Bodoland dispute and recent developments
Assam is home to many tribal communities. Bodos are one such community. They are also the single largest tribe in Assam comprising of 5-6% of the total population.
For several years they have seen constant loss of their tribal identity due to the challenges such as illegal immigration, loss of language, encroachment of their lands and also threat to their tribal culture. These challenges are now and then faced by India’s tribes today. The latest episodes witnessed in the North-eastern part of the country.
Therefore, they have had a long history of separatist demands. Their demand for a separate state of Bodoland was first raised in 1966-67 under the banner of Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA). Again in 1987 a renewed demand to divide Assam into 50-50 was raised under All Bodo Students Union (ABSU). Then when the Assam accord was signed especially for ‘Assamese people’, Bodos felt the need to assert their identity too by launching a movement. Since then, hundreds of people have been killed and displaced.
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Armed groups were also formed during this movement. One such group is the NDFB (National Democratic Front of Bodoland) which has been involved in various killings and attacks. The central government has again extended a ban on this group for another 5 years for spreading insurgency under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
The Bodo Territorial Area District (BTAD) is an area in Assam which is home to several ethnic groups. It constitutes 4 districts – Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang.
A few days ago, it was decided that BTAD will be provided with a special status. The Home Ministry and the Government of Assam has signed an agreement with NDFB-Progressive for suspension of operations on January 27. According to the tripartite agreement, the NDFB under the leadership of its ”president” B Saoraigwra will abjure violence and join in peace talks with the government.
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It will provide the Bodos with social and political benefits. The proposed memorandum suggests that domiciles will have special status in the autonomous council and outsiders would require a ‘work permit’ to work there. Also that such people who are allowed to stay for a short time at the place under the work permits will not have the right to vote. Also, five new districts are to be created under the new BTAD among other provisions.
This is a historical step towards solution to the Bodo-issue.
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