Centre Signs Tripartite Peace Accord with Bodo Militants; Anxiety among Non-Bodos
GUWAHATI, JANUARY 27— Amid 12-hour shutdown call in the BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Area District) area by five non-Bodo organizations demanding their rights in Bodoland area, the central government signed Bodo Peace accord with Bodo representatives on Monday to end the arms struggles in BTAD.
A tripartite agreement has been signed between central government, state government and Bodo representatives. Besides Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, BTAD Chief Hagrama Mahilary, All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) president Pramod Boro and on behalf of NDFB (National Democratic Front of Bodoland) Gobinda Basumatary signed the accord.
After signing the accord, Home Minister Amit Shah said, this accord will solve the long standing Bodo problems.
It is to be noted here that a specially constituted division bench of the Gauhati High Court on Friday granted interim bail to NDFB chief Ranjan Daimary to facilitate in signing the Bodo peace accord. A special CBI court on 30 January 2019 had awarded life imprisonment to him and nine other NDFB militants for their involvement in the serial blasts in Guwahati, Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar in Assam on 30 October 2008 that claimed the lives of 88 people and left 540 people injured.
NDFB (S) chairman B. Saoraigra, general secretary B.R. Ferenga and senior members B. Batha and G. Bidai had been camping in Delhi to finalize the peace talk on proposed memorandum of settlement (MoS) which was inked today. To pave the way for forwarding peace process with governments, a few hundred of NDFB militants surrendered in Guwahati on Thursday along with 644 militants of several other militant outfits of the state.
B Saoraigra, the chief of NDFB (S) had allegedly ordered the killing of 70 adivasis in December 2014.
Rumours spread that the new peace accord will provide a separate Bodoland State or a Union Territorial Council (UTC) to Bodo people by splitting Assam again. Defusing the speculation of bifurcation of Assam again, the Bodo peace accord has been signed today keeping intact the territorial integrity of the state.
Terms of Accord:
--The nomenclature of BTAD has been changed to BTR (Bodoland Territorial Region). From today, BTAD will be known as BTR.
--A special economic and developmental package of Rs 1500 crore will be given to BTR within a span of three years.
--A monitoring committee under central government will be formed. All policies relating to the implementation of Bodo accord will be adopted by this committee.
--The social, cultural and linguistic protection of the Bodo people will be ensured.
--More financial and administrative power will be given to BTR by amending constitution.
--Special arrangement will be taken to rehabilitate NDFB cadres.
--Land rights of the tribal people will be protected.
--New post of DIG for BTR will be created. To create DIG post for BTR, article 125 of constitution will have to be amended.
--The extension of Bodoland area will be considered.
--The number of seats in BTR will be increased to 60 from existing 40.
--Amount of Rs 5 lakh will be given to each family having lost its member due to Bodoland movement.
--The centre will establish a central university in the name of Upendra Nath Brahma, the father of Bodo nation at Barma of BTR.
--A cancer research hospital and a medical college will be established at Tamulpur in BTR.
--A regional institute of medical science (RIMS) will be established in BTR.
--A sports university will be established in Kokrajhar of BTR
--Bodo language will be associate official language in Assam.
--A factory for making rail bogies will be constructed in BTR.
--Tribal status will be given to the Bodo people residing in two hills districts of Assam—Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao.
--BTR will get a new national high way.
--Non Bodo majority villages will be excluded from BTR and Bodo majority villages will be newly included to BTR.
As part of accord, 1550 Bodo militants will surrender in Guwahati on 30th January.
The Bodo people have been fighting for separate Bodoland state since 1970. So far, 4000 people have lost their lives due to Bodoland movement.
On the other hand, the Centre did not hold discussion with the Non-Bodo groups prior to signing of the accord, though they have sought consultation to the Government. The only Member of Parliament from BTAD, Hira Saraniya has been kept in dark regarding the peace talk with Bodo outfits. Expressing his concern, he said, there is apprehension among the non Bodo people and it was the duty of the Government to take opinion of the non Bodo people for the interest of lasting peace in the area.
It is worth mention that the percentage of Bodo population in the BTAD is not more the 30 per Cent.
“Question is what provisions were incorporated in the new peace accord with the NDFB groups to save the land and job rights and political rights of non Bodo people,” said a non Bodo youth.
Non Bodo people including religious minority, who forms one of the largest groups of BTAD, are very much anxious regarding their rights under the new arrangement.
Meanwhile, the Assam Koch Rajbanshi Students’ Union (AKRSU) has clarified that they would not accept the inclusion of Koch Rajbangshi villages into BTAD.
However, the Bodo accord signed on Monday is the third one in last 27 years. The first Bodo accord was signed with the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) in 1993 resulting in creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with limited political power. The second Bodo accord was signed with Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) in 2003, leading to the formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) including four districts of Assam—Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baska and Udalguri under the six schedule of constitution which is called Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD).
BTC was empowered with 30 departments like education, forest, horticultures, irrigation, PWD etc. but police, revenue and general administration departments are under control of the Assam government.
The Bodo people have been demanding for a separate Bodoland state for last five decades. Bodoland movement claimed hundreds of lives and destruction of public properties. Only time will tell whether Bodo people will drop their demand for separate Bodo State or not. However, after signing the accord, a section of Bodo leaderships commented that it is another step for getting separate Bodoland State.