The central government, Assam government and Bodo representatives on 27 January 2020 signed a Bodo accord to fulfill the groups’ key political and economic demands. The accord was signed in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal and four factions of the banned insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). The NDFB factions were led by Ranjan Daimari, Govinda Basumatary, Dhiren Boro and B Saoraigra. Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry Satyendra Garg and Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna were also present on the occasion.
- This agreement will ensure a golden future for Assam and for the Bodo people. 1550 cadres along with 130 weapons will surrender on January 30.
- The Home minister wanted peace to return to Bodo-dominated areas in Assam and therefore was keen to conclude the accord as early as possible to end the Bodo 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.
- Also, the commission is likely to be set up to take the views of the people in Assam in providing some specific political rights to the Bodos.
- Under the agreement, the Centre will take a sympathetic view of those who took up arms for the statehood movement.
- According to the agreement, the area called BTAD will be renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region and the Centre would expedite 'hills tribe' status to Bodo people living in the hill districts of Assam. The Bodo language, with Devnagri script, will become associate official language for entire of Assam.
- The agreement also involves a hefty financial package -- the state government would give Rs 250 crore for 3 years to develop the area. The Centre will also add an equivalent amount, bringing the total to Rs 1500 crore.
- The funds would be used to set up industry and employment package and promote eco-tourism. Under the socio-cultural package, the government will set up a Central University in the name of Upendranath and a national sports university.
- The other projects will include a regional medical institute, hotel management campus, a Mother Dairy plant, a National Institute of Technology and more Navodaya Vidyalayas.
Third Bodo Accord
- 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 formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) with four districts of Assam -- Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baska and Udalguri -- called the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD).
- The BTC has control over 30 subjects like education, forests, horticulture but no jurisdiction on the police, revenue and general administration departments, which are controlled by the Assam government. The BTC was formed under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution.
- 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.
Who are the Bodos?
- The Bodos, an ethno-linguistic group believed to be the earliest inhabitants of Assam, are one of the Indo-Mongoloid communities belonging to the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan family.
- At the zenith of their thriving civilisation, they ruled vast territories encompassing almost the entirety of northeast India, parts of Nepal, Bhutan, North Bengal and Bangladesh.
- 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 20th century also witnessed the emergence of Bodos as a leading tribe in Assam which pioneered the movements for safeguarding the rights of the tribal communities in the area.