The Central government on Monday signed an accord with the banned Assam-based insurgent group National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) providing political and economic bonanza to the tribals, sans the outfit’s key demand of a separate Bodoland state or union territory.
The tripartite agreement was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal and four factions of the NDFB.
The NDFB factions were led by Ranjan Daimari, Govinda Basumatary, Dhiren Boro and B Saoraigra.
The All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), which has been spearheading a movement for a Bodoland state was also signatory to the accord.
Following the major move, Home Minister Amit Shah said the “historic” agreement will “ensure a golden future for Assam and for the Bodo people”.
As per the agreement, Shah said that 1550 cadres along with 130 weapons will surrender on January 30.
Shah said the agreement will fulfil political and economic demands besides safeguarding the Bodo language and culture. As the Home Minister, he also assured all the representatives that all promises will be fulfilled in a time-bound manner.
Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma informed that all stakeholders of Bodo society have signed the agreement reaffirming the territorial integrity of Assam.
Government officials had earlier told PTI that the Home Minister wants peace to return to Bodo-dominated areas in Assam and therefore is keen to conclude the accord as early as possible to end the insurgency. The pact will provide political rights, some economic package to the Bodo tribals living in Assam. Besides, the government will assure the Bodo groups to safeguard the Bodo language and culture and related matters.
However, it was made clear that the territorial integrity of Assam will be maintained and the key demand of the NDFB, which is either a separate state or a UT, is not going to be entertained.
“The accord will be within the framework of the Constitution without splitting the state,” a government official has said earlier.
This is the third Bodo accord to be signed in the last 27 years when the violent movement for a separate Bodoland state claimed hundreds of lives, destruction of public and private properties.
The first Bodo accord was signed with the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) in 1993, leading to the creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with limited political powers.
In 2003, the second Bodo accord was signed with the militant group Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), leading to the formation of a Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) with four districts of Assam—Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baska and Udalguri—called the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD).
The demand for a separate state for the Bodos has been going on in Assam for about five decades and several Bodo overground and militant groups raising it leading to agitations, protests, violence and many deaths.
The NDFB continues to be a banned outfit.
Some NDFB militants were also part of the 644 militants who surrendered in Guwahati on Thursday before Chief Minister Sonowal.
As many as 644 militants, belonging to eight banned outfits of Assam — ULFA(I), NDFB, RNLF, KLO, CPI(Maoist), NSLA, ADF and NLFB — laid down their arms in the presence of the Chief Minister. They deposited 177 firearms, a huge cache of ammunition and other explosives.
Welcoming insurgents to the mainstream, Sonowal had called upon them to contribute in the process of nation-building.