Mizoram impasse ends after EC team meets protesting NGOs
The week-long political impasse in Mizoram ended on Friday with a team of the Election Commission (EC) officials assuring the influential NGOs and civil society groups that they will apprise the poll body about the demand to replace the state’s chief electoral officer (CEO).
After an hour-long meeting in Aizawl on Friday evening between a high-level EC team and representatives of the Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee (MNCC), it was also decided that Bru refugees from Mizoram residing in Tripura relief camps will have to come to Mizoram to cast their votes for the November 28 polls. A proposal to let the refugees to vote in their camps had angered the local Mizo population and civil society groups.
The standoff started on October 29 with CEO SB Shashank complaining to the EC about alleged interference in the revision of electoral rolls of Bru refugees by Mizoram’s principal secretary (home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo. The EC ordered the transfer of Chuaungo -- a Mizo IAS officer from Gujarat cadre and on interstate deputation to Mizoram -- outside the state, triggering protests in the state.
The MNCC had given an ultimatum to Shashank on November 2 to leave the state by November 5. With the CEO failing to meet that deadline, thousands of Mizos had demonstrated on the streets of Aizawl and other towns in the state on Tuesday and Wednesday. Political parties including the ruling Congress and the BJP also sided with the MNCC. Chief minister Lal Thanhawla and state BJP chief JV Hluna wrote to prime minister Narendra Modi seeking his interference to remove Shashank.
After Friday’s meeting, the MNCC claimed that they had received assurance that Shashank will be removed. “The official process will take 2-3 days, but the EC team assured this to us in the meeting,” Vanlalruata, chairperson of MNCC, said. The EC refused to comment on the matter but officials familiar with the matter in the EC in New Delhi said the commission will take a call on Shashank when its team returns from the tour.