Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday said that the Union government will appoint a new chief secretary for the state who has a working understanding of the Mizo language, PTI reported.

The chief minister has made the demand to the Centre on multiple occasions, most recently during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 30.

“During our meeting in Delhi, the prime minister assured me that the Centre would appoint a chief secretary, who knows the working standard of Mizo language,” Zoramthanga told reporters on Monday.

Zoramthanga added that the current chief secretary, Renu Sharma, has to sit silently during Cabinet meetings as most ministers speak in Mizo. The chief minister said that the language barrier impedes the official’s ability to carry out administrative duties.

Sharma, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1988 batch, was appointed by the Centre on October 28 to take charge as the chief secretary of Mizoram from November 1. But, on the same day, the Mizoram government directed JC Ramthanga to take charge as chief secretary from November 1.

Sharma took charge of the post on November 2.

On October 29, Zoramthanga wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah objecting to the Centre’s appointment. He had said that several ministers in his Cabinet do not understand Hindi, adding that some even face difficulty in understanding English.

“With such background, a chief secretary without the knowledge of a working standard Mizo language will never be an effective and efficient chief secretary,” the chief minister said in his letter. “Due to this fact, the government of India never posted a chief secretary who does not know the working standard of Mizo language since the creation of the state of Mizoram.”

On Myanmar refugees

Meanwhile, on Monday, Zoramthanga also said that the prime minister has assured him that the Centre will make a plan to enable the state government to continue assisting refugees from Myanmar, The Hindu reported.

“The Centre is willing to help, but it cannot directly help the Myanmar refugees because India is not a signatory to the UN [United Nations] Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol,” the chief minister said.

He added that more than 14,000 citizens of Myanmar are currently in different parts of Mizoram.

Thousands of people, including former leaders of Myanmar, have fled to India since the military took over the country’s government following a coup on February 1.