Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Sunday that his government was willing to discuss statehood if the Bodo agitators shunned the path of violence.
Mr. Gogoi’s offer came amidst stray incidents of violence for the fifth consecutive day in central Assam’s hill district Karbi Anglong. It also came on a day when the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), a partner in the Congress-led government, organised a massive rally in the lower Assam town of Kokrajhar to press for the creation of a separate state of Bodoland. Speakers at the rally, including the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief and BPF president Hagrama Mohilary, said if Telangana could be created, then so could Bodoland be. Mr. Mohilary said the rally was attended by all sections of the people living in the proposed Bodoland and that the statehood movement would be intensified in a peaceful and non-violent manner.
Mr. Gogoi, who returned from New Delhi, said here in a statement that the doors for negotiations were always open for those who eschewed violence. “Violence will not solve any problem. Rather, it will compound matters. Only through non-violent, democratic and peaceful means can problems be resolved amicably.” He warned the agitators that the government would not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands.
Meanwhile, curfew was relaxed from 8 a.m. to 12 noon in Diphu town and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Dongkamokam in Karbi Anglong.
Mr. Gogoi’s statement came on the eve of a 60-day Assam Bandh called by the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) demanding the bifurcation of Assam and the creation of Bodoland. A Bodo political party, United Democratic People’s Front (UDPF), has called a 1,500-hour bandh from Monday.