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Who are the Bodos?

  • Bodos are the single largest community among the notified Scheduled Tribes in Assam.
  • Part of the larger umbrella of Bodo-Kachari, the Bodos constitute about 5-6% of Assam’s population.

Background of the Bodo issue?

  • The first organised demand for a Bodo state came in 1967-68.
  • In 1985, when the Assam Movement culminated in the Assam Accord, many Bodos saw it as essentially focusing on the interests of the Assamese-speaking community.
  • In 1987, the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) revived the Bodo statehood demand. It subsequently renamed itself National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), and later split into factions.
  • The 1987 ABSU-led movement culminated in a 1993 Bodo Accord, which paved the way for a Bodo land Autonomous Council (BAC).
  • But ABSU withdrew its agreement and renewed its demand for a separate state.
  • The 2003 Bodo Accord was signed by the extremist group Bodo Liberation Tiger Force (BLTF), the Centre and the state.
  • This led to the formation of the Bodo land Territorial Council (BTC) which is an autonomous body under the Constitution.

The Settlement

  • To resolve the Bodo issue,the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Assam Government and the Bodo groups on 27 Jan 2020  signed an agreement to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) in Assam, currently spread over four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.
  • The agreement with the banned Assam-based insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) , the Central government  provided a political and economic bonanza to the tribal, sans the outfit’s key demand of a separate Bodo land state.  Territory while keeping intact the territorial integrity of the State of Assam
  • However, an ABSU leader said that there is no mention anywhere in the settlement that the ABSU will give up the statehood demand.

Important Points Of the Accord

  • Bodoland Territorial Region would include the villages which are dominated by Bodos but are outside BTAD presently. Villages with non-Bodo population would be excluded from it.
  • A committee will be formed to decide the exclusion and inclusion of new areas. Subsequently, the total number of Assembly seats will go up to 60, from the existing 40.
  • Both the representatives of the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and of Bodoland Territorial   Council (BTC) will be present in the committee.
  • Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council will be set up for focused development of Bodo  villages outside BTAD.
  • Bodos living in the hills would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.
  • Bodo language with Devanagari script would be the associate official language for the entire Assam.
  • However, the agreement has not addressed the issue of “citizenship or work permit” for non-domiciles in the BTAD yet.
  • Around 1500 cadres of NDFB will be rehabilitated and assimilated by the Central and the state governments.
  • The criminal cases registered against factions of NDFB members for non-heinous crimes shall be withdrawn and the cases of heinous crimes will be reviewed.
  • Comprehensive solutions have been made to redress the grievances of the people.
    Families of the people killed during the Bodo movement would get ₹5 lakh each.
  • Special Development Package of ₹1500 crore would be given by the Centre to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.
  • This agreement says the Government of Assam will notify Bodo language in Devanagri script as the associate official language in the state.

Source: T/H/Indian Express