Widespread protest against ouster of SB Shashank called off for now; civil bodies say their future course of action to depend on EC’s decision
Aizawl: Acknowledging the dissatisfaction brewing against the alleged misconduct of state chief electoral officer (CEO) SB Shashank with thousands of people from Mizoram taking to the streets demanding his ouster, the Election Commission (EC) summoned the controversial officer to New Delhi for a meeting to be held on Thursday.
The EC also said that it will send a high-level team to the poll-bound state on Friday to hold further discussions with the state government officials and the leaders of the NGO Coordination Committee, an umbrella body of NGOs leading the protest. The team will be headed by deputy election commissioner Sudeep Jain, in-charge of Mizoram.
The widespread protest has been called off for now, as the official has left for the national capital. With all eyes on the outcome of the meeting underway in Delhi, the civil bodies have said that their future course of action will depend on the EC’s decision.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla, who is contesting from two seats, could not file his nomination papers in Serchhip as agitators continued their demonstration in front of the office of the returning officer.
Following the protests, a three-member team of the Election Commission comprising Jharkhand CEO L Khiangte; Nikhil Kumar, director at Election Commission; and S B Joshi, secretary Election Commission had met top NGO leaders including representatives from the potent Young Mizo Association (YMA), led by chairman Vanlalruata, and top Mizoram government officials, including chief secretary Arvind Ray , in Aizawl on Tuesday evening to discuss about the joint resolution submitted by the joint NGO Coordination Committee.
While the election commissioners are said to have accepted the broad contours of the resolution, the NGOs, however, still await the removal of Shashank.
The Election Commission had on Tuesday issued a statement asking the Mizoram government to ensure peaceful polls in the state.
The poll body had removed the principal secretary (home department), L Chuaungo, after the CEO had complained to the EC accusing Chuaungo of “direct interference” in the soon to be held polls.
More than 40,000 people had been protesting in Aizawl, expressing their demand for the upcoming assembly elections to be held in a free and fair manner in the state and accusing Shashank of bias for ‘Bru’ voters as he allegedly tried to implement a decision to set up polling stations in Bru refugees relief camps in Tripura. The civil bodies are demanding for the Bru community to cast their vote in Mizoram only accusing the administration of attempting to enroll Bru voters without proper procedures. They are also alleging his hand in the removal of principal secretary (home) Lalnunmawia Chuaung, a native of the state.
Meanwhile, the protests demanding removal of names of displaced Bru people living in camps in Tripura from the electoral rolls turned violent late on Tuesday night in Kolasib. Protesters reportedly threw stones at the deputy commissioner’s office and at least one security personnel was injured.
The Assembly elections in Mizoram will be held in a single phase on November 28 and the counting of votes on December 11.