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Peace accord Stage set for peace accord with all four Bodo factions

January 27, 2020 06:36 AM


Peace accord
Stage set for peace accord with all four Bodo factions
Utpal Parashar


Guwahati : The Centre is expected to sign a peace accord on Monday with all four factions of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), state officials said on Sunday, a remark that came on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi said insurgency in the North-east has reduced substantially and many of those who picked up arms have returned to the mainstream.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohiliary and senior bureaucrats flew to the national capital on Sunday to participate in the signing of the peace pact with the groups that have been demanding a separate state, the officials added.

“The deal is expected to be signed on Monday. Last-minute discussions are still on in Delhi with all the four groups and other Bodo organisations. This deal will bring the issue of a separate Bodoland to its conclusion,” Biswajit Daimary, a Rajya Sabha member from the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), said.

In his “Mann Ki Baat” address, Modi said the decline in insurgency in the region was the result of honest and peaceful dialogue with all stakeholders. “Those who had strayed towards the path of violence have expressed their faith in peace and decided to become a partner in the country’s progress and return to the mainstream,” the PM said. He said those who “picked up weapons thinking that violence could solve problems” now firmly believe that the only way to solve any dispute is “peace and togetherness”.

The accord, which is expected to bring peace in the Bodo-dominated areas of Assam, is likely to be signed in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah, Sonowal, Sarma, Mohiliary and senior bureaucrats. Pramod Bodo, president of the powerful All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), is expected to be a signatory to the accord besides leaders of all four NDFB factions — B Sawraigra, Gobinda Basumatary, Ranjan Daimary and Dhiren Bodo.

Minister Sarma has already pointed out that no new state or Union Territory will be formed as part of the deal, and the territorial integrity of Assam will remain unchanged.

This will be the third Bodo accord signed in the past 27 years since the movement for a separate Bodoland for the state’s largest tribe began over four decades ago. The violent separatist movement has claimed hundreds of lives, injured many more and affected peace and development in Assam. It has, however, been on the decline over the past decade, according to experts who added that the United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent), or Ulfa (I), has emerged as the biggest militant threat in the state.

ABSU president Pramod Bodo said: “The deal will be signed on Monday afternoon. Though we had been demanding a separate Bodoland, we have come on board for this agreement as it is expected to bring permanent peace to Bodo-dominated areas in Assam.”

Speculations are rife that the accord could give more autonomy to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), ensure that it gets direct funding from the Centre, and accord land rights for Bodos in Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) areas, among others.

Last week, the Sawraigra faction of NDFB signed a “suspension of operations” agreement with the Centre and the Assam government, and agreed to give up arms and join the peace process.

The first peace pact signed with ABSU in 1993 led to the creation of Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC).

A decade later, the second deal was signed with the Bodo Liberation Tigers and led to formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which included Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri districts (collectively called BTAD).

Addressing his monthly radio programme on India’s 71st Republic Day, PM Modi appealed to those “still seeking solutions through weapons and violence” to return to the mainstream. He pointed out that 644 militants from eight different groups surrendered with their weapons earlier this month.

In Tripura, over 80 people left the path of violence to return to the mainstream last year, Modi added.

In his address, Modi also hailed the Bru-Reang refugee agreement signed earlier this month as the “best example of cooperative federalism”, and said a “painful chapter” had come to an end.

The quadripartite agreement was signed in New Delhi on January 16 between the Centre, Tripura, Mizoram and Bru NGOs.

Bru-Reang migrants fled from Mizoram to Tripura in the late 1990s and were forced to live there in camps. Nearly 35,000 refugees still living in camps in Tripura will now get a plot of land, rations, a fixed deposit of ₹4 lakh, and a monthly stipend of ₹5,000 for two years under the terms of the agreement. They will also get ₹1.5 lakh each to construct houses and have the right to vote in Tripura.

“With this agreement the community will be able to lead a respectful and dignified life,” the PM said.

(With HTC inputs in Delhi)

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