Nava Thakuria in Guwahati
Bodo people living in northeast India from centuries celebrated recently for a political victory without affecting the territorial integrity of Assam. They signed a historic agreement in New Delhi on 27 January in presence of Union home minister Amit Shah, State chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Bodoland Territorial Council chief Hagrama Mohilary, All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) president Pramod Boro, top leaders of armed outfit National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) like Ranjan Daimary, Gobinda Basumatary, B Saoraigwra, Dhirendra Boro with many other prominent Bodo leaders. Under the agreement, the BTC will be renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and Bodo language in Devnagri script will become the associate official language in the State.Among other projects meant for Bodo dominated areas include a central university, a national sports university, a regional campus of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, a railway coach manufacturing factory, etc. ST hills status to Bodo people living in hill-areas of Assam is also carefully promised.
A massive rally was organized at Kokrajhar on 7 February to greet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where hundred thousands of people from Bodo concentrated areas along with other localities assembled in the BTC headquarter to virtually announce the end of all kinds of conflicts between the ancient ethnic tribe and non-Bodo communities. A jubilant PM Modi called on all separatists including Left wing extremists, religious armed radicals and northeastern insurgents to shun the path of violence and come forward joining the mainstream society. He made it clear that the violence has neither solved any problem nor brought any success and at the same time appreciated the Bodo youths for choosing to abandon the hostilities. He recalled the contribution of Bodofa Upendranath Brahma and stated that the agreement was in accordance with the vision of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas and commitment towards a holistic development of north-eastern region ending the five-decade long Bodo crisis. He stated that the government had adopted a new approach to deal with various issues plaguing the region.
Paying respects to the 15th century Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardev as a great social reformer who shaped the inclusive Assamese society and its culture, Modi remembered legendary cultural personality Bharat Ratna Bhupen Hazarika as a close friend and relative. The Bodo agreement helped 1600 cadres along with top NDFB leadersto surrender their arms on 30 January, where Sonowal commented that the surrender ceremony on the historic day coinciding with the 72nd death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi would pave a new chapter of peace. He claimed that building a terror-free Assam was one of the main commitments of the present government in Dispur. Peace is a prerequisite for ushering in development and the former militants must contribute towards sustaining peace and harmony in the society, added Sonowal.
Earlier NDFB (Saoraigwra) signed an agreement with the government on 16 January. Over 50 active NDFB(S) members, including its chief B Saoraigwra, returned home from Myanmar on January 11 to join the peace process. Later over 500 armed cadres from various militant outfits including United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent), Adivashi Dragon Fighter, National Democratic Front of Bodoland, Kamatapur Liberation Organisation, Rabha National Liberation Front, etc laid down their weapons.