BODO Peace Accord : A Big Thumping for Modi Government

On 27th January , NaMo led Modi Goevrmnet made a praiseworthy move as Centre , State of Assam and Bodo community signed a deal of a peace accord . BODO is the largest scheduled community comprising 5-6% of total population . The demand for a separate BODOLAND is from 1967-68 as the community saw all benefits going to Local Assamese only . The region occupies 11% of total area but Bodo population is lesser . Many protests saw many organisations coming up demanding a separate state . These demanding protests turned Violent and Militant with time . This Accord will lead to all these extremists giving up Weapons and work collectively .

It is the 3rd Accord in 27 years and in this one other than Government the participants were NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF BODOLAND (NDFB) , ALL BODO STUDENT’S UNION (ABSU) and a UNITED BODO PEOPLE’S ORGANISATION (UBPO) . With the latter it’s the first time that a civil society body and a student’s organisation have been taken on board . It’s also unique in a way that it’s the first time that all insurgents groups have become signatories committing Non-Violence and striving for progress and development . The major highlight is that BODOLAND TERRITORIAL AREA DISTRICTS (BTAD) is now rechristened as BODOLAND TERRITORIAL REGION (BTR) . The word Region is some high significance here .

Before this there were two earlier Bodo agreements – the 1993 BODOLAND AUTONOMOUS COUNCIL ACCORD and the 2003 deal with the rebel BODO LIBERATION TIGERS . These agreements led to birth of many councils and organisations but permanent solution didn’t came up and protests continued . This time the demand for a full state has been given up for all in return for promise of upliftment of Bodo community . Negotiations led to a comprehensive and final solution to their demands while keeping their Territorial integrity intact . The main idea of government has been to grant as much powers as possible from what they are seeking so that there doesn’t remain a need for any separate state . But still it’s not 100% sure what will happen with the demand for state . Many are saying that settlement may come as UT but I don’t think it will be acceptable as then any region will just start protests demanding a separate UT . Whatever happens eventually will only be told by time .

The main highlights of this Accord are :

  • 1500 crore is to be transferred into this Region in 3 years in 3 equal instalments (250 crore to be contributed each by Centre and State)
  • So that the tribals don’t feel ignored or neglected . A commission headed by retired Judge will work on mechanism to include the villages with majority tribal population into BTR and majority non-tribal population in BTR (contiguous to Non-Sixth schedule areas) that are outside the jurisdiction of the council will be excluded from BTR .
  • In contrast to previous 40 seats the council will now have 60 seats , where 44 will be reserved for tribals and 16 will be open for non-tribals as well .
  • Also 6 candidates will be nominated ones of which 2 will be women and 2 from unprecedented communities .
  • Not only this a BODO-KACHARI WELFARE COUNCIL will be set up for Focussed Development of Bodo villages outside the council area .
  • Bodo language in Devnagri script is also planned to be made an associate official language of Assam .
  • Setting up of institutions for higher and technical education and also for protection of Bodo culture and language .

But before being Complacent from any encouraging words we also need to keep in mind some Challenges :
Two Treaties also came before but failed to deliver the purpose as slowly only but the and the end result was once again Guns , Bullets , Bombs , Bloodshed and Extortion . Who can forget the Grosteque Orgy of bomb blasts on Oct 30 , 2008 leading to death of over 100 innocents . What happens is that after these accords are signed and huge bounties of money is transferred from Centre, the signatories see their commitments shaking and with the Mushroom growth of armed outfits the result is once again the Accord turning into shreds on dust . With the history of the place , there is no guarantee that more such militant outfits can’t emerge demanding separate state . Keeping in mind that back in November many of the signatories leaders only were seen demanding for a separate state in massive rally which will be a big challenge to take care by the Government .

A new problem emerging is the sense of fear among Non-Bodos in the region that they will be sandwiched between the centre and Bodos . They also constitute a major proportion and can be at the receiving end of all political , economic and social scenario . They have raised a valid point as their aspect have been constantly ignored in all the accords . Also , inclusion and exclusion of villages from BTR on cards is also causing Shiver among the residents . So government has a responsibility to address the point of view of Non-Bodos before it leads to high unrest and volatile tension across the region .

Our prime minister has heaped high praises of this move citing it ‘A New Dawn for Assam’ but the road ahead is thorny , bumpy and terrain hostile . New peace template has been set but we have to keep in mind that Peace is not a one-way traffic and we have to ensure that it is not merely reduced to a pious homily . Government is expected to push it’s peace efforts to states like Manipur where civil society is present . So if this treaty comes out successful it will be a huge moral boost for extending such practice in other states as well .

One thing we all have to accept that in stopping militancy and Naxalism , this Government has worked really hard and proved out a real success . Getting militants seated on the Table of Discussion and then adopting a middling policy agreeing some of theirs and making them agree to some of ours is not a Joke . In this regard this Government deserves the due appreciation . With this I would like to end the discussion wishing the Government all the best for more success in this regard hoping we will eventually come out of this MILITANCY problem .



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