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Bodo accord aims to establish N-E peace

The new Bodo accord has also created a political polarisation in the state.

Members of various Bodo groups during a public meeting organised to celebrate the signing of the Bodo agreement in Kokrajhar, Assam. (Photo: PTI)
Members of various Bodo groups during a public meeting organised to celebrate the signing of the Bodo agreement in Kokrajhar, Assam. (Photo: PTI)

 

Guwahati: The Bodo peace accord signed in New Delhi on January 27, bringing an end to the chapter of three decades old insurgency in western Assam has certainly been a major success, but biggest challenge before all the stakeholders, including the government, would be to make it sustainable by enforcing commitments given in the new peace-accord.

This is what the civil society groups led by All Bodo Students Union which played the key role in persuading all the factions of armed rebel groups of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) believe.

Referring the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks, “We won’t allow the darkness of violence to return. Mothers whose children have returned from the wilderness are blessing me today. So many families have been reconciled. There were gunfights for decades in Bodoland, the Absu president Mr Pramod Boro told this newspaper, “PM’s remark has given hope to Bodo civil society which was churning for peace and harmony for decades. We wanted to bring an end to armed conflict.”

Admitting that this Bodo peace accord is unique in that it is the first peace agreement in the Northeast where all the existing insurgent groups in a particular area have put their signatures, with a joint commitment to end violence and strive for progress and development, the Absu president however said, “The onus is on the government to ensure that arms conflict is brought to an end effectively. No one should be allowed to take arms again. If it comes to notice now, the government will have to act firmly against such forces.”

Apart from more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers, the Bodo Accord has decided to demarcate the border of the Bodoland Territorial Area (BTR). A commission headed by a retired judge will work out a mechanism for inclusion of villages with a majority tribal population, contiguous to the present Bodoland Territorial Council area, into BTR. Similarly, villages with a majority non-tribal population currently under the Bodo Council, but contiguous to non-Sixth Schedule areas (meaning areas outside the Council jurisdiction), will be excluded from the Council. This is expected to address the issues of both tribal currently outside the Bodo Council as well as non-tribal currently living within the Council.

Again, from 40 seats, the BTR Council will now have 60 seats. Up to 16 of these 60 seats could be open seats, meaning seats where non-tribal can also contest elections. Besides, there will be six nominated members in the BTR Council, including two women members and two from unrepresented communities. Thus the new Bodo Accord is going to address the grievances of non-tribal as well. The experts say that this was lacking in earlier two accords.

The other significant provisions of the new accord is the decision to set up a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council for ‘development’ of Bodo villages located outside the Bodo Council area, and declaring Bodo language in Devnagri script as an associate official language of Assam. Besides, measures for protection of the Bodo language and culture and setting up several institutions of higher and technical education have also been provided in the accord.

The new Bodo accord has also created a political polarisation in the state. The All Bodo Students Union is going to hold  a mega consultation with civil society groups from February 12 to decide their future course of action after the Bodo Accord, said Mr Boro adding, “We are going to consult all the stakeholders including the leaders of all the NDFB factions.” He however did not rule out the possibility of challenging the present political leadership of Bodoland Territorial Area in the forthcoming elections of the council this year in April.

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