Road to a Successful Agreement- NDFB

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News Desk

The last faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) – Saoraigwra – has signed an agreement with the government for suspension of operations. This fraction of NDFB signed a tripartite agreement with the Central Government of India and Assam government. According to the pact, the banned outfit NDFB will abjure violence and join in peace talks with the government.

Bodos are the single largest tribal community in Assam (~6 %of the population). They have controlled large parts of Assam in the past. The Bodos have had a long history of separatist demands, marked by armed struggle. In 1966-67, the demand for a separate state called Bodoland was raised under the banner of the Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA), a political outfit. In 1987, the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) renewed the demand. “Divide Assam fifty-fifty”

Photo-1: Map of Assam and Bodoland

The demand for a separate state for the Bodos has been going on in Assam for about five decades with several Bodo over ground and militant groups raising it, leading to agitations, protests and violence that resulted in many deaths. Alongside political movements, armed groups have also sought to create a separate Bodo state. The agitation for the creation of a separate Bodoland state resulted in an agreement between the Indian Government, the Assam state government and the Bodo Liberation Tigers Force (BLTF). According to the agreement made on 10 February 2003, the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was formed. It is an autonomous Administrative unit constituted under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

BTC is an entity subordinate to the government of Assam, was created to govern four districts covering 3082 Bodo majority villages in Assam. The four BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Area Districts) districts are Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang; it is approximately 11% of Assam’s area.

Photo-2: Map of BTAD

The administrative unit has been created with a mission to accomplish development in the area of economic, education, preservation of land rights, linguistic aspirations, socio-culture & ethnic identity of Bodos and to speed up the infrastructure development of communities in the BTC area.

National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) In October 1986, the prominent group Bodo Security Force (BdSF) was formed by Ranjan Daimary. The BdSF subsequently renamed itself as the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), an organization that is known to be involved in attacks, killings, and extortions. This group carried out several attacks in Assam targeting non-Bodo civilians as well as the security forces.  It has particularly targeted the indigenous people whose ancestors had been brought to Assam as tea laborers during the British regime. Since 2000, the NDFB increasingly targeted Bangladeshi migrants in areas it claims to be Bodo territory. The NDFB-S carried out the massacre of more than 80 indigenous people in Sonitpur district in December 2014.

The NDFB was divided into factions; the NDFB (P), led by Gobinda Basumatary and the NDFB (R), led by Ranjan Daimary in 2008. The NDFB (P) started talks with the central government of India in 2009. In 2010, Daimary was arrested and handed over to India by Bangladesh, and was granted bail in 2013. His faction (R) then began peace talks with the government. In 2012, Ingti Kathar Songbijit broke away from the NDFB (R) and formed his own faction, the NDFB (S). He was against talks with the govt.

In 2015, Songbijit was removed as the chief of the group and B Saoraigwra took over. NDFB (S) was the last major active faction of the Bodo insurgency.

Recently NDFB (S) formed a joint platform namely United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia along with NSCN-K and ULFA faction headed by Paresh Baruah. It was the only active Bodo insurgent group operating in Assam with demand for a separate state. Saoraigwra’s group was active in Myanmar along with other Northeast insurgent groups.

All the active members of the NDFB including Saoraigwra, its General Secretary, Commander-in-Chief and Finance Secretary have been brought back to India from Myanmar on January 11.

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