Bodo militant groups likely to sign peace accord with Centre on Monday
The Centre is expected to sign a peace accord with all four factions of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) at New Delhi on Monday, giving peace a major boost in Assam, officials said on Sunday.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohiliary and senior bureaucrats flew to New Delhi on Sunday to take part in the event.
“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 organizations. This deal will bring the issue of a separate Bodoland to its conclusion,” Rajya Sabha MP from Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) Biswajit Daimary told journalists on Sunday.
The accord, which is expected to bring lasting peace in the Bodo dominated areas of Assam, will 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), which had been demanding a separate Bodoland, will be a signatory to the accord besides leaders of all factions of NDFB—B Saoraigra, Gobinda Basumatary, Ranjan Daimary and Dhiren Bodo.
On Saturday, Himanta Biswa Sarma said the deal rules out forming any new state or union territory and retains the territorial integrity of Assam.
“The Centre has informed Assam that no Union territory will be created or new areas added to Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts (BTAD). The accord will ensure Assam’s territorial integrity is maintained,” he said.
It is speculated that the accord could give more autonomy to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), direct funding from the Centre, land rights for Bodos in BTAD areas etc.
Last week the Saoraigra faction of NDFB had signed a suspension of operations (SoO) agreement with the Centre and the Assam government and agreed to give up arms and join the peace process.
Following the development, Ranjan Daimary, who headed the NDFB(R) faction and was lodged in jail, was granted four weeks bail by the Gauhati High Court on Friday allowing him to join the peace talks.
Daimary was the chief architect of the 2008 serial blasts in Guwahati, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Barpeta which killed 90 people and injured 400 others.
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 started over four decades ago. The violent separatist movement has claimed hundreds of lives, injured many more and affected peace and development in Assam.
The first one signed with ABSU in 1993 led to the creation of Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC). Ten years later the second deal was signed with Bodo Liberation Tigers and led to the formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which included Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri districts (collectively called BTAD).