Ahead of the assembly elections in Mizoram, protests broke out outside the Raj Bhavan in the state capital Aizawl on Tuesday against Chief Electoral Officer S B Shashank. The protest led by Young Mizo Association was backed by several organizations and political parties of the state, demanding the removal of the CEO. Joining the protests is the NGO Coordination Committee, an umbrella body of major civil societies and student organisations, who also had sought S B Shashank's exit at the earliest.
All shops in Aizawl city, except a few restaurants, were closed Tuesday morning in response to a call made by the Mizoram Merchants' Association (MiMA). Vehicles bound for Assam to transport the Central Armed Police Forces were stopped by volunteers of a prominent non-governmental organisation in Mizoram since Monday, police said.
On Monday, Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking the immediate removal of state Chief Electoral Officer S B Shashank stating the reason that the "people have lost faith in him".
In the letter, the chief minister had asserted that the ‘CEO Shashank's removal is the only solution for smooth conduct of the November 28 Assembly elections’.
“People of Mizoram have lost faith in the CEO after he complained to the Election Commission (EC) that principal secretary (home) Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, was interfering in the poll process,” reads the letter.
He also suggested that Shashank be replaced by an additional chief electoral officer.
"Additional CEO can take over Shashank's responsibilities if making fresh arrangements were difficult at this juncture," the chief minister said in the letter.
Earlier on Monday, Chief Election Officer stated that he was fulfilling his responsibilities in accordance with the poll panel's instructions, amid growing demand for his ouster by the civil societies. He also said he had "no intention to hurt the sentiments" of the state's civil societies and apologized for rankling them.
Meanwhile, assembly elections are scheduled to be held in Mizoram on November 28.
(With inputs from PTI)