Bodo Peace Accord Why in news?
The 3rd Bodo Peace Accord for Bodoland as tripartite agreement between the Centre, Assam Government and the ban Assam-based insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) was signed on 27th January 2020, for bringing a lasting peace in Bodo-dominated areas in Assam.
Understanding Bodo Dispute
Bodos are the largest tribal community in Assam, making up over 5-6% of the state’s population. The Bodos have had a history of separatist demands, mark by arm struggle. The four districts in Assam — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang that constitute the Bodo Territorial Area District (BTAD), are home to Bodos along with several other ethnic groups.
The demand for a separate state for Bodos is root in reasons like administrative and Also in development apathy of the state of Assam, and a feeling that identity, culture and language of the Bodo people were subsume by the Assamese and migrants. In 1966-67, the demand for a separate state call Bodoland was raise under the banner of the Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA), a political outfit. In 1987, the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) renew the demand. “Divide Assam fifty-fifty”, was a call give by the ABSU’s then leader. This unrest was a fallout of the Assam Accord, Also 1985 which addresses the demands of protection and safeguards for the “Assamese people”, leading the Bodos to launch a movement to protect their own identity.
However, following an agreement in 1993, Bodoland become an autonomous administrative unit under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. And administer by the Bodoland Autonomous Council. Also Following a second peace agreement in 2003, the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was form. which has 46 members (40 elect and 6 nominate by the governor) and acts as a Legislative Council to look after the development works in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD). The 3rd Bodo accord (2020) rename the BTC as the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) with more administrative and fiscal powers.
Highlights of Agreement
Villages dominate by Bodos presently outside BTAD would be include and those with non-Bodo population would be exclude. Bodos living in hills would be confer Schedule Hill Tribe status. Also Bodo with Devnagri script would be associate official language for entire Assam. BTAD would now be call as Bodoland Territorial Region. and it will have more than before executive, administrative, legislative and financial powers.
Over 1500 arm cadres will abjure violence and join the mainstream. Also A Special Development Package of Rs. 1500 crores over three years is provided.
Major Takeaways of the Bodo Peace accord For ensuring peace and harmony in the BTAD:
It is the first peace agreement in the Northeast where all the existing insurgent groups in a particular area have their signatures, with a joint commitment to end violence. Over 1,615 cadres of different factions of the NDFB surrendered their arms and join the mainstream within two days of the signing of the agreement.
Soothing the sentiments of the Bodos:
The Bodoland Territorial Area Districts, will now be known as Bodoland Territorial Region. The changed nuance from districts to region is significant as it acknowledges a Bodo homeland within the state of Assam, without separating from Assam and also satisfying the identity and aspirations of Bodo people.
Balancing the aspirations of all:
The new Accord has also decided to demarcate the border of the Bodoland Territorial Area. This is expected to address the issues of both tribal currently outside the Bodo Council as well as non-tribal currently living within the Council. For this purpose, a commission appointed by the state government will examine and also recommend if villages contiguous to BTAD and with a majority tribal population can be included into the BTR or vice-a versa.
Strengthening the BTC:
Accord has also provided more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to BTC and amendment to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Protection of Bodo culture and welfare measures:
The accord has also provided for setting up of a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council for ‘development’ of Bodo villages located outside the Bodo Council area, and declaring Bodo language in Devnagri script as an associate official language of Assam. Additionally, setting up several institutions of higher and technical education have also been provided in the accord.
Concerns of the non-Bodos:
Critics have alleged that accord Also has ignored the interests of the other ethnic communities in the area. Concerns of non-Bodo people, mainly Bengali-speaking Muslims, Adivasis, and migrants inhabiting these districts, who were attacked and killed in large numbers in all these years, must be addressed.
Biggest challenge before all the stakeholders, including the government, would be to make it sustainable by enforcing commitments given in the new peace-accord.
Possibility of a chain reaction:
The accord could trigger similar demands in other parts of Assam, such as Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao and Cachar, which also have homelands of non-Ahom ethnicities. Moreover, it could also affect the ongoing Naga peace process, leading Naga rebels to demand territorial and administrative autonomy in Naga homelands in Manipur, which will further trigger political and ethnic tension between the Nagas and the Meitei (the largest group in Manipur).
