Accord signed with Bodo groups in Assam

Accord signed with Bodo groups in Assam, 1,550 insurgents to lay down arms

The Centre and Assam government on Monday signed a new agreement with Bodo groups including all four factions of the insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) with a hope to establish permanent peace in the region and put an end to the 48-year-long demand for a seperate Bodoland state.

The Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) was signed in New Delhi in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah that sought to give more powers to Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). The council was formed in 2003 under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution for more autonomy to the Bodos, the second-biggest indigenous community in Assam.

It also promised to address the issues of the Bodos living outside BTC, to promote and protect the social, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identity of the Bodos, legislative safeguards for land rights of the tribals, rehabilitate the members of NDFB factions, besides others.

"This is going to be the document for a golden future for Assam and the Bodoland region, which saw 4,007 deaths during the armed movement. ABSU started the movement for a seperate state in 1972 but it took violent turn when NDFB launched the armed movement in 1987 and kept the region volatile. This agreement puts an end to a fear that Assam will be divided again. The territory of Assam remains intact with giving importance to the development and concerns of the communities," Shah said soon after the accord was signed with six Bodo organisations.

Lawrence Islary and Promod Boro, general secretary and president of ABSU, Ranjan Daimary, chairman of NDFB (R), Goninda Basumatary, general secretary of NDFB (P), B Saoraigwra, president of NDFB (S), Dhirendra Boro of NDFB (Dhiren), Mihineswar Basumatary, president of United Bodo Peoples Organisation, Kumar Sanjay Krihna, Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna and Satyendra Garg, joint secretary (Northeast), Union Ministry of Home Affairs signed the tripartite agreement.

Saoraigwra came overground from Myanmar camps while Daimary was released on bail from jail to sign the agreement.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and chief of BTC Hagrama Mohilary also signed as witnesses.

Mohilary, a former insurgent leader had signed an accord in 2003.

All 1,550 cadres of the four NDFB factions will lay down their weapons on  January 30 at Kokrajhar, the headquarters of BTC.

Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the state government invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah for the programme on February 7.

The cadres will be rehabilitated as per the rehabilitation scheme while those without serious cases would also be considered for recruitment in the army, paramilitary forces and police.

Cash of Rs 5 lakh will be given to the family members of those who died during the Bodoland Movement. A special package of Rs 1,500 crore for development of the Bodoland area in the next three years is also part of the accord.

"The Accord with Bodo groups will further protect and popularise the unique culture of the Bodo people. They will get access to a wide range of development-oriented initiatives," Modi tweeted.

The accord was signed four days after 644 cadres of eight militant groups had laid down their arms.