Farmers protest in Guwahati on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, July 15: Members of Bodo Abadari, a forum of Bodo farmers, today staged a demonstration here demanding a separate Bodoland state.
Nearly 2,000 farmers staged the dharna. They alleged that the Assam government had failed to improve the condition of farmers in the "Bodoland area", leaving the indigenous farmers to struggle for survival. They said these farmers are in the lowest strata of economic development and only a separate state would improve their lot.
"It is a dream and the aspiration of the farmers of Bodoland to live with dignity of labour in the new state. The Bodo society is agrarian and the proposed Bodoland is rich in agricultural resources, which can be the main source of economic development for the people of Bodoland," Bodo Abadari chief convener Nerkhang Khakhlary said in a statement.
He alleged that farmers of Bodoland are deprived of and discriminated against their share of benefit from government schemes. Hence, there has been no development for them even after 70 years of Independence. Equality, he said, can be ensured only under "Bodoland". "We will not only support the Bodoland movement but will also continue our democratic movement till the Centre resolves the issue," he stated.
The prosters, led by the All Bodo Students' Union, have been demanding "Bodoland" by bifurcating the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri and portions of central and Upper Assam districts "to protect the culture, tradition and indigenous identity of the Bodo people".
The farmers' body said Bodos are the aboriginal people of both the Barak and the Brahmaputra valleys in Assam and the British had annexed the Kachari kingdoms and merged them with India when the Doctrine of Lapse was applied in 1854. It said the unique history of the Bodos has been distorted since Independence in 1947. The state, at present, has more than 25 lakh Bodos.
Absu president Promod Boro told The Telegraph that 80 per cent of the Bodos in the BTAD are farmers but many are still landless or their lands have been encroached upon. "They don't get the benefit of government schemes such as power tillers, tractors, seeds, fertilisers and irrigation."
The farmers asked why the Centre had not fulfilled the demand for "Bodoland" though it had created new states in the past 50 years. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a rally in Bongaigaon in 2014, had said the BJP would resolve the Bodo problem. Why has he not fulfilled our demand even after three years in power?" asked the farmers' body.