The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Assam clears last Bodo bar

Guwahati/Kokrajhar, Oct. 31: Nearly nine months after the second Bodo accord and numerous teething problems later, the Assam government today issued a notification authorising the creation of an administrative set-up designed to give greater autonomy to the Bodo tribe.

The Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) signed the accord with Delhi and Dispur on February 10, but its demand for the inclusion of 95 additional villages in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) territory remained the bone of contention.

After much wrangling, the government and the BLT leadership agreed that the notification should be issued without further delay. The breakthrough came last night with both sides deciding to resume the negotiations on the 95 additional villages after the formation of an interim council.

The new Bodo accord ended a seven-year armed movement by the BLT and replaced the one signed a decade ago by the All-Bodo Students Union-Bodo People’s Action Committee combine with the Centre and the Assam government.

The BLT will form the interim council to administer a territory spanning 3,108 villages notified by the government. Today was the last date for reorganisation of districts, as fixed by the delimitation commission.

BLT chairman Hagrama Basumatary and health minister Bhumidhar Barman, who is also the chairman of the three-member cabinet sub-committee on the Bodo accord, signed the agreement on forming an interim council immediately.

The militant group’s secretary-general Derhasat Basumatary said the modalities for the exercise would be finalised at a meeting with leaders of other Bodo organisations and the elected representatives of the community in Kokrajhar on November 5.

The BLT wants the impasse over two more contentious demands to end before the constitution of a new administrative set-up. The militant group has been demanding equal privileges for the Bodos living in the areas administered by the autonomous councils of the Rabha-Hajongs, Misings and Tiwas, and ST (Hill) status to members of the community living in Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills.

Another demand is the withdrawal of all cases pending against BLT members. Basumatary claimed the government had assured his organisation of a positive decision on the first two demands before the formation of an interim council.

Welcoming Dispur’s notification, the Bodoland Demand Legislature Party hoped the formation of a new council would usher in an era of peace in the Bodo heartland, which has been in turmoil for nearly 15 years now. Its chief whip, Biswajit Daimari, said his party expected the BLT and the government to sort out their remaining differences at the earliest.

Three new districts — Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang — will be carved out of the eight existing districts of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri, Nalbari, Barpeta, Sonitpur, Kamrup and Darrang. Apart from these three new districts, the BTC’s jurisdiction will extend to Kokrajhar district.

The sub-divisions of the four districts under the new administrative set-up will be Kokrajhar-Gossaigaon, Kokrajhar, Parbatjhora, Udalaguri-Bhergaon, Udalguri, Baksa-Tamulpur, Salbari, Mossalpur, Chirang-Bijni and Kajalgaon.

The BLT has not budged from its stand that the boundary should be demarcated on the basis of the 1999 notification on the territory administered by the dissolved Bodoland Autonomous Council.

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