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Rush to break BTC deadlock

Guwahati, Dec. 14: Racing against time to salvage the ongoing peace talks with the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), the Assam government today convened an all-party meeting here on Monday to thrash out a solution to the vexed Bodoland Territorial Council boundary issue.

Though the state government and the BLT leadership had agreed to take a final decision on the inclusion of the 93 contentious villages in the council area by November 30, the government failed to meet the deadline, prompting the outfit to toughen its stand.

Sources close to the BLT have indicated that it would call off the ceasefire if the Centre and the state government failed to create the proposed territorial council before the expiry of the truce agreement on December 21.

The decision to convene the all-party meeting was taken after an informal discussion between chief minister Tarun Gogoi and members of his Cabinet sub-committee on the territorial council.

Sources said that a meeting of the Gogoi Cabinet to forward its final recommendation on the BTC boundary would follow the all-party meeting. The state government has agreed to include 3,070 villages in the proposed council following the consensus of an all-party meeting held earlier this year.

The BLT has maintained that the inclusion of the 93 villages is “non-negotiable”, but the state government has expressed its reservations over the issue. The Cabinet sub-committee on BTC during its discussion with the BLT on November 13 had pointed out that most of these villages were dominated by non-Bodos.

The profit-making Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (BRPL) has emerged as the bone of contention between the two sides, with the BLT insisting on its inclusion in the BTC.

The militant outfit contended that the villages and other areas, including the BRPL area, traditionally belonged to the Bodos though non-Bodo people now inhabit some of them. The outfit claimed that even non-Bodos in these areas favour the inclusion of their villages in the BTC.

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