Now, northeast Bodo group demands separate statehood

K Anurag

Guwahati: The movement for a separate state of Telangana  in the south is having its repercussion in northeast India  too. Now, the Bodoland People's Front, a tribal political group comprising former insurgents, has stated that a separate state for the Bodo tribe in Assam would be a must if the Centre grants a Telengana state.

The leader of the BPF, Hagrama Mohilary said, "A separate Bodoland has been a long standing demand. However, when we signed the Bodo Peace Accord  in February 2003, the then National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre told us that there was no policy to grant any more states in the country and hence we settle for Bodoland Territorial Council."

He further said, "In case the present United Progressive Alliance  regime at the Centre relents to the Telengana movement and create a separate state, then our demand for statehood too has to be fulfilled."

The BPF was formed by the leaders of the now disbanded Bodo militant group Bodo Liberation Tiger after it had signed the Bodo peace accord with the Indian government in 2003 after a prolonged armed rebellion in Bodo tribe inhabited areas in Assam. The BLT's key demand was for creation of a separate state for the Bodo tribe in Assam, which failed to cut ice with the Union government then.

The BPF is now the only ally of the ruling Congress in Assam and is in power in Bodoland Territorial Council which was created under the provisions of the Amended Sixth Schedule as per the Bodo Peace Accord.

Meanwhile, the BPF as well as other constituents of Bodo National Convention on Saturday met Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi  urging him to take firm steps to start the process of political negotiations with the both the factions of outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland to restore lasting peace in Bodo tribe inhabited areas in Assam.

The NDFB faction, led by Govinda  Basumatary, is in truce with the government and is awaiting the beginning of political negotiation.

The BNC on Saturday urged the chief minister to take steps to bring the other faction of the NDFB (anti-talks) led by Ranjan Daimary to the negotiation table. The CM in response entrusted the BNC leaders to get in touch with NDFB (anti-talks) leadership to find out whether they were willing to hold dialogue with the government or not.

The NDFB(anti-talks) supreme, Ranjan Daimary, who is now lodged in jail, is the key accused in the October 30, 2008, serial blasts in Assam that killed over 90 persons. The BNC now maintains that he too should be allowed to go on bail in case the outfit wished to talk with the government.

"The government has already released all senior United Liberation Front of Assam leaders on bail to hold talks with the ULFA faction led by Arabinda Rajkhowa. The same policy should be adopted in case of the NDFB leader Ranjan Daimary in the interest of restoring permanent peace in Bodo inhabited areas of the state," BPF chief Mohilary said.