Assam sets up commission to redraw BTAD boundary as per Bodo accord
Eight months after the signing of the Bodo peace accord, Assam government on Friday announced the setting up of a commission to redraw the boundary of Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) as mentioned in the deal.
The peace accord signed in January by National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and United Bodo Peoples’ Organisation (UBPO) with the Centre and Assam government had included the redrawing of BTAD—which comprises Baksa, Kokrajhar, Udalguri and Chirang districts—as one of the main clauses.
“The government will set up a four-member commission headed by former chief secretary PP Verma. It would have a tenure of six months from the day of its formation,” health, finance, PWD and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told journalists.
The present administrator of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Rajesh Prasad, Jayanta Basumatary of ABSU and Dalim Bayan, a non-Bodo representative, are the other members of the commission.
As per the accord, villages contiguous to BTAD with a Bodo population of more than 50% can apply to be included within its boundary and villages within BTAD which are contiguous to its boundary and have a non-Bodo population of over 50% can apply to be excluded from its area.
“As provided in the accord, the commission will advise the state government on increasing the number of seats in BTC from 40 to 60 as well as delimiting constituencies,” Sarma said.
The minister said that Assam governor Jagdish Mukhi has already approved the renaming of BTAD as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), as specified in the accord.
“Once these clauses are implemented, the state government will initiate the inclusion of Bodo as an associate official language in Assam as well as set up a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council for Bodos living outside BTAD,” said Sarma.
The new initiatives announced on Friday follow a meeting between Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on September 20 regarding the implementation of the accord.
Elections to BTC, which was ruled by Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF), a partner in the BJP-led ruling coalition in the state, was scheduled in April this year, but the entire BTAD was placed under governor’s rule the same month as polls couldn’t be held due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown.
“The health department is of the view that elections for BTC can’t be held till November-end. The chief minister will hold an all-party meeting regarding the polls soon and a decision on holding the election in December may be taken. We are also watching how assembly polls in Bihar are conducted,” Sarma said.