The demand for a separate state for the Bodos has been going on in Assam for about five decades leading to agitations, protests, violence and deaths. The third Bodo Peace Accord promises to usher a new era for the people of the state if development and peace take the charted course as intended by the accord.
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BODOLAND TERRITORIAL AREA DISTRICTS (BTAD)
Recently Assam’s Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) govern by Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) came under Governor’s Rule after the after expiry of five-year term of BTC. The elections to the council, were defer because of the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines for maintaining social distancing. The governor have decided to assume control of BTAD in exercise of powers vested in him under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
About Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC)
Bodoland territorial council was create within the framework of Sixth Schedule and Governor is constitutional head here. First Bodo accord, sign with All Bodo Students Union in 1993, and lead to creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with limited political powers.
BTC was create in 2003 with some more financial and other powers. Bodoland territorial council has been empower with legislative, executive and financial powers and functions over 40 subjects.
BTC consists of 46 members, 40 members are elect and 6 to be nominate by Governor of Assam from the unrepresented communities from the BTC area of which at least two should be women. This is an exception to Sixth Schedule which allows for a maximum of 30 members whereas Legislative Assembly has 46 members. The Council aims at bringing about accelerate progress with special focus on the development of the Bodo people in the field of education, preservation of land rights, linguistic aspiration, culture and its ethnic identity.
New group to revive Bodoland movement
New organisation has announced the revival of Bodoland statehood movement ahead of the elections to the Bodoland TerritorialCouncil (BTC). The five decade old demand for a separate State for Bodos, the largest tribe in the Northeast, was said to have ended with the signing of the third peace accord on January 27 for transforming the BTC into the Bodoland Territorial Region(BTR) with more powers. But the All India Bodo People’s National League for Bodoland Statehood has vowed to rekindle the statehood movement. Members of this league, formed on October 15, panned the BTR accord, which they said would spell disaster for the Bodo community.“Unlike the 2003 accord that gave us the BTC, the new accord has been a betrayal of the Bodo people. Besides being an inferior accord, it prescribes a reduction of the area currently under the BTC,” says Sansuma Khunggur Bwiswmuthiary, former MP and president of the new group.
The accord has a provision for excluding from the BTR villages with more than 50% non Bodos and including villages with more than 50% Bodo people left out of the BTC map after the 2003 accord. The Bodoland statehood movement has its roots inthe 1967 Udayachal stir seeking selfrule for the areas dominated by the Bodo community.
First Bodo Accord
The movement was doused temporarily with the signing of the first Bodo Accord in February 1993, between the government and moderate leaders of the movement. This resulted in the creation of the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC).The extremist National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), which split into four factions later on, rejected this “trivial” accord. The discontent bred another outfit, the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), which rival led the NDFB. The Centre signed the second Bodo peace accord with the BLT in February 2003, elevating the BAC to the BTC.
First anniversary of the 3rd Bodo Peace Accord was celebrate in Assam recently.
Progress so far
Boundary commission has been formulated to give a new shape to the BTR. Development work for the residents of the Bodo region is being done through various commissions and advisory committees. 65 schemes worth Rs. 750 crore have been commissioned, and a separate allocation of Rs. 565 crore has also been done.
Assam Official Language (Amendment) Bill, 2020 pass to give due respect to the Bodo language, and Assistance of Rs. 4 lakh has been start for all surrender militants.
Timeline of the Bodoland dispute
1960s and 1970s –
There were calls from Bodos and other tribes for a separate state of ‘Udayachal’ as immigrants were accuse of illegally encroaching on Bodo-inhabited lands. Demand was raise under the banner of the Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA), a political outfit.
The Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) was constituted after the Centre, the Assam government and the All-Bodo Students Union (ABSU) signed a tripartite agreement. However, BAC failed due to non-implementation of various provisions of the Accord.
The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was formed after the Centre; the Assam government and the BLT sign a tripartite agreement. The BLT is disbanded.
NDFB agreed to a ceasefire with the Assam government and the Centre. After the treaty was signed, the group splits into three factions. One of those factions, the NDFB (S) continued to carry out violent attacks.