Guwahati: With the Mizoram chief secretary proposing the names of three IAS officers for the post of a new chief electoral officer (CEO) in the state, the NGO Coordination Committee, which is leading the protest to remove incumbent CEO SB Shashank, has expressed its satisfaction over the development.
The powerful NGO Coordination Committee is an umbrella body of major civil society organisations and student associations of Mizoram.
Speaking to EastMojo, Pu Chhuantea, secretary, NGO Coordination Committee, said, “We are happy with anyone but SB Shashank taking the post of Mizoram CEO. We would not oppose any other candidate for the same post, we just want Shashank to be out.”
The three names suggested by chief secretary Arvind Ray include Lalhmingthanga, H Lalengmawia and K Lalthawmmawia. However, the names are yet to be approved by the Election Commission.
Talking about the anger brewing against CEO Shashank, Chhuantea said, “SB Shashank was exercising his powers arbitrarily, hurting the sentiments of the local population. He has been trying to enrol the displaced Brus residing in Tripura’s transit camps into the electoral rolls of Mizoram.”
He further added, “As per the Representation of the People Act, 1950, for any person to be enrolled in any electoral list, one has to provide several documents, including residency certificate, birth certificate, etc. But, Shashank has been flouting all these rules while trying to enrol Brus, as he did not demand any such document from them. He had also instructed the same to his subordinates.”
Although the EC has agreed to the removal of Shashank, the NGO Coordination Committee has still requested the poll panel to ensure that the Brus exercise their voting rights within Mizoram.
During the 2013 assembly elections, the EC had issued a notification which allowed the Bru members to cast their votes from their respective relief camps. The following year, too, displaced voters had exercised their franchise for parliamentary election from Tripura. However, in 2014 an agreement was reached upon between the government and the EC in which the ECI had assured the state government that postal ballots would not be allowed in future polls. The same notification has not been applied for the 2018 state polls, though.
Chhuantea said, “Since the 2014 agreement is not being upheld by the EC, we demand that the notification must be revoked altogether, and the 11,232 Bru voters lodged in six Tripura relief camps be allowed to exercise their franchise at their respective polling stations in Mizoram and not in Tripura.”
Apart from the protest against Shashank, protests led by the district NGO Coordination Committee are being held in the Kolasib district of Mizoram, which turned violent. The residents there are demanding the removal of the deputy commissioner. Protesters reportedly threw stones at his office, leaving one security person injured. Chhuantea pointed out, “The DC of Kolasib is trying to enrol 218 Brus from the Tripura transit camp without the knowledge of the local people, and giving them a chance of objection.”
Thousands of Bru community members had fled Mizoram in October 1997 after ethnic clashes and have been living in camps in Tripura since then.
Election to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly will be held on November 28. The counting of votes will be held on December 11.