|Protesters block NH31 to demand Bodoland in Barama on Friday. Picture by UB Photos
Aug. 16: Several Bodo groups and the All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union today temporarily suspended their agitation for separate states to be carved out of Assam following a formal assurance of tripartite talks from the Centre and Dispur.
The Bodo groups, however, warned that they would resume their agitation if the government does not hold talks by the end of this month.
The Bodo groups included the Peoples’ Joint Action Committee for Boroland Movement (PJACBM), the ruling Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), the Bodo National Conference and the NDFB (Progressive).
However, the All Bodo Students Union (Absu), which has announced a series of agitations from August 20, has not given any statement on whether it will go ahead with its stir.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, in his Independence Day speech in Guwahati yesterday, assured the groups seeking separate states that the Centre had agreed to talk to them to redress their grievances.
“I have already taken up the matter with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the home minister for tripartite talks and they have agreed. The government is of the view that despite our myriad problems we can all stay together as one family. It is unfortunate to see the movements turning violent in some parts. I would to like to reiterate that violence is not the answer to the problems,” he said.
Gogoi also highlighted the government’s efforts to solve problems like militancy, flood and erosion, foreigners issue, unemployment, land reforms and announced that a new Assam Industrial Policy, 2013 would come in force from October.
BPF president Hagrama Mohilary today said, “The Centre has agreed to hold tripartite talks involving all agitating Bodo groups and we are hopeful that the government will arrange the meeting soon. We will wait till August and if nothing materialises we will chalk out our next course of action in support of Bodoland,” Mohilary said.
The People’s Joint Action Committee for Boroland Movement, which enforced a 12-hour national highway blockade at several places today to demand Bodoland, called off the strike at noon following the government’s assurance on talks. Several organisations, including the Absu, NDFB (P), and the regional United Democratic People’s Front (UDPF), participated in the blockade.
The Bodo groups are demanding a separate state, Bodoland, comprising 32 tribal belts and blocks and adjoining tribal contiguous area of 25,478 square km on the north bank of the Brahmaputra from the Sankosh river in the west to Sadiya in the east.
They are also demanding Sixth Schedule status for the Rabha-Hasong, Tiwa, Deuri, Thengal-Kachari, Sonowal-Kachari and the Mising autonomous councils.
The Biswajit Ray faction of AKRSU has also put off its agitation till August 25.
“We have received a letter from the Assam home department, assuring us of tripartite talks with the Centre and the state government soon. So we have decided to temporarily call off the strikes and blockades from today,” Ray said. He, however, made it clear that the talks should involve the Prime Minister and the home minister in presence of Gogoi. The student union also wants officials from West Bengal to participate in the meeting as the demand for Kamtapur covers six Bengal districts.
The Sadou Asomiya Ekya Mancha, Asom, which had called a three-day bandh from Wednesday, also called off the strike at noon.
On the other hand, a 14-member team from the two hill district autonomous councils of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao will move the Union home minister on Tuesday, seeking immediate talks on their demand for a separate state.
Hills State Democratic Party (HSDP) leader Kanjang Terang today said they will demand justice for the people of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, who have been deprived of their “legitimate right of self-rule” for long.
On Tuesday, HSDP chief Chandra Kanta Terang had set August 25 as the deadline for New Delhi to hold talks on statehood.