Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal rushed to Delhi on Sunday reportedly to attend the signing of a “fresh” Bodo Accord, which is likely to be inked on Monday.
After the lone outfit demanding a separate Bodoland state, NDFB (Saoraigwra), came overground on January 11 and decided to join the peace parleys, the Centre expedited the process of reaching an “ultimate” solution to the Bodo issue festering since the late eighties.
All stakeholders of the Bodoland movement, including four NDFB factions, representatives of All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) and People’s Joint Action Committee for Boroland Movement are camping in Delhi. NDFB chief Ranjan Daimary also flew to Delhi on Saturday, after being released on bail, to take part in the talks.
A source said, “We are expecting a treaty by Monday. The Centre is preparing the entire framework of the accord.” The proposed treaty is going to be the third such settlement with the Bodo groups since 1993, when the memorandum of settlement (Bodo Accord) signed in Guwahati on February 20, paved the way for setting up the Bodoland Autonomous Council.
However, the accord allegedly did not meet the demands of the community and an armed movement for a separate Bodoland ensued. Ten years later, on February 10, 2003, the Assam government, the Centre and the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) signed the memorandum of settlement to form the present Bodoland Territorial Council, which includes Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri districts. BPF, which runs the BTC, is the political avatar of the disbanded BLT.
Sources said the Centre is mulling special status for BTC. The proposed memorandum incorporates rules where the council will have special rights for domiciles, and “outsiders” will have to obtain a “permit” to work in areas under its jurisdiction.
The accord also proposes “general amnesty to the convicts of NDFB (if any) and withdrawal of all cases and charges framed” against members and sympathisers of the outfit. The proposal also advocates division of Kokrajhar into Kokrajhar and Gossaigaon districts, while Baksa will be divided into Baksa and Manas. Bhergaon will be carved out from Udalguri district and two new districts will be carved out from Sonitpur, Biswanath and Lakhimpur districts in Upper Assam, which will named Mainoshree and Holongi. The council will also get funds directly from the Centre, sources. said
However, non-Bodos, who have welcomed a deal to end the unrest, hoped the government does not disturb a highly volatile area. Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia said the Congress would support any deal that will bring peace and development in the Bodo belt, but asked the government to ensure that it does not create fresh problems.
On the other hand, Karbi groups have opposed the proposed move by the Centre to grant Scheduled Tribes (hills) status to Bodos living in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts. The Bodo community enjoys ST (plains) status.
Additional reporting by Suroj Barman in Haflong