The Election Commission (EC) on Friday directed the Mizoram government to remove a principal secretary-level officer on charges of interfering with the poll process.
Shortly after this, an umbrella organisation of major civil societies and student bodies of the state demanded the removal of Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S B Shashank, claiming that he has lost the trust of the people.
The NGO Coordination Committee also asked the CEO to leave the state by Monday evening.
Election to the 40-member Assembly will be held on November 28 and the EC issued the notification for it earlier in the day. The results will be out on December 11.
“... the Election Commission is satisfied that the continuance of Mr. Lalnunmawia Chuaungo as Principal Secretary (Home), in State Government of Mizoram will have adverse impact on conduct of smooth, free and fair election process in Mizoram,” the EC order said.
The EC also directed that Chuaungo shall be relieved of his present responsibilities with immediate effect and his services placed at the disposal of Ministry of Home Affairs.
He would not be assigned any work relating to Mizoram, or deputed to Mizoram till the process of elections is over, the EC’s order No. 23/MIZ/2018 said.
The order came after reports appeared in a section of the media that state Chief Electoral Officer SB Shashank had complained to the EC that Chuaungo was interfering with the election process.
Chuaungo has been working in Mizoram on inter-cadre deputation on loan from Gujarat since April this year.
The EC said the order followed “a series of incidents” that took place in Mizoram “causing concern to the commission regarding the successful completion of summary revision of Electoral Rolls and also successful conduct of free and fair election in Mizoram.”
It mentioned six incidents mainly related to the arrangements to enable Bru refugees staying in camps in Tripura take part in the voting process. Thousands of Bru community people had fled Mizoram in the late 1990s following ethnic clashes.
“The NGO Coordination Committee requested Shashank not to continue his job by leaving his post as CEO and also leave the state of Mizoram before dusk on November 5,” a statement issued by the umbrella organisation said.
Accusing Shashank of working against the spirit of free, fair and peaceful polls, the committee urged the authorities to replace him with an official who had the confidence of the people.