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NGOs’ protest continues in Mizoram, EC summons CEO

An apex body of NGOs continued to protest here for a second day on Wednesday against the removal of Principal Secretary (Home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo and demanding the removal of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in election-bound Mizoram.

The Election Commission, meanwhile, called the CEO to discuss the situation, which was said to be returning to normalcy after the Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee (MNCC) called for state-wide protests for the sacking of CEO S.B. Shashank after Chuaungo was removed on an Election Commission order.

A three-member Election Commission team comprising Jharkhand CEO L. Khiangte, Election Commission Director Nikhil Kumar and Commission Secretary S.B. Joshi arrived here on Tuesday and left Aizawl on Wednesday after meeting leaders of the MNCC, Church bodies, Election officials and civil and police officers to normalise the situation.

According to officials of the state election department, Shashank left here on Wednesday afternoon to meet Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat and other Election Commissioners in New Delhi.

“Hundreds of MNCC activists peacefully demonstrating in front of the CEO’s office here in support of their demands,” a police official said.

The MNCC, led by Mizoram’s most powerful NGO Young Mizo Association, in a statement urged the people to continue their protests until Shashank was removed as the CEO and Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, was reinstated.

The Election Commission last week removed the Principal Secretary (Home) Chuaungo from his post for dereliction of duty and interference in the election process.

The CEO in his report to the Election Commission reportedly said that Chuaungo was creating obstacles in allowing the Reang tribals, sheltered in Tripura for over 21 years, to vote in the November 28 polls to the 40-member Mizoram Assembly.

The 35,000 Reang tribals, taking shelter in Tripura for over 21 years, have demanded setting up of polling stations in refugee camps.

Among the refugees, just over 11,000 are eligible to vote in Mizoram.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla in separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh strongly opposed the removal of Chuaungo.

Meanwhile, Mizoram CEO Shashank said that he had no intention of hurting the sentiments of the local people.

“I strictly adhereed by the rules and the Election Commission’s guidelines and order,” he told the media.

The two main political parties in the state, the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP, are also backing the protests.

Christian-dominated Mizoram is the only state ruled by the Congress in northeast India.

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