Third Bodo Accord


  • On 27th January, 2020, the Union Home Ministry , the Assam government and Bodo groups — including all factions of the militant National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and All Bodo Student’s Union (ABSU)— signed the third Bodo accord,an agreement for peace and development paving the way for political and economic benefits for the Bodo community.

Bodo Issue 

  • Bodo dissatisfaction started due to the resettlement of other communities on their land in Assam and the increasing pressure on the land.The Bodos wanted supremacy over the politics, economy and natural resources of their region.
  • The first organised demand for a Bodo state came in 1967-68 under the banner of the political party Plains Tribals Council of Assam.
  • The Bodo movement for a separate state became violent after the 1980s and was divided into three factions.
  • The first faction was led by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which wanted a separate state for itself.
  • The second group is the Bodoland Tigers Force (BTF), which called for greater autonomy.
  • The third faction is the All BodoStudent’s Union (ABSU), which sought a political solution while looking for a middle path.
  • In 1985, when the Assam Movement culminated in the Assam Accord, many Bodos saw it as essentially focusing on the interests of the Assamese-speaking community.
  • In 1987, the ABSU revived the Bodo statehood demand.

Bodo Community

  • The Bodo are a part of the greater Bodo-Kachari family of ethno linguistic groups spread across northeastern India and clustered strongly in Assam, along the eastern Duars.
  • Bodos are the single largest community among the notified Scheduled Tribes in Assam.
  • Traditionally, Bodos practiced Bathouism, which is the worshiping of forefathers, known as Obonglaoree.
  • In ancient Sanskrit literatures, Bodos were called as Kiratas and Mlecchas. Bodos were also formerly known as Rangtsa or Ramsa.

Important Clans of Bodos

  • Swarg-Aroi
  • Basumati-Aroi
  • Ramsa-Aroi

Previous Bodo Accords(Memorandum of Settlement)

  • The ABSU-led movement from 1987 culminated in first Bodo Accord in 1993, which paved the way for a Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC), but ABSU withdrew its agreement and renewed its demand for a separate state.
  • The second Bodo Accord was signed in 2003 by the extremist group Bodo Liberation Tiger Force (BLTF), the Centre and the state. This led to the formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC)

  • The Bodoland Territorial Council was constituted under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India in the year 2003.
  • The BTC has 46 executive members each looking after a specific area of control called Somisthi. The area under the BTC jurisdiction is officially called the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).
  • The BTAD consists of four contiguous districts - Kokrajhar, Baksa, Udalguri and Chirang(total 35% of Assam) — carved out of seven existing districtsKokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup, Darrang and Sonitpu.
  • The BTAD and other areas mentioned under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution have been exempted from the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Communities Residing in BTC Area

  • Bodos , Assamese , Bengalis, Koch-Rajbongshis, Rabhas, Garos , Adivasis, Muslims and Nepalies, etc.

Key Points of New Accord

  • The area under the jurisdiction of BTC, formed under the 2003 Accord, was called the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD). From now, the BTAD will be known as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).
  • The government will set up a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council for focused development of Bodo villages outside BTAD — which opens up a way to potentially address the needs of Bodos outside BTAD.
Source: Indian Express
  • As per the agreement, villages dominated by Bodos that were presently outside the BTAD would be included and those with non-Bodo population would be excluded.
  • Bodos living in the hills would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.
  • It provides for more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to BTC; and amendments to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to “improve the financial resources and administrative powers of BTC”.
  • Acoording to the 2020 agreement, the Government of Assam will notify Bodo language in Devanagri script as the associate official language in the state.
  • The accord does not have any provisions for a separate state. Instead, it seeks to “augment area and powers” of the existing Bodoland Territorial Council and “streamline its functioning”.

Source: ToI

Impact

  • End of Bodo Crisis: The signing of the agreement would end the 50-year-old Bodo crisis and help in ensuring lasting peace in the BTAD that had been torn apart by decades of violence and ethnic conflicts.
  • Protecting Bodo Culture: It would further protect and popularise the unique culture of the Bodo people. They will get access to a wide range of development-oriented initiatives.
  • Reaffirming Territorial Integrity: The accord will lead to transformative results for Bodosas it successfully brings together the leading stakeholders under one framework, reaffirming the territorial integrity of Assam.
  • Fulfilling Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas, Sab ka Vishwas: The Accord is line with the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas, Sab ka Vishwas’.Those who were previously associated with armed resistance groups will now be entering the mainstream ushering in a new dawn of peace, harmony and togetherness contributingboth to state and nation’s progress.

Way Forward

  • The latest accord brings an end to the Bodo politics. However,there are concerns that the latest settlement repeats a mistake of the previous twoaccords: it does not take on board the non-Bodo population of the area, who, in fact, form a majority in the area may lead to fresh power struggle in the area.
  • The lack of non-Bodo representation in these peace arrangements has meant that ethnic conflicts have continued despite them. In 2008, clashes between Bodos and Muslims of Bengali origin left more than 100 dead and displaced a lakh and a half.
  • The success of this new Accord will solely depend upon proper implementation of its changes and the cooperation between the Bodo and nonBodo communities.