The Centre signed a historic peace accord with the banned Assam-based Bodo insurgent group National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) on January 27th, 2020, sans the outfit’s key demand of a separate Bodoland state or union territory.
The tripartite agreement was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, NEDA Convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, top leadership of the four factions of the NDFB, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohilary, Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry Satyendra Garg and Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna.
The four factions of the NDFB, which signed the pact, are led by Ranjan Daimary, Govinda Basumatary, Dhiren Boro and B Saoraigwra. The All Bodo Students’ Union was the key signatory of the Bodo Accord. However, it is not yet clear whether the status of the existing Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) will be enhanced.
Saoraigra took over the NDFB faction (NDFB-S) in 2015. Saoraigwra, 27 other cadres including NDFB-S general secretary B R Feranga and its finance secretary B Dwmwilu had returned from their base in Myanmar recently and signed an agreement with the government for the suspension of operations.
M Batha alias Binod Mushahary and B Bidai alias Bishnu Basumatary, two top leaders of the NDFB-S, also came overground on January 22nd, 2020 along with 600 cadres from undisclosed camps along India-Bhutan border in Assam’s Kokrajhar district.
On the other hand, Daimari, who was serving life imprisonment in the 2008 serial bomb blasts case, was released from jail for facilitating his participation in the signing of the Bodo Accord.
Assam Finance Minister Sarma said that the Bodo Accord shall reaffirm the territorial integrity of Assam. The Minister also mentioned that Accord will ensure “new hope of peace and progress in Bodoland“.
It may be mentioned, eight NDFB-S militants were part of the 644 militants who surrendered in Guwahati on January 23rd, 2020, before Chief Minister Sonowal and Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta.
It is the third Bodo accord to be signed by the Centre and other stakeholders after 27 years. The first Bodo accord was signed in 1993 with the All Bodo Students’ Union, leading to the creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council.
The second Bodo accord was signed in 2003 with the militant group Bodo Liberation Tigers, which lead to the formation of a BTC with four districts of Assam – Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baska and Udalguri – called the BTAD. The region is predominantly inhabited by the indigenous Bodo people and other indigenous communities of Assam.
The BTC was formed under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution. The demand for a separate state for the Bodos has been going on in Assam for about five decades. The demand for a separate Bodoland state or union territory has led to agitations, protests, violence and several deaths.