Amid growing demand for his ouster, Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S B Shashank on Monday said he had “no intention to hurt the sentiments” of the state’s civil societies and apologised for rankling them in any way.
Coordination Committee, an umbrella body of major civil societies and student organisations, had sought Shashank’s exit from the state, shortly after the Election Commission (EC) removed a principal secretary-level state officer Lalnunmawia Chuaungo.
A section of the media said Shashank had complained to the EC that Chuaungo was interfering with the poll process.
Election to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly is scheduled to be held on November 28.
Addressing a press meet here, the CEO said he was just fulfilling his responsibilities in accordance with the instructions of the EC.
“As the state chief electoral officer, it is my responsibility that I fulfil the mandate of the EC. I can only hope that the civil societies will understand my position. I am sorry if I have hurt anybody,” he said.
On his fallout with Chuaungo, the CEO said that he had issued a statement to the District Election Officers (DEO) and Electoral Registration Officers (ERO) on September 11 to notify that “identification slips could be used as valid documents by eligible Bru migrants in Tripura”.
Chuaungo, however, issued another order on September 13, asking the Bru refugees to not use the identification slips, except for the purpose of repatriation, he said.
Shashank alleged that the principal secretary and Mizoram Chief Secretary Arvind Ray did not issue any clarification on the September 13 order, despite EC’s instructions.
Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, has been relieved of his responsibilities in the state.
The EC has instructed him to report before the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi.
Accusing the chief electoral officer of working against the spirit of “free and fair” polls, the Coordination Committee had urged EC authorities to replace him.
Vanlalruata, the chairman of the Coordination Committee, threatened to picket the state election department if Shashank did not leave Mizoram by Monday.
Additional security personnel have been deployed at the office and residence of Shashank in view of the threats.
Earlier, too, the civil society organisations had opposed the Election Commission’s decision to conduct electoral revision of Bru voters in Tripura’s relief camps.
They also urged the EC to defranchise all Bru voters who chose to stay back in Tripura and did not return to Mizoram.