New era of peace, development after Bodo accord: PM Modi in Kokrajhar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday the Bodo peace accord is a new chapter in new India and is a new start for the northeast, which signifies the end of decades-old violence and ushers the path of development in the region.
He also assured people that the Centre will implement Assam Accord earnestly and accused the opposition of creating confusion over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Addressing a crowd of nearly half a million people in an event to celebrate the signing of the Bodo Accord last month, he said people have created a new trust and gave peace a new road.
“Yesterday, the entire nation saw how in villages motorcycle rallies were conducted, lighted diyas and celebration was like Diwali. The entire country was discussing you…In this important part of India this is the start of new light here,” Modi said in Bodo-dominated Kokrajhar town.
He also thanked the top Bodo leaders, including All Bodo Students Union and National Democratic Front of Bodoland, for signing the agreement.
“Today, 130 crore Indians are thanking you…for permanent peace. Today, we have to take a pledge to strengthen Vikas and Vishwas and now to allow violence again in this land,” he said.
Modi also said after so many decades of violence there is peace in the region now.
“In New India, I welcome peaceful northeast. A new era of peace and development is historical in the northeast. This has happened when India is celebrating 150 years of birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and signifies his path of non-violence,” he said.
“All demand related to the Bodo issues have been met. Peace was not established after 1993 and 2003 agreement. The Centre, Assam and Bodo agitation groups have signed a historic accord, no demand is left. Now, development is our first and last priority,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the Bodo accord will benefit the Bodo people as well as others.
“Bodo territorial council jurisdiction has been increased and strengthened. It is a victory for all and for peace,” he said, asking people to stand up and clap for non-violence and peace.
He also said a commission will be set up to rework the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) and the region will get a Rs 1500 crore special development package, which will benefit Kokrajhar and other districts.
“Bodo people every right and their language will be protected and developed,” he said, adding that Assam government has taken big decisions on Bodo language.
He assured that Section 6 of Assam accord to be implemented as soon as the committee formed to suggest measures to implement it submits its report.
“For many years, Assam issues were in disarray, I assure that we will implement the Accord and sort out all issues,” he said.
CAA, new measures
He also raked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s stick comment, without naming him, saying people talk about beating him with sticks but he is blessed and protected by the blessing of sisters and mothers.
Modi said opposition leaders were creating the wrong impression that CAA would lead to foreigners getting citizenship.
“I want to assure the people of Assam that nothing like this would happen,” he said and recalled his home state Gujarat’s association with Bharat Ratna Bhupen Hazarika.
Modi said that this will strengthen Assam and also India and the NDA government at the Centre was providing solutions to difficult problems, which were ignored earlier because of “social and political” reasons.
“For decades, nobody was touching issues related to the northeast. We have engaged with stakeholders and have found a solution for long last peace,” he said.
This was in reference to the Centre’s decision to give special package and to settle Bru-Reang refugees in Tripura itself. He said with this Bru issue pending for over two decades have been settled.
The Prime Minister also said the National Liberation Front of Tripura and government had signed an agreement in August 2018 for long-lasting peace in the state.
“Now, they have shunned arms and have joined the mainstream,” he said.
The PM also announced several new measures for people of northeast, including new hostels in Bengaluru and Delhi for students from the region.
“These measures will improve connectivity and strengthen tourism and will create new employment avenues. We have approved Rs 9000 crore for a gas grid in the northeast,” he said.
Friday’s visit is the PM’s first trip to the state after protests started in December last year against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The protests seeking repeal of the legislation, which are still continuing, had claimed five lives in police firing in the initial days.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Bodoland Territorial Council chief Hagrama Mohilliary and several other dignitaries were present at the event which also showcased the cultural diversity of Assam’s different tribes.
The Bodo Accord signed on January 27 by the Centre with all four factions of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and United Bodo Peoples’ Organisation (UBPO) is expected to end decades-old violent demand for a separate state and bring peace to the areas dominated by Bodos, the largest tribe in Assam.
With the signing of the accord United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I), which is seeking a sovereign Assam, remains the only major banned militant outfit in the state.
Last week, 1615 cadres of all the factions of NDFB laid down arms in front of Sarbananda Sonowal at an event in Guwahati.
Last month’s accord, the third such deal with Bodo groups after the previous ones in 1993 and 2003, however, hasn’t been welcomed by non-Bodo residents of Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), the four districts falling within Bodoland Territorial Council (renamed Bodoland Territorial Region after the deal) as they were not consulted about it.
Though there were plans to call a shutdown on Friday, non-Bodo groups have called off any such move. The All Assam Students Union (AASU), which is spearheading the anti-CAA protests, also decided not to oppose Modi’s trip.