Mizoram elections: Protests seek Chief Electoral Officer’s removal, EC sends in team to probe

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Published: November 7, 2018 11:02:21 AM

On Tuesday morning, over 40,000 people took part in a rally, in Aizwal, demanding the removal of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Mizoram. The protestors raised allegations against CEO SB Shahsank of bias in conducting the upcoming Mizoram Assembly Elections.

Thousands protest outside Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer S B Shashank’s office. (IE)

On Tuesday morning, over 40,000 people took part in a rally, in Aizwal, demanding the removal of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Mizoram. The protestors raised allegations against CEO SB Shahsank of bias in conducting the upcoming Mizoram Assembly Elections. A three-member committee has also been dispatched by the Election Commission to look into the matters.

This happened after Mizoram CM Lal Thanhawla wrote to PM Narendra Modi demanding removal of  SB Shahsank. The Election Commission team sent in the state to probe into the matter is led by Jharkhand CEO L Khiangte – who has also started meeting the Chief Secretary and representatives of the people – who have been demanding the CEO’s transfer.

Apart from CM Lal Thanhawla, the Federation of Mizoram Government Employees and workers has also wreitten to the Election Commission. They threatened EC of not cooperating in the upcoming election on November 28, if Shashank in not transferred before 4 pm of November 9th.

Shashank, however, expressed apology and told Indian Express that, “I was just doing my job, I appeal to the people to undersatnd that. If I have done anyting to hurt anyone, I am sorry.” He added that, he has done nothing wrong or illegal.

Previously, Shashank had also complained to EC about interference of the state in the upcoming assembly elections. As a result of which, Mizoram Principal Secretary L Chuaungo was removed. In the complaint, he had also mentioned about alleged insensitivity regarding voting rights of the Bru community of Mizoram, who stay in relief camps in Tripura. And, also mentioned about Chuaungo’s alleged involvement in revision of the electoral rolls and using the central forces.

Speaking about the letter, Shashank defended it saying that Chuaungo’s direct involvement was found. “He was interfering in revision of rolls (of the Bru) and causing hindrance in our work,” he was quoted as saying by IE.

The Bru community with a strength of almost 30,000 was displaced from Mizoram nearly 21 years ago due to ethnic clashes, and is staying in six relief camps across Northern Tripura. In July, the Union Home Minister had announced signing of an agreement facilitating the Bru community’s return to Mizoram, however, only around 180 people were shifted.

The community, with nearly 10000 voters, thus demanded polling booths with in their relief camps. The civil society groups denied it saying, that no election can be conducted outside the state.

The Tuesday rally was organised by the NGO Coordination Committee, and saw a participation from church bodies to political parties to student unions. Lalhmachhuana, general secretary of the central committee of the Young Mizo Association, told IE that, in 2014 the EC promised them that the displaced people will not cast their votes outside the state.

“The NGOs of Mizoram have repeatedly requested the EC that no electoral process, can take place outside Mizoram but Shashank carried out roll revision in the relief camps in Tripura. We feel that if Shashank continues, polling booths might come up in the camps,”
he said.

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