| Absu president Pramod Boro with other activists in Kokrajhar on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos |
Kokrajhar/Bongaigaon/Diphu, Aug. 24: The “strike and blockade” mood in Assam simmered down to a certain extent today after state-seekers received invites from the Centre for formal tripartite talks on their demands.
While the All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) called off its three-day-old hunger strike this morning, the All Koch-Rajbongshi Student’s Union (AKRSU) suspended its statehood movement till September 10. The Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State, which is demanding a state comprising Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong, also received an invite today.
Absu, which has been on an indefinite hunger strike since Thursday at the Kokrajhar Government Higher Secondary School ground demanding a separate Bodoland state, called off the fast at 11am in the presence of thousands of supporters and well-wishers after Kokrajhar additional deputy commissioner Dinesh Boro handed over the invitation to the union’s president, Pramod Boro.
The union has been invited to New Delhi on September 4 for the talks. Though the letter mentioned the time for the discussion — 11am — the venue was not specified.
Absu has decided to convene a joint meeting with other Bodo groups demanding statehood on August 27 to discuss their future course of action, including the tripartite talks with the state and central governments.
The union’s president said they would participate in the talks and wanted the government to show sincerity towards the process. “We express our gratitude to the government for inviting us for talks but everything will depend on their sincerity,” he said, adding that they would continue the movement.
“We are determined and there would be no compromise on Bodoland. This should be the last movement for Bodoland. We will not tolerate any conspiracy,” Boro said.
Accusing the state government of neglecting the cause of the indigenous tribes, he said, “Despite being the sons of the soil, what did the indigenous people got from the state government? Any respect for being sons of the soil? We don’t want money; we want self-esteem, respect. But we are treated as second-class citizens,” he said.
Urging people to carry on with non-violent means of agitation, Boro said, “We will carry on our movement through peaceful means. We need to gain more strength for movement in a democratic way.”
AKRSU president Biswajit Ray said they, too, had received a letter this morning from the Union ministry of home affairs through the joint secretary, state home and political department, inviting them for tripartite talks on September 3 in the national capital. The letter said the ministry would inform them about the venue in due time.
“For the sake of the talks, we have decided to suspend all forms of agitation till September 10,” Ray said, while expressing his pleasure on receiving the letter. He thanked chief minister Tarun Gogoi for taking the initiative for the tripartite talks.
“A total of 30 AKRSU representatives will go to New Delhi, of whom 10 will participate in the talks. The Koch-Rajbongshi Mahila Samiti and Chilarai Sena will be a part of the delegation,” he said.
He said they had already readied all supporting historical documents and the map of proposed Kamtapur. The delegation will leave for the capital either on September 1 or 2.
The Hiteswar Barman faction of the union will, however, take part in the talks under the banner of Koch-Rajbongshi Mahasabha, a conglomerate of 12 Koch-Rajbongshi organisations, on September 3, the faction’s adviser Atul Roy said.
Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State spokesperson Bidya Teron told The Telegraph that a five-member team had been invited to New Delhi for discussions at 11.30am on September 2. He said they received the invite this afternoon.
The committee comprises both factions of the Karbi Students Asociation.
Though no formal invite has been issued to the CPI (M-L) or the Hill State Demand Party (HSDP), the district administration has asked them to provide names of five representatives to participate in the talks. HSDP propaganda secretary R. Rongpi and CPI (M-L) member S. Bey confirmed the development.