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Bodo Peace Accord

Bodo Peace Accord

Why in news?

  • First anniversary of the 3rd Bodo Peace Accord was celebrated in Assam recently.
  • In February 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Assam government and the Bodo groups signed a tripartite agreement to redraw, rename and changing power-sharing agreement in the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) in Assam.
  • This agreement has been termed as Third Bodo Accord.

Who are bodos?

  • Bodos are the largest tribal community in Assam, making up over 5-6% of the state’s population.
  • The Bodos have had a history of separatist demands, mark by arm struggle.
  • The four districts in Assam — Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang that constitute the Bodo Territorial Area District (BTAD), are home to Bodos along with several other ethnic groups.
  • The demand for a separate state for Bodos is rooted in reasons like administrative and development apathy of the state of Assam, and a feeling that identity, culture and language of the Bodo people were subsumed by the Assamese and migrants.

Key points of the agreement  | Bodo Peace Accord

  • Bodoland Territorial Region would include the villages which are dominated by Bodos but are outside BTAD presently. Villages with non-Bodo population would be excluded from it.
  • BTAD renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region with more executive, administrative, legislative and financial powers.
  • A committee will be formed to decide the exclusion and inclusion of new areas. Subsequently, the total number of Assembly seats will go up to 60, from the existing 40.
  • Both the representatives of the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) will be present in the committee.
  • Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council will be set up for focused development of Bodo villages outside BTAD.
  • Bodos living in the hills of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.
  • Number of seats in Bodoland Territorial Council will be increased from 40 to 60.
  • Bodo language with Devanagari script would be the associate official language for the entire Assam.
  • Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police will be posted in consultation with the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the BTC.
  • However, the agreement has not addressed the issue of “citizenship or work permit” for non-domiciles in the BTAD yet.
  • A Special Development Package of Rs. 1500 crores over three years will be provided.

Significance of the agreement

  • The accord will successfully bring together leading stakeholders under one framework.
  • People previously associated with armed resistance groups will enter the mainstream and contribute to the nation’s progress.
  • It will further protect and popularise the unique culture of the Bodo people and will give them access to a wide range of development-oriented initiatives.
  • It will bring peace, harmony and togetherness in the people of Assam.

Background  | Bodo Peace Accord

  • The first Bodo accord was signed with the ABSU in 1993, leading to the creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with limited political powers. The BTC was created in 2003 with some more financial and other powers.
  • The BTAD and other areas mentioned under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution have been exempted from the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, that enables undocumented non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014 to apply for Indian citizenship.

Challenges

  • The new Bodo Accord has led to the intensification of the movement for Kamatapur State by organisations of the Koch-Rajbongshi community. The territory of the demanded Kamatapur State overlaps with the present BTAD.
  • Ripple Effect: The augmented area and powers of the BTC, under the new accord, may trigger fresh aspirations in the nine autonomous councils in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to graduate to the new model.
  • Ethnic Fault-line: Clamour for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by the Koch-Rajbongshi, Adivasis and several other non-ST communities has also grown.
  • Implementational issues: Biggest challenge before all the stakeholders, including the government, would be to make it sustainable by enforcing commitments given in the new peace-accord.

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Mussoorie Times

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