Mizoram Chief Secretary Dr. Renu Sharma
Mizoram Chief Secretary Dr. Renu Sharma (L) with Chief Minister Zoramthanga (File image)

Aizawl: The NGO co-ordination committee comprising five apex NGOs of Mizoram – CYMA (Central Young Mizo Association), MUP (Mizoram Upa Pawl), MHIP (Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl), MZP (Mizo Zirlai Pawl) and MSU (Mizo Students Union) – on Monday announced that they will hold picketing outside Chief Secretary Dr. Renu Sharma’s office starting Tuesday.  

According to the NGO representatives, the decision was made after repeated requests to leaders at the Central level to appoint a Mizo Chief Secretary did not yield any result.

“Last year, we submitted an application letter to the Union Home Ministry and also to the Prime Minister of India, and subsequently submitted an appeal to the Vice President, Governor of Mizoram and other officials of the Union Home Ministry. But unfortunately, the Union Home Ministry appointed a non-Mizo Chief Secretary for the same post,” said Professor Lalnuntluanga, All NGO Coordination Committee Secretary.  

All NGO Coordination Committee hold picketing outside Chief Secretary Dr. Renu Sharma’s office starting Tuesday

Clarifying that the NGO committee isn’t against a non-Mizo chief secretary, he said, “But thinking about the unique culture and the uniqueness of the Mizo Society, the NGO coordination committee sent an appeal to the Union Ministry to appoint a Mizo Chief Secretary if qualified Mizos are there. Presently, we have two qualified IAS officials for this post. But unfortunately, the Centre has appointed a non-Mizo Chief Secretary.”

“The need of having a Mizo Chief secretary is that if a Mizo is appointed, then from the lowest level government servant to the common man, everyone can approach the Chief Secretary without having any language barrier,” he added. 

In an interaction with media persons, CYMA president Lalngheta said, “While there are many eligible Mizos who could be Chief Secretary, the Central government has ignored our demands and we believe this is due to lack of understanding of the minorities from the government’s part.” 

The NGO representatives said while they do not have any personal prejudices towards the Chief Secretary Renu Sharma, they find it hard to accept the fact that the Central government has refused to hear the people’s appeal even though there are eligible Mizo IAS personnel from the state.

Meanwhile, after the decision to hold picketing outside the Chief Secretary’s office was shared on local media, social media platforms such as Whatsapp and Facebook were flooded with posts condemning the planned move by the NGO Coordination Committee.

Mizoram Chief Secretary Dr. Renu Sharma
The Center had appointed senior IAS officer Renu Sharma as the new Chief Secretary of Mizoram on October 28, 2021

The public, which is usually in favor of the NGO in its different initiatives, this time questioned the decision of the NGO committee, saying if the Chief Secretary has not committed any wrongdoing, there is no reason to protest her post. 

A government employee, on the condition of anonymity, told EastMojo that the entire incident shows “how racist we Mizos are”.

“When there came a demand for the Election CEO SB Shashank to be removed from his post, all the people of Mizoram came together because the issue was worthy of support. But this time, what the NGOCC has demanded is totally different and the general public, especially the educated masses, are not in support of it. It just shows how racist we Mizos are.” 

He said the current Chief Secretary did commendable work as the GAD commissioner and in 2018, a lot of new people were recruited into the government under Dr Sharma’s initiatives.

“The only reason they have given against her is that she is a non-Mizo, which is baseless… And why are they only targeting the Chief Secretary? Even the DGP is a non-Mizo and different DCs, department heads are non-Mizos. We have not had an IPS for 26 years, which means we will have a non-Mizo DGP for the next 30 years. Do we have to keep blocking them just because they are non-Mizos?”

K Zothanpara, a journalist at a leading newspaper in Mizoram, questioned the decision saying, “What has Dr. Renu Sharma done wrong? Has she committed any error in her work? Has she acted or spoken in any way that is offensive to the Mizo people and has she created any problems for the people?”

“If there are no solid answers to these questions, then I believe holding a picketing and stopping her from going to office just because she is a non-Mizo is not right. I believe even God would not support such initiative. We have very few Mizo IAS officers, and even the senior ones we have are AGMUT cadres. It will be very difficult to appoint a Mizo as Chief Secretary in Mizoram. It is not possible to do that in our present situation,” Zothanpara added.

A government official who spoke to EastMojo on the condition of anonymity said, “As an official, I have worked with many IAS officers in the District offices. And to be frank, they are more efficient than Mizo MCS (Mizo Civil Service) officers.” 

“The NGO in their statement said the PMO, President/Vice-president did not pay heed to their demand. But that is so baseless. Our NGOs see themselves in such a high-level that they think they can bully the Central government the same way they do for state-level teacher transfers. It seems like the NGO is not truly aware of what they are demanding. When a Mizo IAS is posted in another state, no one takes such kind of actions. We have to learn to work with everyone,” the government employee added.  

The Center had appointed senior IAS officer Renu Sharma as the new Chief Secretary of Mizoram on October 28, 2021. She was posted in Mizoram on previous occasions and has held the post of Commissioner and Secretary in the finance and general administration departments between June 2011 and August 2012. Again, in 2016, she was posted as principal secretary in the state home and personnel & administrative reforms department.

Mizoram Chief Secretary Dr. Renu Sharma
Mizoram Chief Secretary Dr. Renu Sharma (File photo)

After learning of Sharma’s appointment, Chief Minister Zoramthanga had written to Home Minister Amit Shah to appoint a Mizo-speaking officer, saying even cabinet ministers have difficulty speaking in English and Hindi. 

“The Mizo people by and large, do not understand Hindi, and none of my Cabinet Ministers understand Hindi, some of them even have problems with the English language. With such a background, a Chief Secretary without the knowledge of a working standard Mizo language will never be an effective and efficient Chief Secretary,” he had written.

He had also said that there has never been an appointment of a Chief Secretary who does not know the working standard of Mizo language since the creation of the state.

The NGO Coordination Committee plans to continue their picketing until they see expected results. “If our appeal is not granted by the Centre, then we will chalk out the future plan of action accordingly,” the committee  

Michael Zosangliana, a netizen, said he believes this initiative by the NGO Coordination Committee is an attempt at patriotism in the wrong direction. “This is a sign of patriotism gone wrong. They are just trying to uplift a sense of patriotism but in the wrong terms. And why does the NGO think they can carry forward something that even the ministers and state level leaders cannot do?” Zosangliana said.

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