Three days after the Centre signed a peace accord with different Bodo groups, 1,615 cadres of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Thursday laid down arms in Guwahati. Four factions of the NDFB were among the signatories to the tripartite agreement that seeks a “permanent” solution to the Bodo issue.
As per the agreement, the Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) with Bodo groups will pave the way for reorganisation of areas under the Bodoland Territorial Council region, enhance the powers of the BTC, increase Assembly seats from 40 to 60, rehabilitate surrendered militants of NDFB and bring a special development package of Rs 1,500 crore for the region. The agreement will also address concerns of Bodos living outside the BTC area, and promises to increase their representation in the state police and paramilitary forces.
Home Minister Amit Shah described it as the “final and comprehensive solution” of the long-standing Bodo issue. “Today, with this agreement, a permanent solution has been found for a problem that has cost the region 4,007 lives. The Bodo movement was peaceful in the beginning but became violent in 1986. A peace agreement was signed in 2003, but all groups were not on board. This time, all groups are here. This is an extension of that agreement,” he said.
On Monday, Shah also said as many as 1,550 armed cadres of various NDFB factions would surrender with 130 weapons on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
“NDFB factions coming to mainstream is welcome. I assure them that all promises made in the agreement will be fulfilled in due course. There would be an increase in the BTC area and rights. The integrity of culture, language and identity of Bodo people will be maintained. A committee is being formed for the development of the tribal people and regions. There will be financial restructuring of BTC and all those who have died in the Bodo movement will get Rs 5 lakh compensation each,” Shah said, adding that the committee concerned would also decide on who can vote in the BTC region.
Explained: Takeaways from Bodo Accord
On Tuesday, the Assam government on Tuesday appealed to insurgents in Assam and Manipur, including the United Liberation Front of Assam – Independent (ULFA-I), to come on board for talks, saying it would usher peace and progress in the two states.
Bodos are the single largest community among the notified Scheduled Tribes in Assam. Part of the larger umbrella of Bodo-Kachari, the Bodos constitute about 5-6% of Assam’s population.