Ending decades of insurgency demanding a separate state of Bodoland, the Centre and Assam government on Monday signed a tripartite agreement with National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
The All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), which has been spearheading a movement for a Bodoland state since 1972, and another group called United Bodo People’s Organisation were also signatories to the accord.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Kokrajhar on February 7 where he may address Bodo and non-Bodos communities. As many as 1,550 militants of NDFB will surrender with arms on January 30 and they will be given lump sum payment of ex-gratia. A monetary package of Rs 1,500 crore has been sanctioned by the government for implementation of the accord in the next three years, according to the accord. Home minister Amit Shah said Assam’s territorial integrity is assured with this agreement as every single Bodo group has come on board. He noted that while earlier the northeastern states used to feel neglected, the central government has ensured that a Union minister visits the region every week in order to ensure effective implementation of government schemes and timely completion of infrastructure projects.
Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The state government will earmark a sum of Rs 250 crore per annum for a period of three years for development of the area under Bodoland Territorial Council. GOI may contribute an additional amount of Rs 250 crore per annum for the same period.” A commission will be appointed for inclusion of villages contiguous to Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD)and having majority tribal population. The commission will also examine ways to increase Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) constituencies from the present 40 seats to 60. However, the elections in Assam next year will be fought on 40 seats. The existing BTAD shall be renamed as BTC comprising areas covered under BTAD, as per the signed agreement.
“The process of BTC to have more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers with respect to additional subjects such as welfare and development of minority communities, indigenous faith. Medium industry to be added to small cottage, rural industry subject to the provision of entries 7 and 52 of List I of the seventh schedule,” the agreement states. For protection of identity, language and education, the agreement says the Centre will implement the commitment made in the earlier agreement in 2003 to include Bodo-Kacharis living in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts in the ST (Hill) list of Assam in a time-bound manner. GOI will also set up institutes such as National Sports University, SAI centers at Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang, National Institute of technologyat Udalguri among others. PM Narendra Modi in a tweet said, “Ushering in a new dawn of peace, harmony and togetherness! Today is a very special day for India. The Accord with Bodo groups, which has been inked today will lead to transformative results for the Bodo people.”