‘No Bodoland, no rest’, women take centre stage as Bodoland protest restarts in Assam
Guwahati, August 29: It's the women protesters who took centre stage after the Bodos, the ethnic and linguistic aboriginal group of Assam, restarted their agitation for a separate Bodoland state on Monday.
Women in thousands blocked national highways for 10 hours in several parts of Assam to demand the creation of Bodoland state as soon as possible.
The women protesters in large numbers were seen sitting on the roads with placards in their hands that read, "No Bodoland, no rest".
The large assembly of women protesters on the highways led to the disruption of movement of vehicles. As a part of their ongoing protests several Bodo organisations have called a 12-hour Assam bandh on September 11. Thereafter, Bodo protesters are also planning to stage mass hunger strike and railway blockade.
The Bodo organisations recently announced that they were going to restart their agitation as they were miffed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for not fulfilling its poll promise of granting them their separate state--a long pending demand. The BJP has its governments both at the Centre and in the state.
The latest agitation is being spearheaded by the All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU), Peoples' Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM) and insurgent group in peace mode National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive).
"By blocking the highways, the protesters have sent out a message to the BJP-led Central and Assam governments to resume tripartite talks. If not, the movement will be intensified," warned Promod Bodo, president of ABSU.
The organisations guiding the protests have issued a joint statement on Monday.
"The Bodos are the founder of human civilisation of entire region. They have a distinct and unique history which have been denied and distorted after India had attained its Independence. A large number of Bodos took part in India's freedom movement and sacrificed lives in the expectation that their history would be recognised and restored and their sacrifice appropriately made up by granting a state to them. Unfortunately, nothing of that sort happened in reality," the three organisations said in a joint statement.
"Despite having a tangible ethno-linguistic difference, the Bodos were thrown into the fold of Assam and were victimised to forced assimilation into Assamese identity which was uncalled for and a historical blunder. The Bodos want to live with dignity and honour and want their language, culture, customs and tradition to be protected and safeguarded," the statement said.
First started in 1987, the Bodoland movement has witnessed several twists and turns with the signing of two accords and creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) comprising of 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, the 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. The 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 as the centre of the Bodo area.