Poll Panel, Mizoram Groups Talks End, Election Officer May Be Replaced

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Protests had broken out in Mizoram after the principal secretary of home was transferred out


The Election Commission has agreed to the main demands of civil society groups in Mizoram protesting against the recent appointment of the state's chief electoral officer, people with direct knowledge of the matter said. The outcome of the talks between an Election Commission team and the groups was positive, they said.

Two of the main demands by the groups led by the Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee or MNCC are to reappoint ousted principal secretary of home Lalnunmawia Chuaungo, and allowing Bru tribe refugees who are living in neighbouring Tripura to vote only in Mizoram and not from their camps in the other state.

After a bout of ethnic violence in the 90s, some 30,000 people of the Bru tribe were displaced from Mizoram. Many of them are now living in six camps in the Kanchanpur and Panisagar areas of north Tripura. Their repatriation that started in 2010 remains a work in progress.

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Mr Sashank is likely to be replaced, and the Election Commission has also agreed to the demand for letting Bru refugees come to Mizoram if they want to vote in the assembly election on November 28, people familiar with the matter said.

The poll panel is likely to issue a notification on Sunday explaining the outcome of the talks with the civil society groups in Mizoram, said the people who asked not to be named.

Massive protests had broken out across Mizoram earlier this week after Mr Sashank pushed for the removal of the state's home secretary, accusing him of interfering in the electoral rolls revision process. Mr Sashank was then summoned to Delhi by the Election Commission.

Mr Sashank accused Mr Chuaungo, a 1987-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, of objecting to allowing voting by Bru refugees from their camps in Tripura. Subsequently, the poll panel had transferred out Mr Chuaungo.

The Federation of Mizoram Government Employees and Workers said if Mr Sashank was not removed, their members would not cooperate with the election work.

The protesters said there were efforts to enrol Bru tribe members who are in Tripura as voters without following procedure.

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