Bodoland movement to restart with renewed vigour in Assam
Guwahati, August 22: As the stalemate over the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state continues with the agitation by Gorkhas in the hills of West Bengal reaching almost 70 days, in neighbouring Assam, Bodos are preparing to restart their movement to demand a separate state of Bodoland from August 28 onwards.
Several pro-Bodoland groups have planned a series of protests beginning from August 28, which is likely to affect normal life, especially in the lower Assam districts, where the Bodos mostly reside.
Citing the reason behind restarting the protests, the Peoples' Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM), an umbrella body of 55 Bodo organisations, said the fresh agitation was announced as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government both at the Centre and the state failed to fulfil their pre-poll promise to solve the Bodoland issue through talks.
"The Bodoland agitation will start with a 10-hour national highway blockade by women on August 28 followed by 12-hour Assam strike on September 12 and a mass hunger strike from October 1," reported The Telegraph.
"They have also announced a 24-hour railway blockade in October and an indefinite economic blockade from November to further their 50-year-long demand for a separate Bodoland state," added The Telegraph report.
"We demand the BJP leadership to fulfil its election commitment by resolving the issue of a Bodoland state through tripartite talks at the political level at the earliest and constitutional rights and justice to the Bodos living outside the proposed Bodoland area. We have no option but to go for more protests as the government has remained apathetic to our constitutional demand to protect ethnic identity," the president of the All Bodo Students' Union (Absu), Pramod Boro, told The Telegraph.
First started in 1987, the Bodoland movement has witnessed several twists with signing of two accords and creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) comprising four districts in Assam.
But the demand for "dividing Assam 50:50" to create a separate state hasn't died down. Areas falling under the BTC witnessed major clashes between Bodos and other groups in 2012 and 2014 leading to over 100 deaths.
Even last year, Bodoland agitation took place. Assam has more than 25 lakh Bodos staying in various parts of the state.
The Bodos are an ethnic and linguistic aboriginal group of Assam. Bodos have been recognised as a plains tribe in the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Udalguri, Chirang, Baksa, Sonitpur, Goalpara, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Darrang, Bongaigaon, and Kokrajhar of Assam are considered the centre of the Bodo area.