Accusing the Centre of neglecting and ignoring the issues of Bodo people, three leading groups involved in the Bodoland statehood movement in Guwahati on Thursday announced that they would relaunch their agitation from next week. All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), National Democratic Front of Boroland (Progressive) and People’s Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement said on Tuesday they will block the national highways across Assam for five hours demanding solution to the problems of Bodo people.
“We had met Rajnath Singh before 2014 Lok Sabha election. He had assured that if BJP came to power, it would look into our demand of separate statehood and so we supported the party and suspended our agitation since January, 2014. But after coming to power, BJP is just neglecting and ignoring us,” ABSU President Pramod Boro said.
Only a single round of talks were held in June last year “despite meeting Rajnath Singh seven times and Kiren Rijiju 10 times”, he claimed. “We are continuously contacting the Government of India. We spoke to Kiren Rijiju earlier this month and he assured us that talks would start after August 15, but nothing has started yet. We are mainstream people. How can they neglect us so much?” the ABSU leader asked.
As the three groups are left with “no option”, they would relaunch their “democratic non-violent movement”, he said and invited all Bodo groups across Assam to join it. Boro said four rounds of talks had taken place under the erstwhile UPA government at the Centre although there was no policy guidelines during the discussions on the statehood demand.
“Now we feel that the last few months of Congress were better than the BJP rule. They (Cong) held four rounds of tripartite talks in four months. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls we should have supported Congress,” he said. On the Centre’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards militant groups, Boro said “Is it for only one group or for all extremists? We are against (use of) all forms of illegal arms. But what is the governments’ policy? After an incident, the government launches operations and kills some militants.”
Lack of job opportunities, poverty and creation of huge wealth overnight by surrendered militants are forcing youths to join underground organisations across Assam, he claimed. NDFB(P) General Secretary Govinda Basumatary said the Centre has held 14 rounds of formal talks and 25 informal discussions with the group on statehood demand in the last seven years, but no solution was found.
“We have opposed the interlocutor P C Haldar. He is not interested in solving the problem. R N Ravi is the interlocutor for the Naga problem and within two years an agreement was signed…We do not have any problem in having Ravi as our interlocutor,” he added. Basumatary also expressed concern over the future of NDFB cadres, who are in camps for years after bilateral ceasefire was declared to hold talks.
Out of 1,150 NDFB(P) cadres, the government pays Rs 3,000 per month to only 836 persons, he said and asked, “Now the NDFB(R) cadres have also come and joined the ceasefire. What is the government thinking for these youths?”