Mizoram poll officer retorts after quit Mizoram diktat

Mizoram poll officer retorts after quit Mizoram diktat

Chief electoral officer, Mizoram S B Shashank in Aizawl on Monday. Photo by Puia Chhangte

Faced with "quit Mizoram" diktat by influential NGOs over recent transfer of a senior state government officer, S B Shashank, the chief electoral officer, Mizoram, on Monday said the officer had interfered in the preparation of electoral rolls of Bru refugees and deployment of central security forces.

Based on complaints by Shashank, the Election Commission on Friday issued an order to remove Mizoram principal secretary (home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo. Sources said the principal secretary had tried to stop an Election Commission’s decision to allow Bru refugees to cast their votes in relief camps in neighbouring Tripura, where they have been languishing since 1997. Many Brus had fled their villages in Mizoram following an ethnic clash and had taken shelter in Tripura.

The MHA, Mizoram and the Tripura government had signed an agreement in July this year, according to which electoral rolls would be revised for the Brus after their repatriation to Mizoram. But the commission decided to allow the Bru refugees to cast their votes in the relief camps as repatriation did not pick up.

This angered the local NGOs, who alleged that Shashank was working against interests of the Mizos and issued a diktat to quit Mizoram by Monday evening.

“The chief electoral officer issued an order on September 11 to the district election officers that identification slips of the Brus can be used a valid document for bonafide residence of Bru migrants but the principal secretary, home issued an order on September 13 saying that the identification slips can’t be used except for repatriation. On September 24, the commission asked for clarification on the order but got no reply till October 24,” said a statement issued by Shashank.

He also said the home department also questioned why 40 companies of central security forces were granted by the MHA for security during the elections, which is an interference into the process of security management during the conduct of elections, said the statement.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla also wrote a letter to home minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday seeking his intervention. He said there was no threat to the Brus to cast their votes in Mizoram. Shashank’s security has been beefed up as the local NGOs are likely to launch an agitation from Tuesday.