Assam’s Bodos, one of the most vibrant tribes known for their customs, landscapes and warmth, came together in Kokrajhar on Monday to celebrate three peaceful years of the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR), after decades of violence and chaos.
THE DARK PHASE
Bodoland’s decades-long ethnic conflict flared up even further in 2012, with the major clash between the All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union and cadres of Ex Bodo Liberation Tigers amid the strife. It later turned into a communal clash between the Bodos and minority Muslims in the state, leading to loss of hundreds of lives. The crisis continued, putting a long pause on peace and development. Violence raged owing to the fight between the Bodos and non-Bodos, groups like National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) taking away arms to demand, Muslims and Bodos, Marwadis and Bodos, kidnapping, bombarding, firings, counter firing and deaths, leaving the common people helpless.
The main demand was a separate state on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra and one council in the name of Nilachal in the Southern bank. The other most important demand was ST hills to the Bodo people of Karbi Anglong.
Where Peace reigns, Progress follows.As we celebrate 3 years of unprecedented peace & incredible progress in BTR, we give thanks to all who made this day possible.
We will continue this journey of Peace, Progress & Good Governance unabated, I promise!#BTRCelebratingPeace
— Pramod Boro (@PramodBoroBTR) November 20, 2023
THE BTR ACCORD
After 1993 and 2003, when two attempts by the Centre to sign agreement with the people of Bodoland to meet the demands and bring back peace failed, on January 27, 2020, the peace accord was signed. As part of it, the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), comprising the four Bodo tribe dominated districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa, and Udalguri, and the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) became the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).
THE BEFORE AND AFTER
More than 1,500 cadres of the NDFB surrendered on January 30, 2020. The cadres of all four factions of the NDFB — NDFB (Dhiren Bodo), NDFB (Progressive), NDFB (Ranjan Daimary) and NADFB (S) laid down their arms before then Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a ceremony at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) auditorium in Guwahati.
The NDFB cadres deposited 178 weapons, including an AK series rifle, M-16 rifle, 4,803 rounds live ammunition, 14 grenades and one 2-inch mortar.
Among the cadres, 836 were from NDFB (Dhiren Bodo), NDFB (Progressive), 579 from NDFB (Ranjan Daimary) and 200 from NDFB (S) faction.
Best wishes on this important milestone. Under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister, the people of BTR are living up to their fullest potential in an environment of sustained peace and progress. https://t.co/6TYI3QRYsD— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 20, 2023
WHAT DID BODOLAND GET FROM THE ACCORD?
The demand for a separate state for Bodoland has now been compensated by declaring it a territorial council in the north bank.
A welfare commission has been set up for development of Bodos in the state.
Speaking exclusively to CNN-News18, BTR Chief Pramod Bodo said, “The face of BTR has changed after the accord. We have seen the switch from chaos to peace, and violence to development. The people in Bodoland have suffered too much for too long. People were earlier afraid to come to Bodoland, and we went backwards in development. The accord has given safety to our ethnic identity. It has given our people jobs, instead of guns. The underground groups surrendered and they have been rehabilitated, making them a part of the mainstream India.”
“It has become possible only because of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government in Assam. They have given us the attention we needed. Earlier, the governments in power only played the role of audience of the bloodshed and violence that was happening in BTR,” he added.
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Speaking to CNN-News18, NDFB (R) general secretary B Ohnjalu said, “We had to fight for our demands earlier. There was chaos and violence in this region. It was a very hectic life for people before the agreement. Almost all our cadres have been rehabilitated with the BTR government schemes. In sports, too, we have seen development. Santosh Trophy and Durrand Trophy coming to Bodoland is a huge sign of development and prosperity for the youths in the region.”
A local resident said, “We are very happy today. The scenario has changed completely. Now, people of all castes, creeds and religion stay together without any clash. We are very happy.”