All eyes on EC special team's meeting with Mizo NGOs

All eyes on EC special teams meeting with Mizo NGOs

New Delhi/Aizawl, All eyes are the visit of the high-level delegation from the Election Commission led by Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain to Mizoram capital to resolve the crisis arising out of the demand for the 'ouster' of state's Chief Electoral Officer S B Shashank. Mr Jain, who is also EC in-charge for poll-bound Mizoram, will be traveling to Aizawl on Friday and is likely to hold crucial deliberations with Mizoram's NGO Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of major civil societies and student bodies. The Mizo NGOs Coordination Committee has demanded that the CEO be replaced and Mr Shashank is also made to quit the state at the earliest. The demand for his replacement has been endorsed by the Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla and also the state BJP unit. Mr Shashank flew out of Aizawl on Wednesday afternoon for 'meeting' with EC top officials but no details are available on his interactions if any with the poll panel. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Mizo protestors of all age took to the streets of Aizawl and 'gheraoed' the CEO office saying Mr Shashanak will not be allowed to function. On November 2,

the EC transferred out a Mizo IAS officer and the then Principal Home Secretary Lalnunmawaia Chuaungo following complaints from CEO Mr Shashank, who later said he has only followed the rules as the senior officer was interfering in the affairs of conduct of election process in the state. Mizoram civil society leaders have accused Mr Shashank of being 'pro-Brus' as he tried to implement a decision to set up polling stations in Bru refugees relief camps in Tripura and also had ordered extra central forces from outside Mizoram. Mizoram leaders and social activists want that the Brus should be made to vote in designated polling stations inside Mizoram as other Mizo residents and others do whenever they are are outside their respective states. " S B Shashank, CEO Mizoram, should be replaced and transferred from Mizoram immediately, to whom the people of Mizoram, the Mizoram government employees association, church leaders, journalists and all NGOs do not have confidence upon him to carry on the task of general elections of Mizoram to be held on November 28," said a statement by Mizo NGOs including the influential Young Mizo Association.

According to NGO Coordination Committee chairman Vanlalruata, also associated with the potent Young Mizo Association, the civil society bodies are spearheading a movement against the possible permission to exercise franchise by the 11,232 Bru voters in Tripura at the relief camps. Mr Shashank has been accused of taking a pro-Bru stance much to the anguish of the Mizo political leaders and pressure groups. Mizo groups say the 'Bru or Reang refugees' have been reluctant to 'return' Mizoram and thus their demand for putting up polling stations in the relief camps in Tripura was unjustified. There have been at least six attempted repatriation by the centre and the state governments of Mizoram and Tripura since 2010 but Brus have been reluctant to return. CEO Shashank also courted controversy when he sought deployment of huge personnel of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to be deployed in the Bru inhabited areas much against the 'wishes' of the state government and the then Principal Secretary for Home Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, a local Mizo officer himself.

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