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Absu plea for civil society role

- Union asks Dispur to take resettlement issue seriously

Kokrajhar, Nov. 27: The All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) has asked the government to involve civil society organisations in the rehabilitation process and take the issue of protecting the land of indigenous people seriously.

“Absu appeals to the government to address the issue of protecting tribal land and control over resources properly so that any kind of misunderstanding does not arise again. The civil administration should be effectively engaged to promote communal understanding, strengthening grassroots democracy, proper implementation of law and right of the people and in peace building activities simultaneously,” Absu president Promode Boro said in a statement.

“Political interference on the matter will further aggravate the situation because the ongoing situation and crisis is totally a legal and a matter of law and order. Central representatives should also be included in the rehabilitation action committee along with the state group of ministers. This committee should try to understand the menace and factors of conflict and for that they should take the civil society into confidence rather than aiming at a mere political benefit,” Boro said.

“The indigenous people and Absu were very hopeful that the encroachers would be made legally accountable and not allowed to continuously violate the law of the land in the region. But the indigenous people are shocked that once again the entire process has been a sham,” he said.

“It is awfully unfortunate that those in power have not learnt their lessons yet. We feel that is the reason why we see repeated conflicts in the state,” Boro said.

The union reminded the government to make the verification report on the rehabilitation process public because that would build up confidence among the masses. The union felt that authorities must understand genuine issues to reinstate the confidence among people. “Unless they understand, the rehabilitation process won’t be sustainable and peace will not return to the region,” he said.

Response to Patnaik

Responding to governor J.B. Patnaik’s order to search every house in the BTAD for illegal arms, Boro said: “Absu has experienced how security forces operate in the region. His Excellency should ensure safety of innocent people during the time of these operations from any kind of harassment. Often, when forces fail in their missions, they arrest and harass innocent people just to show their action and please higher authorities.”

The students’ union also appealed to the NDFB’s new interim chairman, I.K. Songbijit, and his team to sustain the favourable atmosphere of talks and continue negotiations with the government.

“As a democratic organisation, Absu believes in the strategy of dialogues and debates because the only way of solution lies is the discussion. It is the time for struggling groups to think over the present condition of society, which is degenerating in terms of protection, preservation of identity, culture and also development in various aspects, it is unfortunate for a downtrodden society to accept such situations again and again. The union also appeals to the new self-styled NDFB interim chairman I.K. Songbijit and his team not to break the atmosphere which they created to enter into the ceasefire agreement after splitting in the year 2008,” Boro said.

Absu also sought more involvement of the “government as a guardian” in bringing the NDFB back to the negotiation table “because the region has already faced enough trouble from armed struggles in last couple of decades”.

“The dialogues for peace should not be a meaningless statement. Otherwise, citizens may lose faith on the government and the struggle. Absu believes in reaching solutions through discussions. Hope the authority concerned will not shy away from its response,” the student leader added.

Songbijit had announced the formation of an “interim national council” and his appointment as the “interim president” at a meeting last Tuesday.