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The New Bodo Accord! Should it be celebrated?

The Centre government, the Assam government and BODO groups — including all fractions of the militant National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) - signed an agreement for peace and development.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said “the new accord marked afinal and comprehensive solution” to the demand of the Bodos, while retaining the territorial integrity of Assam.

According to the agreement, the Bodoland Territorial Area District will hold special rights for the locals. However, the outsiders will have to obtain “permit” to work in the territory.

What is the accord exactly?

  • The Memorandum of settlement seeks to “augment area and powers” of the existing Bodo land Territorial Council and “streamline its functioning”.
  • Apart from the All Bodo Students’ Union, the nine signatory groups include all four fractions of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland.
  • The most significant point is that the Accord marks end of the armed movement. The coming of all factions of the armed groups together to sign the Accord and call it a truce is a major achievement.
  • 1,550 Bodo members will surrender on January 30, 2020, with 130 weapons.
  • The accord talks about rehabilitation of the cadres of the armed Bodo group, and promotion and protection of cultural identity and land of the Bodos by establishing the following:

* New Bodoland Territorial Region will be set up.
* The Bodoland Territorial Area District will now be known as Bodoland Territorial Region.
* A national sports university to be set up.
* A railway coach factory to be set up.
* Sports Authority of India centres at Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang.
* A cancer hospital and medical college at Tamulpur.
* A veterinary college at Kumarikata.
* A central university and RIIMS.
* Institutes of livelihood management and hotel management.
* A regional campus of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University.
* A Bodo memorial museum.
* A National Institute of Technology campus in Udalguri.

  • Bodo tribes will get political and economic benefits after this agreement. The agreement will provide some political rights and some economic packages to the community.

What is the Bodo Issue?

  • The Bodo people are the largest tribe of Assam settled in the Northern part of the Brahmaputra river valley. According to an estimate, the Bodo tribe is about 28 percent of Assam’s population.
  • The Bodo tribe has been complaining that their land in Assam was occupied by other cultures and communities with different identities. In 1966 the Bodotribals formed the Plains Tribal Council of Assam (PTCA) and demanded a separate union territory Udayachal.

The movement rose in 1990s and transcended into factions:

  1. The first group NDFB was demanding a separate state for itself.
  2. The second group Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) is demanding greater autonomy and targeted non-Bodo groups.
  3. The third group All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) is looking for more political powers and involvement in state administration
  • The government of India has been signed three agreements with Bodo tribes so far for 27 years. Several clashes between extremists groups of Assam and the government have claimed hundreds of lives.

CAA and the New BODO Accord

The BTAD and some other areas are mentioned under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Thus, they are exempted from the newly amended Citizenship Act.

The Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution. 

Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC). ADCs are bodies representing a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.   

The tweaked CAA states that areas under the Sixth Schedule are exempted from its purview, which means non-Muslim refugees from the three countries who are granted Indian citizenship will not have any land or trading rights in the autonomous regions.

This essentially means the refugees can neither reside or settle in the 10 autonomous districts, nor enjoy benefits extended to the tribals, even if they are provided with Indian citizenship.

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