Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday told statehood agitators that the Centre had given its consent to hold talks with organisations of the Bodos, the Koch-Rajbangshis, Karbis and Dimasas. Delivering his address after the ceremonial hoisting of the national flag on the occasion of 67th Independence Day at Khanapara here, the Chief Minister made a fervent appeal to all the organisations seeking statehood to call off their agitation and come for talks.
The All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) and several other Bodo organisations have announced agitational programmes, including national highway and railway blockade, hunger strike, and mass rallies, beginning on August 20 to press for the creation of a separate Bodoland. The All Koch-Rajbangshi Students’ Union (AKRSU) and other Koch-Rajbangshi bodies have also announced their next phase of agitation from Friday to press for a separate Kamatapur state comprising 15 districts of Assam and six districts of West Bengal. However, the ABSU and AKRSU had announced that they would review their agitation if the Centre invited them for tripartite talks.
The Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State (JACAS), a banner organisation of Karbi bodies demanding the creation of an autonomous State comprising the twin hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao, is likely to announce its next phase of agitation on Friday as it had set August 15 deadline for the Centre to hold tripartite talks.
Mr. Gogoi said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Ministry of Home Affairs had consented to holding talks with the organisations and, therefore, they should give up the path of agitation and come forward to settle their grievances across the table. Reiterating his stand against further division of Assam, the Chief Minister said in his Independence Day address: “The Government is of the view that despite our myriad problems we can all stay together as one family.”
He said that it was unfortunate that the statehood movement had turned violent in certain parts of the State and reiterated that violence was not the answer to the problems. While every community and citizen had the right to agitate in a democratic and peaceful manner for settling grievances, violence and wanton destruction of public properties could not be used as legitimate means for such purposes, he added.