EC team in poll-bound Mizoram to assess plea to remove chief electoral officer

First Published 6, Nov 2018, 3:57 PM IST
EC team in poll-bound Mizoram to assess plea to remove state electoral officer
Highlights

CM Lal Thanhawla on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking immediate removal of the state CEO as "people have lost faith in him". He wrote SB Shashank's removal is the only solution for smooth conduct of the November 28 Assembly elections

Aizawl: The Election Commission of India has sent a three-member team to poll-bound Mizoram on Tuesday to assess the situation in view of the demand for the ouster of state's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) SB Shashank.

The high-level team will hold discussions with Chief Secretary Arvind Ray, other senior officials and leaders of civil societies in an effort to resolve the impasse, the sources said.

The team, comprising Jharkhand state CEO L Khiangte, Director of Election Commission Nikhil Kumar and Secretary, Election Commission, S B Joshi is expected to reach the state capital on Tuesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, thousands of Mizos held a peaceful protest at the office of the chief electoral officer in Aizawl. The state is on edge, following the tussle between civil society groups and the state's top poll officer after the latter ordered the removal of the home secretary, Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, accusing him of interfering with the poll process. Assembly elections in Mizoram are scheduled on November 28.

Most schools, shops and offices are closed in Aizawl today. There is total shutdown in Mamit town as well, where scores of government employees are out on the streets. Protests are also being held in at least five other district headquarters.

Elections to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly are scheduled for November 28. Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking immediate removal of the state CEO as "people have lost faith in him".

SB Shashank's removal is the only solution for smooth conduct of the November 28 Assembly elections, the chief minister said in the letter.

Seeking the CEO's exit, the NGO Coordination Committee, an umbrella organisation of major civil societies and student associations, began picketing in front of the CEO's office from Tuesday morning.

Trouble started after Sashank send a surpise letter to the Election Commission, complaining of direct interference by home secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, in the revision of electoral rolls and asked the poll panel to remove him from his post.

Sashank accused Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, of objecting to facilitate voting for Mizoram's Bru refugees living in Tripura, for the Assembly elections. The Bru refugees had fled Mizoram almost 22 years ago after ethnic clashes.

The Election Commission immediately transferred Chuaungo and barred him from office till the elections are over.

The influential Young Mizo Association (YMA), which is backed by the church, is protesting the transfer of the Mr Chuaungo, who is a local Mizo, and they want the removal of Mr Sashank. 

(With PTI inputs)

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