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Bodo state protest deferred

Kokrajhar, Jan. 2: The indefinite economic blockade called by the Peoples Joint Action Committee for Boroland Movement has been suspended till January 15, following intervention from the home ministry.

The committee’s chief convenor Jebra Ram Muchahary told reporters here today that they took the decision after a Union home ministry communiqué assured them of a political dialogue with the National Democratic Front of Boroland (Progressive) by January 15.

“We are not withdrawing the blockade, only adjourning it. We will wait till January 15 to see the government’s response,” he said.

The committee made it clear that the talks would have to be at the highest political level, failing which they would resume the blockade. “We have stated specifically that it should be a political dialogue at the highest level and not merely talks with an interlocutor or the ministry of home affairs,” he said.

Muchahary alleged that the NDFB (P)’s dialogue with the Centre on the separate state of “Bodoland” was not moving forward because of a lack of political will. He said the matter should be discussed at the highest level, as in the case of Telengana, as peace could not prevail in the area until and unless a separate state was granted.

He said the two Bodo Accords signed between the Bodo leadership and the Centre in 1993 and 2003 to resolve the issue had failed to fulfil the political aspirations of the Bodos and other indigenous tribal people.

“Both the accords, in reality, are mere packages for economic development and fail to address the fundamental question of political empowerment to the Bodos and other tribal people. On the basis of history, ethnic identity, language, culture, population and the Constitution, we have every right to have a separate state for our self-determination,” he said.

The economic blockade, which began yesterday, had left hundreds of goods-laden trucks stranded on National Highways 31C, 31, 37 and 52.

The committee, a conglomeration of 52 organisations of different communities living in the BTAD, is demanding “Bodoland” — comprising 32 tribal belts & blocks and the adjoining tribal contiguous areas of 25,478 square km on the north bank of the Brahmaputra from the Sankosh river in the west to Sadiya in the east. It is also demanding Sixth Schedule status for the existing non-territorial autonomous councils for indigenous people such as the Rabha Hasongs, Tiwas, Deuris, Thengals, Sonowals and Misings.

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