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BPF rallies, Absu marches

- Protests continue over setting up of Pillai panel to look into Bodoland demand

Kokrajhar/Bongaigaon, March 4: The “no show” by former bureaucrat G.K. Pillai in Kokrajhar because of “logistical” reasons notwithstanding, the one-man committee headed by him to study the feasibility of a separate Bodoland evoked extreme reactions for the second day running.

The BPF went ahead with the rally in Kokrajhar organised to welcome Pillai but the Chirang unit of the All Assam Minority Student’s Union burnt his effigy and that of chief minister Tarun Gogoi and BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary and threw stones at a bus carrying BPF members to the rally.

The BTAD Congress, a BPF ally, staged a demonstration at Rajiv Bhawan in Guwahati to oppose his visit and the creation of Bodoland (see chart).

Thousands thronged the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) and Bodo National Conference (BNC) rally at Debargaon to welcome Pillai but were disappointed after they got to know about the cancellation at noon from BTC deputy chief Kampa Borgoyary. The Telegraph had reported the cancellation of his visit in today’s edition.

Pillai was scheduled to fly to Kokrajhar by chopper from Guwahati and hold preliminary discussions with various groups on Bodoland. He is unlikely to visit the state till after the Lok Sabha elections, sources in New Delhi said.

An elderly man, waiting at the site, said: “It is disappointing as we had come to listen to Pillai.”

BPF leaders blamed the All Bodo Students Union (Absu) and other non-Bodo organisations opposed to the committee for the cancellation.

BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary, while seeking support for the panel, said, “Absu does not want the Bodoland issue to be solved. That’s why it rejected the committee but we want a permanent solution. Even non-Bodo organisations are supporting the committee.”

The 12-hour bandh called by the Jonogosthiyo Oikyo Moncho, comprising 23 non-Bodo organisations, in protest against the committee, evoked a mixed response in the BTAD but had no impact in Dhubri.

The Oboro Suraksha Samiti’s 24-hour BTAD bandh since yesterday was total in non-Bodo dominated areas but had little impact elsewhere.

Congress members from Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri, the four BTAD districts, staged a demonstration in Guwahati against Pillai’s scheduled visit and a separate Bodoland, PCC chief spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora said.

The day also saw Absu launch its “long march” from its district office at Chirang district headquarters Kajalgaon for “inclusive reformation” of rural BTAD as a prerequisite for creation of Bodoland.

Nearly 250 Absu members participated in the march which will touch each and every village of Chirang district and continue till March 8. They will also go to other BTAD districts.

Absu president Pramod Boro said the villagers would be made aware of a violence-free culture, communal harmony, corruption-free governance, work culture, remedies for Bodoland-related problems, empowerment of women and education. “The march has been undertaken to fulfil the vision of Bodofa (father of Bodos) late Upendra Nath Brahma and will continue for three years,” Boro said.

Absu adviser Rwngwra Narzary said Bodo society cannot survive by excluding other communities and that “we have to reunite all communities”. Absu clarified the march was not against Pillai’s visit and had been planned on January 11 at its Udalguri convention.