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Demand for Bodoland

Demand for Bodoland
Highlights

The Bodos, an ethno-linguistic group believed to be the earliest inhabitants of Assam, are one of the Indo-Mongoloid communities belonging to the...

After the formation of Talengana, there has been a revival of statehood demands across the country. Bodo organizations in Assam have followed suit and relaunched their statehood demand. More than a 1000 Bodos participated in an indefinite hunger strike in March, demanding a separate state called Bodoland. The strike was called off following promises by the state government to take up the issues with the Centre.

The Bodos, an ethno-linguistic group believed to be the earliest inhabitants of Assam, are one of the Indo-Mongoloid communities belonging to the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan family. At the zenith of their thriving civilisation, they ruled vast territories encompassing almost the entirety of northeast India, parts of Nepal, Bhutan, North Bengal and Bangladesh.

For centuries, they survived sanskritisation without giving up their original ethnic identity. However in the 20th century, they had to tackle a series of issues such as illegal immigration, encroachment of their lands, forced assimilation, loss of language and culture. Constant immigration from East Pakistan changed Assam’s demography gradually.Consequently, the Plains Tribals’ Council of Assam (PTCA) started to campaign for a separate union territory called Udayachal for the Bodos and other ‘plains tribes’ of Assam in 1960s.

The Bodos felt increasingly alienated with the unwillingness of both the central and state governments in resolving the issue. This in turn intensified the Bodo movement. No longer did they demand a union territory Instead, the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) started agitating for the creation of the Bodoland state.

However, the vigorous non-violent movement of the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) came to a halt with the formation of Bodo Autonomous Council (BAC) in 1993. The Council proved to be futile. With the failure of the Bodo Autonomous Council (BAC), a violent armed movement surfaced when the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), a rival group of the NDFB started agitating for a separate state within India.

Within a few years of its formation, the BLT concluded peace talks with the central and state governments. As a result, the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was granted under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution in 2003. The four districts under the BTC made minimal progress for the first decade after its formation. However, it could not fulfil the aspirations of the Bodos as issues like illegal immigrants, protection of tribal belts and blocks remained unresolved. (Courtesy: Article by Savio Daimary at www.youthkiawaaz.com)

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