Thousands protest in Mizoram seeking removal of Chief Electoral Officer

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]housands are holding a peaceful protest at the office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram, following the tussle between civil society groups and the state’s top poll officer after the latter ordered the removal of home secretary, Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, accusing him of interfering with the poll process. Assembly elections in Mizoram are scheduled on November 28

The Election Commission has decided to send a three-member delegation to take charge of the situation, after the unprecedented scenario, where the common people and the state poll panel are at loggerheads. The delegation has been tasked with talking to the powerful civil society groups, which are backed by the church, reported NDTV.

Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, requesting him to immediately remove the Chief Electoral Officer, SB Sashank. The CM wrote, “The latest move by Election Commission, I am afraid, will further belittle the integration process of the government, especially with the new focus on Act East Policy.”

It all started after Sashank sent a 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.

Young Mizo Association (YMA) backed by the church, is protesting the transfer of the Chuaungo, who is a local Mizo, and they want the removal of Sashank. Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are supporting the protesters.