Protests for the removal of Mizoram chief electoral officer (CEO) SB Sheshank continued in Aizawl Wednesday, even as the Election Commission (EC) decided to send a senior official for talks with the apex body leading the stir while accepting the “broad contours” of its resolution on the CEO and Bru refugees submitted to a poll panel delegation.
The Election Commission said it has accepted the “broad contours” of the demand of protesters in Mizoram, where assembly elections will be held on November 28.
The protesters are seeking state chief electoral officer SB Sheshank and that the Bru refugees return to Mizoram to vote, instead of in their camps in Tripura
After thousands of people gathered outside Sheshank’s office in Aizawl on Tuesday to seek his removal ahead of the November 28 assembly polls, an EC team comprising Jharkhand CEO Lalbiakthanga Khiangte, EC director Nikhil Kumar and EC secretary S.B. Joshi held talks with the Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee, an umbrella organization of non-government organisations and civil society groups.
Following the talks, the Coordination Committee Wednesday submitted a resolution, seeking the poll panel stand by its April 2014 commitment that in any future parliamentary or assembly elections in Mizoram, the Bru refugees living in camps in neighbouring Tripura could only vote within the state. It also reiterated the demand that Sheshank be removed from his post and the state.
“Considering the urgency of the matter, a full Commission meeting was convened today (7th Nov 2018) to further build on this mutual understanding.
After due deliberations of the resolution, the Committee, while accepting the broad contours of the resolution passed by the All NGO. decided to depute a higher-level ECI team led by Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain, incharge Mizoram to have further discussion on 9th Nov 2018 at Aizawl with the representatives for the All NGO on their resolution,” an EC press note said.
The other members of the team are Khiangte, Joshi, and Mizoram’s additional CEO Lalzarmawii, it added.
The poll panel also expressed its “serious concerns” on the violence in Kolasib district during protests against the CEO Tuesday.
As protests continued outside the CEO’s office in Aizawl for the second day, Sheshank, who had not attended office Tuesday, left to meet Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat and other Election Commissioners in New Delhi, as per officials of the state election department, reported EC sources .
The Coordination Committee, which comprises the Central Young Mizo Association, the Mizoram Senior Citizen Association, the Mizoram Woman Federation, the Mizo Student Association, and the Mizo Student Union, had asked Shashank to quit by November 5 and leave the state after the principal secretary (home), Lalninmawia Chuaungo, was removed following the chief electoral officer’s complaint against him.
Shashank had accused Chuaungo of interfering with the revision of electoral rolls of Bru refugees from Mizoram, who have been living in relief camps in Tripura since ethnic violence drove them away in 1997.
Most Mizos, including the state government, are opposed to the Election Commission’s proposal for allowing Brus to vote at their camps and want them to return to Mizoram for that.
The committee called for protests outside Shashank’s office and launched the ‘Save Mizoram Movement’ after he refused to quit or leave Mizoram.
It has argued Shashank’s move to have Chuaungo removed and the proposal to allow Brus to vote in Tripura camps “could vitiate the atmosphere and create divisions among various groups”.
Several political parties, including the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have also supported the committee’s stance and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in removing Shashank.