Fourteen years after A B Vajpayee’s NDA government signed the Bodo Accord leading to amendment of the Sixth Schedule and creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council, the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) says Bodos continue to feel insecure in their homeland.
“We are thankful to the NDA for making a sincere attempt to resolve the Bodo issue. But 14 years on, the Bodo people’s aspirations remain largely unfulfilled, and they are being marginalised by non-tribals and suspected illegal migrants,” said ABSU president Promod Boro, a day after a delegation met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi.
“In the period immediately after Independence, the then government demarcated 47 tribal belts and blocks to protect Assam’s plains tribals, among whom the Bodo community is the largest. But almost all these belts and blocks have been wiped out by encroachers; governments did nothing to secure them,” he said.
“Creation of the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) after the first Bodo Accord of 1993 proved futile, leading to its scrapping and a fresh Bodo Accord in 2003,” he added. “After that, the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) experiment too has proved inadequate, convincing all Bodo groups that a separate Bodoland state is the only option left.”
Until the 1996 assembly elections, he said, Bodo voters were the largest group in Kokrajhar. “Since 2001, we have been relegated to third position,” he said.
Wednesday’s meeting was also attended by leaders of the NDFB (Progressive) faction headed by Gobinda Boro, and United People’s Party (Liberal) president Urkhao Gwra Brahma, besides Assam XM Sarbananda Sonowal. Boro said the ABSU assured the government it would not resort to any agitation affecting law and order provided the government takes discussions forward.
According to a statement by the Assam government, Rajnath said the Centre was committed to equal development of all communities on the principle of Sabka saath sabka vikas. “Our government will take all-out measures to ensure overall development of the Bodos living in Assam,” it quoted Rajnath. He added talks would continue.
CM Sonowal said, “The Bodos are one of the most vibrant and significant communities of Assam and we are fully committed to their development.”
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