Bodoland Statehood Movement
● A new organisation (All India Bodo People’s National League for Bodoland Statehood) has announced the revival of the Bodoland statehood movement ahead of the elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).
● 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.
1. The third Bodo accord signed in 2020 aims to fulfil the regional aspiration of the Bodos people. Critically Analyse.
● 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.
History of Bodoland movement:
● The Bodos have had a long history of separatist demands, marked by armed struggle.
● In 1966-67, the demand for a separate state called Bodoland was raised under the banner of the Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA), a political outfit.
● In 1987, the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) renewed the demand. “Divide Assam fifty-fifty”, was a call given by the ABSU’s then leader, Upendra Nath Brahma.
● The movement peaked in the 1980s primarily due to Assam movement and its culmination with the Assam Accord which addressed the demands of protection and safeguards for the “Assamese people”. This lead the Bodos to launch a movement to protect their own identity.
● For centuries, they survived sanskritisation without giving up their original ethnic identity. However, in the 20th century, they had to tackle a series of issues such as illegal immigration, encroachment of their lands, forced assimilation, loss of language and culture.
● The Bodos have thus not only become an ethnic minority in their own ancestral land but have also been struggling for their existence and status as an ethnic community.
To meet the regional aspiration of Bodos people and reduce the violence, the central government and Assam government with other stakeholders have signed three accords till now:
● The first Bodo accord was signed with the All Bodo Students Union 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, leading to the formation of a Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) with four districts of Assam -- Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baska and Udalguri -- called Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD).
● The third Bodo accord was signed in 2020. It was a tripartite agreement between central government, Assam government and different Bodo groups, including four factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), for a “permanent” solution to the Bodo issue. Important feature:
➢ The area under the jurisdiction of BTC, formed under the 2003 Accord, was called the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) which was renamed Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).
➢ The new Accord provides for “alteration of the area of BTAD” and “provisions for Bodos outside BTAD”.
➢ The government will set up a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Councilfor the focused development of Bodo villages outside BTAD — which opens up a way to potentially address the needs of Bodos outside BTAD.
Revival of the Bodoland Statehood Movement:
● According to the new organisation, the new accord(2020) has been a betrayal of the Bodo people. Besides being an inferior accord, it prescribes a reduction of the area currently under the BTC.
● As per them, the new accord merely changes the name of BTC to Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and gives them nothing.
Peace will continue to be fragile in Assam’s Bodo heartland until an all-inclusive power-sharing and governance model is evolved under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule.