Bodo groups impose 12-hour ‘bandh’ in Assam over statehood demand
Though Bodo groups exempted educational institutions from the strike, this time they have imposed a ‘total bandh’ with an aim to put pressure on BJP-led governments at the Centre and state for early talks.india Updated: Sep 11, 2017 10:56 IST
Bodo groups demanding the creation of a separate Bodoland state by carving parts of Assam imposed a 12-hour shutdown at several places on Monday.
This the second part of their agitation, which resumed on August 28 with a 10-hour blockade of national highways, urging the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led governments at the Centre and the state to hold tripartite talks to solve the three-decade long issue.
Though Bodo groups exempted educational institutions from the purview of such strikes in the past, this time they have imposed a ‘total bandh’ with an aim to put pressure for early talks.
“Only emergency services and examinations have been allowed to continue. Business establishments, offices, and banks are closed,” said Lawrence Islary, general secretary of All Bodo Students Union.
The strike, which began at 5am, has affected normal life in the four districts comprising Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and is having a partial effect in the four-five other districts at places where Bodos reside.
Bodo groups are unhappy that despite assurances by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 2014 general elections to address their demand for a separate state, nothing has happened in the past three years.
Prior to last year’s assembly election, the saffron party reiterated its commitment to solving the issue. But nothing concrete apart from some informal talks has taken place.
The demand for a separate state in areas of lower Assam where indigenous Bodo people, the state’s biggest tribal group, are mostly concentrated has been continuing since the late 1980s.
But it was put on hold in 2014 after the BJP’s promise.
Over three dozen Bodo organisations under the banner of Peoples Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM) have decided to intensify their stir if talks aren’t held soon.
Monday’s programme will be followed by a mass hunger strike on October 1 and a blockade of trains later in the month.
“We have been very patient and are seeking resolution of our demand in a peaceful manner. But if talks aren’t held, the agitation could turn ugly,” said Islary.