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Assam: NDFB chief released ahead of talks for more concessions to Bodos

NDFB chief Ranjan Daimary. File

NDFB chief Ranjan Daimary. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Tribe fighting for statehood since 1967 with the call to “divide Assam 50-50”

Ranjan Daimary, founder-chairman of the extremist group National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB), was released on an interim bail ahead of a “comprehensive agreement” in New Delhi expected to yield a slew of concessions for the Bodo tribal people.

The negotiations toward a peace deal are likely to be held in New Delhi on Monday.

The Gauhati High Court had on Friday granted a four-week interim bail to the head of the NDFB (Ranjan) faction after splits in the organisation since 2009. He was serving life imprisonment in a case related to the 2008 serial blasts that killed 84 and wounded 540 people.

“Our chairman hopes to ensure that the Bodo people, marginalised and victimised in Assam for decades, get a good deal toward greater development,” a member of the group said after meeting Mr. Daimary before he left for New Delhi for the talks next week.

Leaders of the Saoraigwra faction of the NDFB, many of whose members including its chairman B. Saoraigwra faction came overground more than a week ago and the NDFB (Progressive), are also scheduled to be part of the peace deal with the Centre. Representatives of civil society groups such as the All Bodo Students’ Union and the Bodo Sahitya Sabha are expected to attend too. 

It’s speculated the deal could see the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) being given more powers and its area expanded. The Bodo groups have also been demanding the increase in the number of Parliament and Assembly seats in BTC and areas beyond with sizeable population of the community.

A large part of the BTC area comes under the Kokrajhar Lok Sabha seat. The rest is divided among adjoining seats where non-Bodos are in a majority. The BTC areas have 12 Assembly constituencies, some of them extending beyond the council’s boundary.

Bodo groups have indicated that any agreement would not be final until the Bodos get a separate state. The largest plains tribe in the northeast, the Bodos have been fighting for statehood since 1967 with the call to “divide Assam 50-50”.

“We support the demand for a Bodoland state,” said Taren Boro, president of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha. 

The possibility of more power and concessions to the Bodoland council has made the non-Bodos uneasy. “Any agreement that eventually results in the curtailment of rights of the non-Bodos will not be acceptable to us,” the Sanmilita Janagosthiya Aikya Mancha, umbrella organisation of 19 non-Bodo groups, said in a statement.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 8:33:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-ndfb-chief-released-ahead-of-talks-for-more-concessions-to-bodos/article30652590.ece

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