The Bodo Accord has not only kept the territorial integrity of the state “intact” but also given the Bodos and non-Bodos the “option” of entering and leaving the proposed Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) respectively as a part of the “final and comprehensive” solution to the decades-long Bodoland movement.
Highlighting the benefits of the accord signed in Delhi on Monday, Assam cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said it has succeeded in allaying apprehensions over the state’s territorial integrity and addressed the grievances of both Bodos and non-Bodos living in the present Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).
Sarma said the previous two Bodo Accords had failed to bring “complete” peace as groups demanding a Bodoland state, such as the All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) and National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) factions, were not engaged in the previous treaties. Hence, the movement for “Bodoland”, by dividing Assam 50:50, continued.
“The demand for Bodoland has continued since 1966. Though peace accords were signed, not all groups joined them. With the joining of all the groups, including Absu, all NDFB factions and United Bodo People’s Organisation (a civil society group of Bodos living outside the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), the new Bodoland Accord is final and comprehensive. With this, the age-old issue of a separate state has ended,” Sarma said. On the “inclusion and exclusion” of villages as per the population pattern in the areas, Sarma said, “When BTC was formed, many non-Bodo areas were included and many Bodo-dominated areas were excluded. Now people from these areas will have the option to choose whether they want to be a part of the proposed BTR or not.”
The accord says a commission will be appointed to examine and recommend the inclusion of villages contiguous to BTAD and having a majority tribal population, as demanded by Bodo organisations. Similarly, it will examine the demand for exclusion of villages currently under the BTAD but contiguous to non-Sixth Schedule areas and having a majority of non-tribal population. The commission will be set up by the state government and led by a retired judge of Gauhati High Court.
To thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, Dispur has invited them to a ceremony, likely to be held in Kokrajhar, on February 7. “The state government has invited them but is yet to receive confirmation,” Sarma said.
Dispur had recently invited Modi to inaugurate Khelo India Youth Games here but he had to skip the visit because of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Sources said Modi was, however, likely to visit the Bodo Accord celebratory function, as the BTAD has been exempted from the CAA. Moreover, the mood in the BTAD is upbeat, going by the rally in Chirang on Tuesday to welcome signatories.