A delegation from the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) is in Pune to spread the message of peace and communal harmony and create awareness that all Bodos are not militants. ABSU representatives, including its president Pamod Boro and activists of SARHAD, a Pune based NGO, held a joint press conference in Pune Saturday.
With the help of SARHAD, the ABSU delegation visited the social enterprise Lijjat Papad, the Azam campus and some co-operative organisations in the city. “We will be visiting Ralegan Siddhi and meet veteran social activist Anna Hazare on Sunday to discuss the non-violence and Gandhian model of development,” said Pramod Boro.
“We are an indigenous tribe in India, settled in Bodoland even before the the country was named as Bharat or India. However, the Bodo tribe has been consistently denied its constitutional and fundamental rights. We are the largest tribe in Northeast India. But we still lack development. There are hardly any good colleges, hospitals and industries in Bodoland. We belong to scheduled tribes (ST), but no government scheme meant for STs have reached us effectively. So we are here to seek support from the people of Pune to help us overcome some of our problems,” said Boro.
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“The agitation for a separate Bodoland aims to preserve the ancient culture, tradition and language of the Bodo tribe. It is not an agitation for spreading militancy. We all want education, economic growth in Bodoland… ABSU has been leading the agitation for a separate and prosperous Bodoland by democratic ways for many years. We hope the new Narendra Modi-led government finds a solution to the rising conflicts in Bodoland and Northeast India,” he added.
Manoj Basumatary, a member of the delegation, said, “Only a small section of Bodos have taken up arms and formed militant outfits. All other Bodos, who are about 20 lakh in population, believe in non-violence. But following frequent conflicts in Bodoland, the image of Bodos is tarnished in the rest of India. People feel that all Bodos are troublemakers or militants. In fact, Bodos are a very peace-loving tribe. We want quality education, skill upgradation and employment of our youths.”
Sanjay Nahar, the president of SARHAD, said, “We want to increase the cultural exchange between Bodos and the rest of India. We have plans to introduce development models and encourage youth empowerment in Bodoland.”