Mizo students, social activists Gherao CEO’s office

Mizo students, social activists Gherao CEO’s office

Aizawl, Nov 6: A large number of Mizo students, volunteers of Young Mizo Association and other social organisations under the aegis of NGOs Committee 'gheraoed' the office of the Chief Electoral Officer S B Shashank here to protest his style of functioning.

The NGO's body has announced that Mr Shashank, who is being seen as taking a pro-Brus stance and is also responsible for transfer of a Mizo IAS officer as Home Secretary, would not be allowed to attend office.

Volunteers sat with banner and raised slogans against Mr Shashank. "People of all age are gathered here today. It is a protest day, it is the question of Mizo identity and our fight," said L. Zoramsanga, 45.

A large number of students squatted on the road at Treasury Square near CEO's office singing local 'Mizo patriotic song'. The YMA and other civil society bodies have appealed to the owners of the commercial vehicles "not to allow use of their trucks" to transport central paramilitary forces from 'outside' to Mizoram.

The NGO Coordination Committee also appealed to the Federation of Mizoram Government Employees and Workers (FMGEW) to support the agitation and cease work from Tuesday. Volunteers of Young Mizo Association (YMA) on Monday stopped private trucks and buses going to Silchar in Assam to transport or bring in central armed police force for deployment in poll-bound Mizoram.

The move was in protest against state chief electoral officer (CEO) S B Shashank, who was served with 'Quit Mizoram' notice on Friday last. "The quit notice served to CEO comes into force as the November 5 (Monday) deadline ends. Buses and private trucks were stopped on Monday itself near Kolasib - about 90 km from here - while they were going down to Silchar," a source told UNI.

Election Commission on Friday, November 2, ordered removal of Principal Secretary Home Lalnunmawaia Chuaungo, a Gujarat cadre Mizo IAS officer on deputation to Mizoram on the ground that the concerned official was disturbing smooth, free and fair election process.

The order of the EC signed by Secretary S B Joshi also stated that the poll panel in Delhi has approved the name of Lalrinliana Fasai, a 1997 batch officer from AGUMT cadre, to be the new Secretary Home.

The actions against Lalnunmawaia Chuaungo was taken following formal complaints from the CEO

S. B. Shashank that the then Principal Home Secretary was "interfering with the election process".

The issue essentially relates to Mr Shashank's allegedly 'subtle support' to the cause of Brus or Reangs.

The apex body of the Bru refugees had last month appealed to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O P Rawat to set up polling booths in 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 and are to take part in the elections in Mizoram - then they ought to vote in "normal polling booths only".

"Why such special arrangement can be made, this is undemocratic," YMA president Vanlalruata has said.

The Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples Forum (MBDPF) president A Sawibunga had 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.

But no sooner the news of replacement of the Home Secretary by the Election Commission reached Mizoram on Friday evening, the influential civil society body -- the Mizoram's NGO Coordination Committee -- demanded immediate ouster of the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Mr Shashank and set the deadline of Monday, November 5, for the same.

In quite unprecedented developments, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and also state BJP chief J V Hluna in their letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanded the ouster of CEO Shashank.

For his part, Mr Shashank said on Monday that he was only doing his job and following the rules and had no intention to hurt the sentiments of Mizos. "I am sorry, if I have hurt the sentiments of the local population," he has said at a press conference which was boycotted by a section of journalists. (UNI)