| Absu activists squat on the tracks at Basugaon station in Chirang district on Tuesday. Telegraph picture |
Kokrajhar, Feb. 11: Train services were disrupted in lower Assam today on account of the 12-hour railway blockade call by the All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) at Basugaon station in Chirang district, demanding resolution of the Bodoland issue.
Nearly one lakh people gathered on the tracks from 6 this morning demanding the expedited formation of Bodoland.
The blockade was reduced to six hours after the union received a formal invitation from the Centre for the third round of tripartite talks on February 21 last evening.
Several important trains were stranded at different stations, with the 12235 Down Rajdhani Express, the 13247 Down Capital Express and the 55174 Down BG Passenger stopped at New Bongaigaon, while the 12423 Down Rajdhani Express and 12510 Down Bangalore Express were stranded at Barpeta Road.
The other stranded trains include the 1245 Up Saraighat Express at Kokrajhar station, the 15471 Kamakhya Intercity Express at Fakiragram station and the 15959 Up Kamrup Express at New Cooch Behar station in Bengal.
The union, which is spearheading the demand for Bodoland, has said the Centre should find a solution to the Bodo problem at the earliest at a time when the Union cabinet cleared the bill for the formation of Telangana.
They warned the mass movement would continue until Bodoland was created. “Respecting the Centre’s invitation for the third round of talks on February 21, we reduced today’s 12-hour railway blockade by six hours. But if the dialogue does not bear any fruit and is not to our satisfaction, we will continue with our agitation in a more intense manner after the school examinations,” Absu president Pramod Boro said.
He said the Bodoland movement was for the constitutional and political rights of the Bodo people and that protection of the culture, tradition, literature and all aspects of the community can only exist and grow under a separate state.
He said Bodos living in the region, particularly in Assam, have been suppressed, oppressed and discriminated against for a long time. “We are deliberately deprived of our constitutional rights like the right to life and right to equality. When other children go abroad for their studies, our children are being deprived of quality education with no teachers and books,” he said.
The student union warned the Centre that this kind of discriminatory role will not be tolerated and demanded a comprehensive national policy for the proposed Bodoland state.
Boro said there was no dignity of life and the rich tradition, language, culture and identity of Bodos and other tribal communities were under threat. “To protect the communities and their resources, the only way out is the creation of a new state by reorganising present Assam,” he said.
Apart from the Absu, leaders of allied organisations like the National Democratic Front of Boroland (Progressive), Bodoland People’s Progressive Front (BPPF), United Democratic People’s Front (UDPF), People’s Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM) took part in the blockade.
The proposed Bodoland covers 25,000 square km from the Sankosh river in West Kameng district in Arunachal Pradesh to Sadia in Assam’s Tinsukia district.