The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Signal for Bodo accord

New Delhi, Feb. 7: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today announced that the much-awaited accord on constitution of a new administrative set-up for the Bodo heartland was likely to be signed with the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) on Monday.

“There were two issues on which we had differences with the BLT. Now that these have been amicably resolved, it is likely that an agreement will be reached during the next meeting,” he told newspersons here.

Gogoi said the rights of non-Bodos based in the territory that would be administered by the proposed Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) had been taken into account while drafting the accord.

The creation of a new administrative set-up for the Bodo-inhabited areas has been delayed by disputes over the inclusion of additional villages on the BTC map and representation of various communities in the council.

The BLT wants some additional villages in Bongaigaon district to be administered by the proposed council despite the non-Bodos being in the majority in these areas. The outfit argues that the land in question “historically belongs to the Bodos”.

The state government is in a dilemma because the areas in question include Dhaligaon, where the Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd is located.

“As per the informal agreement that has been reached, all disputes, especially the inclusion of more villages in the proposed BTC territory, will be resolved by a tripartite committee within three months of signing the accord,” minister Bhumidhar Barman, who is the chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee on BTC, said.

The proposed agreement will be on the administration of 3,082 villages in four districts — Kokrajhar (existing), Udalguri, Baska and Chirang (to be created). The headquarters of these districts will be Kokrajhar town, Udalguri, Masalpur and Kajalgaon.

The tripartite committee will later examine the legitimacy of the BLT’s demand for creation of two new subdivisions — Tamulpur and Tangla — and several new blocks.

The proposed council will have 46 seats, of which 30 will be reserved for representatives of the Scheduled Tribes and five each for non-tribals and the general category.

The state government will nominate six members, including two women.

The Centre has agreed, in principle, to bear the expenses incurred in creating the new districts, subdivisions and blocks.

Gogoi said the issue of including more villages would be resolved on the basis of the two criteria agreed upon by the sides concerned. “Villages that have over 50 per cent Bodo population and those that are contiguous to the Bodo-inhabited areas will be brought under the purview of the BTC after a survey.”

The chief minister today briefed Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the developments.

On illegal migration from Bangladesh, he said the onus of checking infiltration was on the Centre. He said the state government’s role was limited to identification of illegal migrants. “The issue figured in my discussions with the Prime Minister. Approximately 30,000 cases have been referred to the tribunals (those constituted under the IM(DT) Act),” he said.

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