A tripartite accord signed between the Centre, Assam government and Bodo representatives, including all factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) that has waged a violent struggle, holds out prospects for peace with all sides reaffirming faith in the state’s territorial integrity.
The pact, described as “historic” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, provides for setting up of a commission to reconstitute the Bodo Territorial Areas District (BTAD) by including new Bodo-dominated villages contiguous to the existing BTAD area and excluding villages with a predominantly non-tribal population. The BTAD will be rechristened as Bodo Territorial Region. Bodo language will be notified as an associate official language in Assam.
Over 1,500 NDFB cadres will shun the path of violence, surrender arms coinciding with Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary on January 30 and disband their armed outfits within the next one month. A Rs 500,000 compensation is being offered to the kin of Bodo rebels killed in their violent struggle. The surrendered cadres too will get a rehabilitation package. This is the third Bodo agreement to date, but seen as viable due to armed factions agreeing to be party to the settlement.
Cases against NDFB cadres involving non-heinous crimes will be withdrawn by the Assam government, while cases involving more serious offences will be reviewed on a case-to-case basis. The total number of assembly seats in BTC will go up to 60 from 40, though this will be relevant only from 2026 assembly polls.
It has been agreed that a £150 million economic package shall be released over the next three years for Bodo areas, with the Centre and the Assam government contributing equal measure. Deputy commissioners and SPs of districts within BTAD will be posted in consultation with BTAD chief executive member.
Signatories to the accord - signed in the presence of home minister Amit Shah, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma - included Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) chief executive member Hagrama Mohilary, representatives of All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), United Bodo People Organisation (UBPO) and leaders of NDFB factions headed by Gobinda Basumatary, Dhirendra Boro, Ranjan Daimary and B Saoraigwra.
In a series of tweets after signing the accord, Modi said: “Bodo Accord inked today (Monday) stands out for many reasons. It successfully brings together leading stakeholders under one framework. Those who were previously associated with armed resistance groups will now be entering the mainstream and contributing to our nation’s progress.”
Shah said: “This agreement will facilitate all-round development of the Bodo areas, their language and culture will be protected without compromising the territorial integrity of Assam.” He added, “Success of the latest Bodo agreement, the third in 27 years, was guaranteed as all Bodo outfits were on board.”
The violent struggle for sovereignty, and then a separate state of Bodoland, spanning past five decades, has claimed over 4,000 lives. The first accord with All Bodo Students’ Union was signed in 1993 leading to the creation of Bodoland Autonomous Council with limited political powers. It, however, failed. The second one was with Bodo Liberation Tigers (a rebel group) in 2003.