ABSU wants Centre to immediately initiate a political dialogue
Thousands of Bodo people, who assembled on Friday at Amingaon in lower Assam's Kamrup district to attend a mass rally under the banner of the All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU), vowed to intensify their struggle for the creation of a separate State of Bodoland, to be carved out of Assam.
The rally marked the completion of 25 years of the statehood movement spearheaded by the apex student body of the Bodos, the largest plains tribe of Assam.
Addressing the gathering, ABSU president Pramod Boro demanded that the Centre immediately initiate a political dialogue on the issue. He pointed out that after the statehood movement was revived in 1996, the Centre had told Bodo leaders that it had no policy to create new States.
“However, in 2000, the government created three new States, while turning down the demand for a separate Bodoland. Again, at the time of signing the second Bodo Accord, the Centre told the Bodoland Liberation Tigers leaders that it had no policy to create a new State and hence an arrangement under the amended provisions of the Sixth Schedule had to be accepted in lieu of statehood. If the Government of India creates a new State of Telangana by denying the long standing demand for Bodoland, it would be unjust to the aboriginal Bodo people. Therefore, we urge the Government of India to create Bodoland in line with the creation of any new State in the country,” Mr. Boro said.
“Bodoland is our birth right; we are determined to achieve it at any cost. We have lost thousands of lives fighting for it, so there is no question of discontinuing the movement. We are ready for a do-or-die situation; thousands were killed in the last movement by the State Police and other forces of Assam, lakhs of Bodos are ready to die for the cause of Bodoland again. Now it is up to the Centre to either create Bodoland or take our lives.”
The rallyists carried placards reading “Divide Assam 50:50,” “No Bodoland, No Rest.”
The ABSU leaders also said that the stand taken by the Assam government that the State cannot be further divided has no “logic or meaning.”
“Assam must be divided today or tomorrow to ensure tribal rights as once this land belonged to the tribals of Bodo origin and other ethnic groups,” the student body insisted.
It was on this day in 1987 that the ABSU, under the leadership of ‘Bodofa' (Father of the Bodos) late Upendra Nath Brahma, formally declared the statehood movement.
The six year-long vigorous Bodoland movement culminated in the signing of the first tripartite Bodo Accord on February 20, 1993 among the ABSU, Centre and the Assam government, paving the way for the creation of the erstwhile Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) and the suspension of the statehood movement. The ABSU revived the movement in 1996 on the ground that the BAC had failed to fulfil the aspirations of the Bodos.
Meanwhile, the erstwhile militant outfit BLT launched an armed struggle for statehood. On February 10, 2003 the second tripartite Bodo Accord was signed by the BLT with the Centre and the Assam government. The existing Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was created under amended provision of the Sixth Schedule and the ABSU suspended the movement.
However, on March 2, 2010, the student body decided to revive the movement accusing the BTC of again failing to meet the hopes of the Bodos and charging the Assam government with not protecting their identity, culture and language.
Keywords: Bodo statehood demand