Hopes for Peace

Monday, 18 January 2021



Hopes for Peace

Swapnil Bharali | February 01, 2020 15:15 hrs

The great news of the week is of course the Bodo Accord; it brings hopes of long lasting peace in the strife-torn four districts the population of which is dominated by arguably the oldest inhabitants of Assam. The concern here is that there has been Accord earlier – the historic Assam Accord – that today is sought to be consigned to the dust bin by the ruling dispensation given that it has enacted the equally historic Citizenship Amendment Act. Given the vagaries that come with changes in dispensations, any departure from the implementation of the Bodo Accord in its letter and spirit by another government would be a defeat of purpose and that would be nothing less than a disaster. As such, taking lessons from the shortfalls faced by the Assam Accord when it came to its legal sanctity, proper steps need to be taken to ensure that the Bodo Accord does not fall by the wayside any time in the future. After all, getting all four belligerent NDFB factions together at the signing table has been no mean achievement and the negotiators of this truce need to be truly congratulated.

Now, on close scrutiny of the Accord, the critical clause appears to be Clause 7.1. It relates to land rights and says that the government of Assam “may consider enacting a special legislation to provide adequate safeguards to land rights of STs living outside the tribal Belts and Blocks outside BTAD.” Now the questions that naturally follow are: How does the government of Assam view this and what kind of provisions will ensure implementation of this clause? A slight more clarity in this regard is essential.

Again, Clause 4.5 states that DCs and SPs of the BTAD districts will be posted “normally” in “consultation with Chief Executive Member of BTC.” What does this actually mean and how will the government of Assam operationalize this? Would these postings be of “yes men” in which case would it compromise regular good governance of the region?

With the Bodo militant organisations agreeing to sign the Accord of peace, speculation is rife within a section of national media about the possibility of the ULFA-I also following suit. However, Paresh Baruah has wasted no time in quashing these speculations and continues to demand a sovereign Assam. This is just the perfect situation of hoping that better sense hereby prevails on all fronts.

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