Aizawl, November 7: Protests demanding the ouster of Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S B Shashank were called off by the NGO Coordination Committee Wednesday after the state election official left for New Delhi after being summoned by the Election Commission. The protests were called off at 1 pm after the CEO left Aizawl city for Lengpui airport, NGO Coordination Committee chairman Vanlalruata said.
The CEO left for Delhi by the evening flight. Earlier in the day, Shashank said he had been summoned by the Election Commission and he would meet the poll panel in the national capital on Thursday. The agitation demanding his removal had been launched on Tuesday and resumed Wednesday morning by a large number of Young Mizo Association members in front of the CEO's office from 8 am. The protesters later dispersed. Mizoram Assembly Elections 2018: Election Commission Requests Government to Ensure Peaceful Polls.
The Assembly election in Mizoram is scheduled for November 28.
Vanlalruata said the coordination committee would wait and watch the decision taken by the Election Commission of India on the CEO. "If Shashank comes back, the agitation will be relaunched," Vanlalruata said. The NGO Coordination Committee, the apex body of civil societies and students' organisations in the north-eastern state, has been demanding that Shashank be replaced and transferred outside the state.
It also demanded that 11,232 Bru voters lodged in six Tripura relief camps be allowed to exercise their franchise at their respective polling stations in Mizoram and not in Tripura as committed by the poll panel in 2014. The committee had called for Shashank's exit from the state shortly after the Election Commission (EC) removed the state's principal secretary (Home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo.
He had allegedly sought deployment of additional central armed police forces (CAPF) in the state which did not go down well with the committee. On Monday, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that "as people have lost faith in him (Shashank), the only solution for the smooth conduct of the Assembly elections 2018 would be removal of CEO S B Shashank from office forthwith."
The meeting of a visiting three-member EC team, state government officials and leaders of the NGO Coordination Committee on the current standoff here Tuesday night remained inconclusive as the team said the final call would be made by the commission. The team members said that they would submit their findings to the commission. The agitators are also protesting against the removal of Chuaungo, a native of the state and Gujarat-cadre IAS officer.
Thousands of people from the Bru community had fled Mizoram in 1997 following ethnic clashes. They have since been lodged in six relief camps in Tripura.
In the past too, the civil society organisations had opposed the Election Commission's decision to conduct electoral revision of Bru voters in Tripura relief camps. They urged the EC to defranchise all Bru voters who chose to stay back in Tripura and did not return to Mizoram. A 12-hour bandh was observed at Mamit town on Tuesday along the Mizoram-Tripura-Bangladesh border to support the agitation against the Mizoram CEO. Rallies and pickets were organised by the NGO Coordination Committee across the state.