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Demand for separate Bodoland

Assam may be heading for a fresh phase of turmoil with tribal Bodo political and militant groups joining hands to ramp the demand for a separate Bodoland state. “A separate Bodoland is a genuine demand for getting the political, social and cultural rights of the Bodo people,” Assam Agriculture Minister and senior Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) leader Pramila Rani Brahma told IANS. BPF is an ally of the ruling Congress party in Assam.

The demand for a separate Bodoland gathered momentum at the Bodo National Convention which concluded here in western Assam Friday with 41 different groups advocating the need to carve out a tribal homeland for the estimated three million Bodo people out of 26 million people in the state. Those attending the two-day convention include the BPF; the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB); the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, a literary body; besides other socio-political formations of the Bodos.

“Turmoil began in the Bodo heartland with the demand for a separate Bodoland state way back in the late 1980s and even today it is a burning issue. Until and unless the agitation comes to a logical end (separate Bodoland), peace would continue to elude Assam,” NDFB general secretary Gobinda Basumatary told IANS.

“The people of Bodoland would fight for our political and cultural rights,” Basumatary added.

The NDFB faction led by Basumatary entered into a ceasefire with New Delhi in 2005 although formal peace talks are yet to begin.

‘Divide Assam 50-50’ was the slogan a decade ago with the Bodo heartland in western and northern Assam witnessing a string of violent attacks. The NDFB spearheaded the violence alongside the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), a group that surrendered en masse in 2003 following the Bodo Accord signed with New Delhi.

BLT leaders later formed the BPF, now an ally of the Congress party in Assam.
The Bodo Accord paved the way for bringing the curtains down on the BLT’s violent campaign for a Bodoland within the Indian union (the NDFB demands a state outside the Indian union) and creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), a politico-administrative structure.

BPF now heads the BTC.

“Let the demand for Bodoland continue and side by side let us also work towards development and put an end to the fratricidal clashes in our area,” BTC chief and former BLT leader Hagrama Mohilary told IANS. But amid the claims and demands, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has bluntly rejected the demand for Bodoland.

“We cannot allow Assam to be further fragmented on ethnic lines,” the chief minister told IANS.

Surely, the demand for Bodoland is once again going to put the region under the scanner with radical elements within the community, like the NDFB faction that is against talks, expected to hijack the movement by triggering violence.

~ Nagaland Post

No further division of Assam, asserts Gogoi

GUWAHATI, Nov 20 – Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today asserted that he is against further division of the State. He also announced that the state Government would bring a legislation to keep 30 percent of Government jobs reserved for people of rural areas.
Addressing a meeting of the elected representatives of the Panchayats and Municipalities belonging to the Congress in the Rabindra Bhawan here today, Gogoi said that instead of division of the State, he is keen on creating a greater Assam with all round development of all sections of people within the geographical boundary of the State.

The Chief Minister took the opportunity to launch a scathing attack on the AGP and BJP and said that the AGP’s tenure in power was the darkest period in the history of Assam. He said that the AGP and BJP stopped employment generation in Assam as the AGP Government signed a memorandum of understanding with the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre to stop appointments in Government departments. The former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta also did not oppose the demand of the NSCN for creation of Greater Nagalim by including areas of Assam, Gogoi alleged.

Gogoi alleged that the BJP leaders visit Assam only during the elections but they never visit the State whenever the State is in trouble. The BJP is also adopting double standard on the issue of construction of the Subansiri project. BJP leader Rajnath Singh recently opposed the project, which was started during the tenure of the NDA Government, he added.

The Chief Minister said that the Congress was not against construction of dams, but at the same time, he asserted that his party would never go against the interests of Assam. He said that Assam needs electricity for industrialization, but the interests of Assam would be taken care of while giving green signal for commissioning of any dam project. He said that the Subansiri project was taken away from the Brahmaputra Board and given to NHPC in the year 2000 when Prafulla Kumar Mahanta was the Chief Minister and NDA was in power in the Centre. But Mahanta did not oppose the same at that time and only now he is opposing the project, he said.

Gogoi further alleged that the AGP was formed with foreigners’ issue as the main plank, but during its two tenures in power, the party failed to do anything, while, the NDA Government also failed to take any effective step against the problem. Only Congress took effective steps to seal the international border, he added.

The Chief Minister also appealed to all Congress men to make the people aware of the welfare schemes of the government.

The meeting was also addressed by APCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita, Ministers Bharat Chandra Narah, Pramila Rani Brahma, Bhumidhar Barman, Ajanta Neog, Dr Nazrul Islam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Rockybul Hussain and others.

~ Source : Zolengthe

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