Members of civil society groups protested in Aizawl on Tuesday against the role of Mizoram’s chief electoral officer, SB Shashank, in the transfer of Principal Home Secretary L Chuaungo, reports said. Chuaungo was transferred by the Election Commission after Shashank accused him and the state’s Congress government of interfering with the revision of the electoral rolls ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.
The protest outside Shashank’s office was called off at 12.30 pm in view of the impending visit of a three-member Election Commission team, PTI quoted NGO Coordination Committee chairperson Vanlalruata as saying.
The Election Commission team, which was expected to arrive on Tuesday, is scheduled to take stock of the situation in the state and hold discussions with Chief Secretary Arvind Ray, leaders of the civil society groups and other stakeholders. The panel includes Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer L Khiangte, Election Commission Director Nikhil Kumar and Election Commission Secretary SB Joshi.
Chuaungo had also allegedly objected to making special arrangements for Bru refugees from Mizoram to vote at their camps in Tripura, The Times of India reported on Friday, and questioned Shashank’s decisions regarding the deployment of security forces for the polls.
The Mizoram Assembly elections will be held on November 28.
Vanlalruata said he hoped that the delegation would understand the ground reality in the state and remove Shashank from the post to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.
On Monday, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, demanding Shashank’s removal. Thanhawla told Modi that the election watchdog Mizoram People’s Forum, a joint action committee of churches in the state, and some leading non-governmental organisations have demanded that Shashank be removed from his post.
Meanwhile, Aizawl and Mamit observed a shutdown, with most schools, shops and offices remaining closed, NDTV reported. Protests against the chief electoral officer are also being held in at least five other districts.
‘Misplaced and biased allegations’
Meanwhile, a union of state government employees said they would not cooperate with the Election Commission unless Shashank is transferred out of the state by 4 pm on Friday,
In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat, the Federation of Mizoram Government Employees and Workers described as “misplaced, biased and wrongful” the allegations against Chuaungo.
“The federation is of the view that this act [transferring Chuaungo] of the Commission is very high-handed, and unwarranted taking the plea of its authority in matters of electioneering process,” read the letter. “This has sent a very wrong signal upon the government employees and makes them vulnerable on any of their actions in the course of the election.”
The federation also expressed concern about the number of Central Armed Police Forces personnel being deployed in the state for the election. “This scale of requisition of the CAPF personnel sends a signal that the ECI and the CEO do not have faith in the security personnel of the state government,” it added.