Mizoram Christians call for protests due to disagreements over Sunday vote-counting

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Tensions have been escalating in Mizoram due to a dispute over the date set for the vote counting during the ongoing election season.

Since the announcement of the election schedule, there has been a widespread appeal to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to change the vote counting date. The concern stems from the date falling on December 3, a Sunday, which is considered sacred for the majority Christian community (87%) in the state. Political parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and churches have united in their demand for a rescheduled date.

Despite numerous appeals from NGOs, church leaders and political parties, the ECI has persistently refused to change the poll counting date. In response, the Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee (NGOCC) declared a protest rally scheduled for December 1 at Aizawl, the state capital, from 11 am to 2 pm. This decision was made during a meeting at the Central Young Mizo Association Office on November 30, where the committee, representing five apex NGOs in Mizoram, emphasised the importance of respecting the sanctity of the Christian day.

The committee stated, “Those who attended the meeting decided to stage demonstrations across the state on Friday in protests against the ECI’s failure to reschedule the counting day despite repeated appeals by all political parties, churches and NGOCC.”

In Aizawl, the demonstration is set to take place at Treasury Square near Raj Bhavan from 11 am to 1 pm. Similar protests will occur in other district headquarters under the guidance of NGOCC, according to the statement.

Earlier, a five-member delegation from the NGOCC had travelled to Delhi to meet Rajiv Kumar, the Election Commission of India (ECI), appealing to reconsider changing the vote-counting date in the state. The Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitu Committee (MKHC), a coalition of churches, had called for state-wide prayers in anticipation of the NGO Coordination Committee’s meeting with the ECI. Churches across Mizoram fervently prayed for a positive outcome and a favourable shift in the counting date.

During the November 27 meeting, Election Commissioner Kumar assured the NGOCC delegation that the issue would be deliberated upon by the complete membership of the Election Commission, considering that one election commissioner was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Despite these efforts, there has been no official communication regarding a change in the counting day. In reaction to the perceived inaction, the NGOCC convened a meeting on November 30. During the meeting, a unanimous decision was reached to organise a protest.

Before the delegation’s visit to Delhi, Mizoram’s Chief Electoral Officer, Madhup Vyas, had informed the media on November 16 that the vote-counting date would remain unaltered. He reportedly made this statement after a discussion with the ECI on November 14.

The Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee on November 20 had criticised the Election Commission for its refusal to change the date for counting votes in the state assembly poll, despite numerous appeals. The Congress had stated that the Election Commission’s decision reflects a lack of respect for Mizo sentiments. In their press release, the Congress party had highlighted that multiple political parties, including itself, had appealed for the rescheduling of the December 3 poll counting date.

On November 7, polling took place in the state for the 40-member Mizoram legislative assembly, with over 80% of the 8,57,000 voters participating to determine the fate of 174 candidates.

Media reports indicate that election officials are reassuring the public that all preparations are complete for the counting on December 3.

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