Election row in Mizoram; NGOs’ body demands removal of CEO Shashank

Election row in Mizoram; NGOs’ body demands removal of CEO Shashank

Aizawl, Nov 3: In a rather unprecedented turn of events, the influential civil society body-- the Mizoram's NGO Coordination Committee-- on Friday demanded immediate ouster of the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S B Shashank and set the deadline of Monday, November 5, for the same.

The umbrella organisation of poll-bound Mizoram state's major civil societies and student bodies accused Mr Shashank of 'working against the efforts' by all stake holders to ensure free, fair and peaceful polls to the 40-member state assembly to be held on November 28.

"The civil societies in Mizoram have been working to ensure free, fair and peaceful polls but recent actions of Shashank were in contravention to such efforts and NGO Coordination Committee was of the opinion that the CEO is no longer fit to conduct the electoral process," the statement in local Mizo language said.

The NGO bodies demanded that Mr Shashank 'leave the assignment' as CEO and also 'quit' the state by November 5 evening.

They also suggested that Mr Shashank be replaced by an official who "receives the confidence of the Mizo people" to conduct the assembly polls.

The civil society leaders including leaders of powerful Young Mizo Association (YMA) were said to be recently unhappy with Mr Shashank for his alleged 'subtle support' to the cause of Brus or Reangs.

The apex body of the Bru refugees has earlier this month appealed to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O P Rawat to set up polling booths in their relief camps in Tripura so that they could exercise franchise in the Mizoram assembly election on November 28.

Mizo groups and public leaders have held this demand 'unjustified' and said if the Brus have been 'repatriated' to Mizoram - then they can vote in "normal polling booths only".

"Why such special arrangement can be made, this is undemocratic," YMA president Vanlalruata has been stating this. The Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF) president A Sawibunga has earlier said that 8,777 Bru refuges lodged in relief camps were enrolled in Mamit district of Mizoram bordering Tripura and arrangements could be made for their voting in relief camps only.

Incidentally, the ultimatum by the apex NGO Coordination on Shashank was served only a day after media reports suggested that Mr Shashank wrote to the Election Commission of India complaining that the state Principal Secretary for Home and Finance Lalnunmawia Chuaungo was "interfering with the election process".

Mizo leaders and NGO bodies say Brus have shown 'reluctance' to return to Mizoram despite the tripartite pact and by a stipulated deadline of September 30, only 40 of the 5,407 Bru refugee families returned to Mizoram from the six refugee camps in Tripura.

Earlier, the MBDPF leaders also expressed apprehension that the Brus could have to do with 'security risk' if they go to Mizoram to cast their votes.(UNI)