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

Aizawl: Eleven hours after it announced demonstration before the office of Mizoram Chief Secretary Renu Sharma from Tuesday to prevent her from attending office, the NGO Coordination Committee cancelled its plan after it learnt that Sharma was in Delhi.

A civil society group in Mizoram has cancelled its proposed

The conglomerate of five major civil society organisations and student bodies, including Central Young Mizo Association (CYMA) and state apex student organisation Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) had announced that it would set up a picket before the chief secretary’s office to express disappointment over the Centre’s alleged apathy towards their demand for a Mizo chief secretary. 

The Coordination Committee chairman and CYMA president R. Lalngheta said they have cancelled the proposed demonstration after confirming that the chief secretary is visiting Delhi and will be out of station for some days. 

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

“Our main motive was to draw the Centre’s attention towards appointment of a Mizo IAS officer as long as there is an eligible person for the top official post. The Centre has ignored our repeated appeals,” he told EastMojo.

Lalngheta said the coordination committee would decide its future course of action whether or not to hold a protest once Sharma returns.

Earlier in the day, Langheta told reporters that the civil society group had submitted representations several times to the Centre, urging it to appoint an indigenous Mizo IAS officer as the state chief secretary.  

Also read: Mizoram: New chief secretary Renu Sharma arrives in Aizawl

The leader said that past instances have revealed several problems coupled with language barrier between the top official and local communities when a non-local IAS officer was posted as the chief secretary.

Lalngheta had also said that they had urged the Centre to appoint a Mizo IPS officer to head the state police as Director General of Police (DGP). David Lalrinsanga, a Mizo IPS officer of AGMUT cadre, who is currently posted as BSF IGP in the Central Armed Police Force frontier headquarters in Rajasthan, is the batch mate of the incumbent state DGP Devesh Chandra Srivastava.

Lalrinsanga and Srivastava joined the IPS in 1995. In November 2018, the NGO Coordination Committee had successfully organised a state-wide protest, which compelled the Election Commission of India (ECI) to remove state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) SB Shashank over his alleged ‘pro Bru’ stance and complaint against state chief secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, which had triggered an outrage in the state.

However, this time, the plan to picket before the chief secretary’s office had sparked public outcry on various social media platforms with netizens terming the decision “ridiculous”.

Most Mizos care for the reputation of the coordination committee, which is highly respected in the state for being instrumental in good governance and several measures, including sustaining the Mizo code of ethics ‘Tlawmngaina’.

Also read: Renu Sharma or Ramthanga? It’s Mizoram vs Centre on Chief Secy

One such netizen is famous columnist and retired pastor Revd Chuauthuama, who termed the decision “ridiculous” and wanted the committee to concentrate on reformative measures and promotion of education in order to produce more and more IAS officers from the state.

An official, who chose to be anonymous, said that the decision, if executed, might spoil the reputation of the Mizos as it could show them being ‘racist’ before others. Some netizens also alleged that the decision was politically motivated or triggered by vested interest, which Lalngheta strongly denied. 

The issue of chief secretary had hit headlines when the Centre appointed Renu Sharma, an AGMUT cadre IAS officer of the 1988 batch, as the chief secretary of Mizoram in October 2021. 

The same day, the Mizoram government had also issued a notification, directing JC Ramthanga, additional chief secretary of the chief minister, to take charge of the chief secretary until further order. Sharma has a good record of service when she was posted in different posts under the Mizoram government in the past.

A day after Sharma’s appointment, Zoramthanga had written to Home Minister Amit Shah, urging him to modify the Centre’s order of appointing Renu Sharma as the Chief Secretary of the state and instead appoint a person who knows the working standard of Mizo language for the post.

Also read: Mizoram CS row: Snubbed for supporting BJP? CM asks Amit Shah

In the letter, the chief minister had pointed out that none of the cabinet ministers understand Hindi and some even have problems understanding English.

“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,” Zoramthanga had said in the letter.

He further added in the 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.”

The chief secretary issue has revealed a huge crisis and vulnerable situation of the northeastern state due to lack of Mizo IAS officers. Despite holding the distinction of being the second-highest literate state in the country, Mizoram has failed to produce any IAS officer from its soil for the past 13 years. The last Mizo to crack the UPSC examination was Grace Lalrindiki Pachuau, the daughter of former state chief secretary Vanhela Pachuau. Grace joined the IAS in 2014 as Tamil Nadu cadre and is now posted in that state. 

According to a retired IAS officer, till Monday there were only two Mizo IAS officers eligible for the CS post. One is JC Ramthanga, a Manipur cadre of 1989 batch posted on inter-cadre deputation as the additional chief secretary to the Mizoram Chief Minister, the other is a Jharkhand cadre officer named Lalbiaktluanga Khiangte, who joined the coveted service in 1988.

Ramthanga retired on superannuation on Tuesday, while Khiangte, who was earlier posted as Revenue Commissioner under the Mizoram government, has already returned to Jharkhand on completion of 5 years inter-cadre deputation. 

From the AGMUT cadre, Mizoram has only one IAS officer – Dr.  Franklin Laltinkhuma, who is now posted in Delhi. 

Laltinkhuma, who joined the IAS in 2006, had served as a deputy commissioner and later as secretary under the erstwhile Congress government headed by former chief minister Lal Thanhawla. 

Mizoram: Little public support for NGOs’ plan to hold ‘non-Mizo’ CS from office

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