Bodoland Accord 2020: All You need to Know
What is the Bodoland issue?
The Bodos are a linguistic and ethnic group who are believed to be one of the earliest settlers of Assam. The Bodoland issue dates back to the pre-independence period which began in 1929, and it has been the cause of much violence and bloodshed in Assam over the past several years. The Bodos perceive the loss of their language, culture and ethnic identity as the biggest threats to their existence.
One of the major long-standing demands of the Bodos has been the creation of a separate state for them, carved out of Assam, in order to ensure economic development, preservation of their identity and infrastructural development for their community.
Here's a timeline of the movement over the years and how events unfolded which ultimately led to the signing of the historic peace accord on January 27, 2020.
1929: Leader of the Bodos, Gurudev Kalicharan Brahma, had submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission demanding reservation of seats for the Bodos in the Assam legislative assembly and a different political set up for the indigenous people.
1960s: The next phase of the movement, which had started in 1929, came around the 1960s when the demand for a separate state grew louder. The formation of Plains Tribal Council of Assam (PTCA) took place in 1966 which demanded for a separate union territory called “Udayachal.”
1980s: The next wave of demands took place in 1987. It was during this year that the demand for Bodoland intensified and the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) as well as Bodo Peoples’ Action Committee (BPAC) called for Assam to be divided 50-50 between Bodoland and Assam.
1993: In what became the first agreement to be signed for the Bodoland issue, the Assam government signed a deal with the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) to form the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) which was granted some political powers for the development of the community.
1996: However, nothing much came out of this agreement as the accord was not implemented properly. This led to the revival of a separate statehood demand by the ABSU towards the later half of the 1990s.
2003: A second tripartite Bodo accord was signed between the central government, Assam government as well as the militant group Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT). As a result of this agreement, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was created in Assam under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The areas which fall under the BTC jurisdiction are known as the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) and comprise four contiguous districts Udalguri, Baska, Chirang and Kokrajhar.
2003 Accord: According to the 2003 accord, the BLT members were supposed to surrender their arms and convert into Bodoland People’s Front (BPF).
2012-14: The BTAD saw continuous spates of violence and ethnic riots. Riots broke out between Bodos and non-Bodos resulting in hundreds of deaths and these violent episodes also rendered lakhs of people homeless. Bodo-Muslim riots took place in 2012 in which hundreds were killed and around five lakh people were displaced.
January 27, 2020: A tripartite accord for final settlement of demands in Bodoland was signed in New Delhi on January 27. The NDFB factions led by Ranjan Daimari, Govinda Basumatary, Dhiren Boro and B Saoraigra signed the agreement and the representatives of All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) and all the NDFB factions also signed the tripartite agreement.
With the signing of the new peace accord, a total of 1,550 cadres from all the four factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) surrendered their arms in a ceremony on January 30.
Bodo Accord 2020: Yesterday’s BTAD is now BTR
As the ABSU continued with its movement for creation of a Bodoland state and NDFB carried out hit-and-run operations, several rounds of negotiations between New Delhi and the four factions of NDFB along with ABSU led to the signing of the third Bodo accord on January 27 last.
The NDFB factions led by Ranjan Daimari, Govinda Basumatary, Dhiren Boro and B Saoraigra signed the agreement and the representatives of All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) and all the NDFB factions also signed the tripartite agreement.
Salient features of the Bodo Peace Accord 2020
> The number of seats in BTAD will be increased from 40 to 60
> A central university will be set up at Barama in the name of Upendra Nath Brahma
Special industrial policy for BTAD
> Railway coach factory to be set up in BTAD area
> Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre to be set up at Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang
> DC, SP will be appointed in consultation with BTC authority
> A national sports university will be set up
> Autonomous Welfare Council for the Bodo people living outside BTAD areas
> A cancer hospital and medical college will be set up in Tamulpur
> Government of India to expedite the process of granting hills tribe status to Bodos living in hills areas
> A veterinary college will be set up at Kumarikata
> A central university and RIIMS will be set up in Udalguri
> Government of Assam “will notify Bodo language in Devanagri script as the associate official language in the state.”
Though Amit Shah and the Bodo leaders are euphoric with the Bodo accord 2020, it remains to be seen if the accord is implemented well and on time for peace to prevail in the region.