New Delhi, July 16: A fortnight after its peace pact with the Centre lapsed, a seven-member delegation of the NDFB (Progressive) called on Union home minister P. Chidambaram today to press for its demands.
General secretary B. Swmkhwr aka Govinda Basumatary led the delegation, which met the home minister at North Block for over 30 minutes. Basumatary later told The Telegraph that while Chidambaram made it clear there was no policy for creation of separate states, the NDFB told the minister that “other things” could be taken up in the meantime.
Apparently, the NDFB understands the government’s predicament with statehood demands coming in from various quarters, the major problem being in Telangana. However, the Bodo outfit sought to satisfy its own constituency by persisting with the Bodoland demand.
The suspension of operations agreement with the outfit lapsed on June 30.
As a first step, sources said the Centre would issue orders tomorrow to extend the agreement by another three months, although the NDFB wanted a year’s extension.
The NDFB also demanded that the autonomous tribal councils of the Rabhas, Tiwas, Hasang, Deori, Sonowal and Thengwal tribes should be brought under the Sixth Schedule.
The Sixth Schedule applies to tribal majority areas where autonomy is to be granted under the Constitution. Basumatary said the outfit had raised the issue of encroachment in tribal areas.
He said of the 47 tribal belts and blocks in Assam where non-tribals cannot buy land, 60 per cent are encroached. “We have told Chidambaram that these need to be cleared by implementing the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act, 1886 (amended in 1947),” said Basumatary.
NDFB-Centre talks have been in a stalemate since early this year when the outfit refused to talk through interlocutor P.C. Haldar.
Since then, Chidambaram has met the leaders twice — on February 17 and today. Haldar, however, will keep in touch with the government on the issue of talks with the Ranjan Daimary faction.
Daimary is in jail but his deputies have been running operations from the Bhutan border. The outfit has been getting arms and indulging in extortion, intelligence officials said.
Today’s delegation included “vice-president” Jaikhlong, “home secretary” M. Gerema, “education secretary” Damini, “organising secretary” B.K. Olongbar and publicity secretary S. Sanjarang