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Election Commission Removes Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer After Protests

The NGO Coordination Committee has been demanding that Shashank be replaced as chief electoral officer and transferred outside the northeastern state.

New Delhi: Accepting the demand of some civil society groups, the Election Commission on Thursday removed S B Shashank as chief electoral officer of poll-bound Mizoram and appointed IAS officer Ashish Kundra in his place.

The order came after some civil society groups in Mizoram demanded Shashank’s ouster over a row on allowing Bru voters lodged in Tripura relief camps to exercise their franchise from there.

“The Election Commission of India in consultation with the Government of Mizoram hereby nominates Ashish Kundra as the chief electoral officer for the state of Mizoram with immediate effect,” a notification issued by the EC said.

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The poll panel had earlier asked the Mizoram government for a panel of names to replace Shashank, who has been camping in Delhi since the agitation against him began a fortnight ago.

Mizoram goes to the polls on November 28.

The NGO Coordination Committee, the apex body of civil societies and students’ organisations in Mizoram, has been demanding that Shashank be replaced as chief electoral officer and transferred outside the north-eastern state.

It also demanded that 11,232 Bru voters 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 EC removed the state’s principal secretary (Home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo.

Shawshank reportedly sought the deployment of additional Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in the state. This did not go down well with the committee.

Earlier this month, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue. “… 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,” he said.

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The EC sent a deputy election commissioner to Aizawl to talk with the agitators.

Thousands of people from the Bru community fled Mizoram in 1997 following ethnic clashes. They have since been living in six relief camps in Tripura.

Civil society organisations have opposed the Election Commission’s decision to conduct an electoral revision of Bru voters in Tripura relief camps in the past too.

They urged the EC to disenfranchise all Bru voters who chose to stay back in Tripura and did not return to Mizoram.

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