‘Historic’ Bodo agreement hailed as ‘permanent solution’by MHA

Tripartite agreement among center, the state of Assam and Bodo groups would lead to surrender of armed cadres. But has the demand for a separate Bodoland been dropped officially?


On January 27, the Bodo separatist groups signed an agreement with the central government and the government of Assam to end decades of hostility and reach a “permanent solution” to the Bodo dispute. As per the terms of the agreement over 1500 armed cadres will shun violence, surrender weapons and become a part of a rehabilitation scheme. The center has sanctioned a special package of Rs 1500 crores for developing Bodo areas.

Present at the signing were Present on the occasion were Chief Minister of Assam, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Convenor, NEDA and Assam Minister, Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Executive Member of BTC, Shri Hagrama Mohilary, representatives of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), United Boro People Organization (UBPO), National De mocratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) factions – Gobinda Basumatary, Dhirendra Boro, Ranjan Daimary, B. Saoraigwra, along with senior officers from Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Government of Assam.

As per a press release by the Ministry of Home Affairs, “After the agreement, the NDFB factions will leave the path of violence, surrender their weapons and disband their armed organizations within a month of signing the deal. The Union Government and the Government of Assam will take necessary measures to rehabilitate over 1500 cadres of NDFB (P), NDFB (RD) and NDFB (S), as per the laid down policy of the government.” Additionally, “The Government of Assam will establish a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council as per existing procedure. The Assam government will also notify Bodo language as an associate official language in the state and will set up a separate directorate for Bodo medium schools.”

A commission will also be set up under section 14 of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, to look into the issues related to inclusion or exclusion of tribal populations living in villages adjoining Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). ABSU and BTC representatives will be part of this commission.

The Bodo people, who are some of the earliest settlers of Assam are an ethnolinguistic group and a part of the Bodo-Kachari family. Their population is concentrated in places such as Kokrajhar, Baksha, Udalgiri, and Chirang districts of Assam. The Bodo language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family. They traditionally follow Bathouism which involves ancestor worship. Some Bodos also follow Bhahma Dharma, a form of Hinduism.

Although elements of the Bodo agitation go back to the pre-independence era, the movement gathered momentum in the 1980s when a demand for a separate state was made. The key reason was the desire to protect their own unique culture. In 2012, ethnic conflict broke out between Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslims. 100 people were killed and close to 4 lakh people were forced to flee their homes. Violent incidents continued and the next big incident took place in December 2014 when 81 people including 76 adivasis were killed by armed Bodo groups. Some 2 lakh people were again rendered homeless. This led to the center launching a large-scale military operation involving the army, the air-force and the Assam police. It was called Operation All Out and it aimed to eliminate NDFB(S) completely.

With the signing of the agreement however, it is still not clear if the demand for a separate state of Bodoland has been dropped completely. NDTV quoted ABSU President Pramod Boro saying, “There is still time for discussion on separate state. In fact during the course of negations and discussion on this accord this issue had been raised but this accord looked at the larger issue of end to armed conflicts. This has been a key issue for which ABSU had struggled and thus with this accord the armed conflict in Bodoland will get resolved. The need of the hour is sustainable peace in the region.”



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