Top election officer of Mizoram SB Shashank was removed on Thursday, days before the state goes to polls, following widespread protests against him. Ashish Kundra will be the new chief electoral officer (CEO) of the state.

The protesters 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 protests had forced the Election Commission (EC 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.

After thousands of people gathered outside Shashank’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 Shashank be removed from his post and the state.

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