s repatriation to his parent cadre till the state votes and a decision is expected this week. The EC has disciplinary powers over all officers and police personnel deputed to perform election duty.
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Mizoram goes to the polls along with Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh, and the state will vote on November 28. The results, together with the other states, will be announced on December 11.
Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, has been serving in Mizoram on an inter-cadre deputation from Gujarat, approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Indian Express could not reach Chuaungo for a comment on Wednesday despite repeated attempts.
Shashank’s missive alleges insensitivity on part of the state government regarding the voting rights of Bru refugees living in Tripura. Thousands of people from the Bru tribe were forced to leave Mizoram after ethnic violence in the state in 1997.
The CEO has cited the interference of the department of home affairs in the electoral revision process by asking the District Election Officers not to consider the identification slips for any purpose other than repatriation of refugees. The Mizoram government, Shashank is learnt to have said, did not seem keen to have any new Bru voters enrolled.
To facilitate voting for Bru refugees in Mizoram elections, the CEO has given the EC three alternatives: voting in Mizoram villages from where the refugees come from, voting on the interstate border, and voting in Tripura camps. According to the CEO, voting on the interstate border, within Mizoram, is the best solution from the perspective of election management and voter comfort.
In his letter, the CEO has also objected to the Mizoram home department seeking a clarification from his office on the deployment of central armed police forces. This amounts to direct interference in the conduct of the election, he said.
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