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PCC CPIML’s statement

PCC CPIML’s statement on Bodoland Peace Accord

The Union government on 27th January 2020 signed a peace accord with all four factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and two other influential regional outfits in an agreement. By this agreement, the existing structure of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), comprising four districts, will be strengthened with more powers, and its seats will be expanded from 40 to 60. A commission will be set up for the inclusion of Bodo-dominated villages outside and in contiguity with BTC and the exclusion of those where non-Bodos are in majority. BTC will be renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).

The PCC CPIML has been opposing the formation of existing BTC on the ground that it was a political compromise with the Bodo chauvinist forces who have been demanding separate Bodoland for an exclusive right to rule a territory where the Bodos are minority. The territory where they want to establish their political domination witnessed the killings of non-Bodos in thousands and the uprooting of tens of thousands of non-Bodo people terrorised to live their dwelling houses to take shelter in make-shift refugee camps. A nationality cannot be free when at the same time continue to oppress other communities. PCC CPIML has been demanding a comprehensive dialogue with all the communities within that territory to reach to a lasting peaceful solution on devolution of power based on the principle of equal rights and dignity of all communities.

A commission was earlier set up under the chairmanship of Dr. Bhupendra Singh who submitted a proposal for multilayered autonomy for establishing the rights of all and to satisfy the democratic aspiration of the Bodo nationalities.

But unfortunately, this Government shelved Dr. Bhupendra Singh Commission report and unilaterally negotiated with armed Bodo outfit without involving the non-Bodo organisations, even the non-Bodo MP, Mr. Naba sarania, from this Bodoland territory was also not taken into confidence. Peace cannot be bought; it can be achieved through empowerment and democracy. On both these counts, this agreement failed to meet the basic tenets of co-existence and social cohesion.  

 Barring a few developmental sops, financial allurement and symbolic linguistic and cultural recognition, this agreement does not fundamentally empower the Bodo nationality and Bodo common masses, rather the BTR is an extension of the same BTC process to rehabilitate and empower the armed Bodo groups as was done earlier. As this group of people represents the interest of a class who are hangers-on of the ruling elite and ideologically bent on grabbing the state-exchequer and territorial resources, the non-Bodos along with common Bodo masses will be deprived from their rights. Exclusive land rights given by this agreement for the indigenous people may also be used as a tool to deprive and displace the Non-Bodos.

The commission to be formed by Central Government in liaison with BTR and State Government for inclusion and exclusion of Bodo and non-Bodo majority areas is fundamentally flawed as the constitution and modus operandi of the Commission by design may on every likelihood serve the interest of Bodo leaders and the ruling elites, it’s a genuine apprehension that non-Bodos will remain as marginalized as before. Though inclusion of Bodo majority areas is specified in the agreement, the exclusion criteria is kept under smokescreen, it is not clear whether the exclusion will be from existing BTC areas. The exercise of the commission must be a democratic process instead of becoming a tool for fascist linguistic and religious minority bashing. So, PCC CPIML demands that the commission must be constituted with members from all stakeholders and must undertake all-encompassing and transparent public-hearings.

The renaming of BTC to BTR, the monitoring power of the Central Government and financial control is all indicative to undermine the regional power of the state of Assam in the long run and this accord, instead of resolving the Bodo nationalist aspiration, will also encourage the new fractions of Bodo Chauvinist to demand full-fledged statehood in a territory where they are minority. So, PCC CPIML demands implementation of Dr. Bhupendra Singh Committee report in letter and spirit.

Chandradhar Kalita
PCC, CPIML
Assam State Committee

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Frontier
Jan 29, 2020