Has durable peace returned to Bodoland? Birth of new rebel group belies Modi, Shah’s claim


Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The formation of a militant group in Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) belied the claim of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the return of permanent peace to Assam’s Bodo areas.

In this year’s Assam election campaign, the BJP, led by Modi and Shah, had sought to take credit for restoring peace in the Bodo areas. They had singled out the January 27, 2020 BTR peace accord for the gun falling silent.

However, the formation of the United Liberation of Bodoland (ULB) suggests peace in the Bodo areas is still elusive.

The Kokrajhar police gunned down two ULB insurgents in an encounter in the wee hours of Saturday. Two pistols and eight grenades were recovered from the site of the encounter.

In a video message, a leader of the militant organisation said the BTR pact was a raw deal for the Bodos who have fought for decades for a separate Bodoland state.

Declaring that it will continue with its fight till the long-cherished Bodoland state is achieved, he accused the Centre and the Assam government of hoodwinking the Bodos by making them to sign the “small” BTR agreement.

“As long as we don’t get Bodoland state, we will not rest. Our struggle will continue. We haven’t got what we needed for peace in Bodoland. There cannot be any peace without Bodoland. We need Bodoland,” the insurgent leader, seen flanked by his over a dozen masked and gun-wielding colleagues, said.

He claimed the young Bodo boys and girls were not happy with the BTR accord. They were hurt by the government’s statement that Assam will not be further divided, he said.

Further, he warned of killing government officials and triggering blasts across the state.

“In the coming days, if the police kill one innocent Bodo youth by branding him as a ULB member or its linkman, we will gun down 20 government officials,” the rebel leader threatened.

He asked the government to withdraw the cases against certain former leaders of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), release other NDFB rebels languishing in jail and rehabilitate all former NDFB extremists or else it would trigger a series of bomb blasts across Assam in October.

“We say it clearly and strongly,” the militant leader said.

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