New Delhi: The Election Commission of India has appointed Ashish Kundra as the chief electoral officer in place of SB Shashank after local groups in the state demanded his removal after weeks of protest and violence.

Ashish Kundra, a 1996 batch IAS officer, was posted as Commissioner GAD, Higher and Technical Education Government of Mizoram. In 2016, he served as the Development and Finance Commissioner of Arunachal Pradesh.

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The controversy arose after an administrative tussle between the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and the Principal Secretary (Home) became politicised along ethnic lines.

Last week, a high-level Election Commission team met local groups such as the Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee (MNCC), which had led the state-wide protests for Shashank's removal and reinstatement of the ousted Principal Secretary (Home).

The leaders of MNCC started the agitation last week after Principal Secretary (Home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo was removed on an Election Commission order. The MNCC's agitation was supported by Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and his ruling party Congress as well as the opposition, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). On November 2, acting on a letter written by Shashank, the Election Commission removed Chuaungo from election duty. 

The EC has sent a three-member high-level team comprising L Khiangte, Jharkhand state CEO, Nikhil Kumar, Director of Election Commission, and SB Joshi, Secretary, EC, who met Chief Secretary Arvind Ray in Aizawl.

Also Read: EC team in poll-bound Mizoram to assess plea to remove chief electoral officer
The entire state was up in arms after Shashank was made the chief electoral officer. 

Shashank reportedly wrote a letter to the Election Commission of India, mentioning how Principal Secretary (Home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo was interfering in the revision of electoral rolls. 

He alleged that Chuaungo was obstructing the ECs move to allow Mizoram's Bru community to vote. The community now live in neighbouring state Tripura after they fled Mizoram more than two decades ago to evade ethnic cleansing.

This move didn’t go down well with most Mizos who then started protesting and soon resorted to violence. Police stations were attacked, the district commissioner’s office was reportedly torched. 

Soon the protest got popular support from not only the influential Ranglong Youth Organisation but also from a section of the local church.

Mizoram is going to polls on November 28. The Congress is throwing its local might in this election as Mizoram is the only Congress-ruled state in the Northeast.