Rail traffic in north-east hit as Bodo groups launch blockade
The rail blockade is the third among a series of protests by the three Bodo groups reviving the demand for a separate state for Assam’s biggest tribal group, after a gap of over two years.india Updated: Oct 24, 2016 14:05 IST
Bodo groups in Assam demanding a separate state began a 10-hour rail blockade early Monday morning that has hit rail traffic across most parts of the state.
Thousands of protesters blocked railway tracks at two places in Chirang and Udalguri districts affecting the movement of trains leaving and entering the state in lower Assam. The protests began at 5 am.
Since all trains coming to the north-east or leaving the region have to pass through the Bodo dominated areas, the blockade is expected to affect rail services throughout the day.
The protest programme is spearheaded by All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) with support from National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive) and Peoples’ Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM).
The rail blockade is the third among a series of protests by the three Bodo groups reviving the demand for a separate state for Assam’s biggest tribal group, after a gap of over two years.
“We were forced to block trains as there has been no response yet from the Centre or the state government to our demand. The agitation will intensify if the same attitude continues,” ABSU general secretary Lawrence Islary told HT.
The agitation, which has been on for three decades, was put on hold ahead of the 2014 general elections after Bharatiya Janata Party assured Bodo parties and organizations of support for the creation of Bodoland.
But in the past two years, though there have been several informal interactions between Bodo organizations and union home minister Rajnath Singh and his deputy Kiren Rijiju, no official talks have taken place.
Bodos aren’t the only group protesting in Assam. Last week, a Jonogosthiya Oikya Manch, an umbrella group of six communities, organized a 36-hour state ‘bandh’ seeking scheduled tribe (ST) status.
Protesters blocked national highways by burning tyres, set vehicles on fire, forcibly closed business and educational establishments and damaged public and private property in nearly a dozen districts.
The protest was organized after a Centre-appointed expert committee to study modalities on granting ST status to the six communities, which was to submit its report on October 15, failed to meet its deadline.
JOM has decided to organize more protests in Assam and also in New Delhi within the next few weeks to put pressure on the Centre.