GUWAHATI: Thousands of Bodo women on Monday blocked national highways for ten hours in parts of Assam as the Bodos launched a fresh movement demanding the creation of “Bodoland” state.
Holding placards that read “No Bodoland, No Rest”, the protesters blocked the highways at two places, thereby disrupting road communication.
To intensify the movement, some protesting Bodo organisations have called a 12-hour Assam bandh on September 11, which will be followed by a mass hunger strike and railway blockade. They are miffed that BJP had betrayed them by going back on its poll promises.
“By blocking the highways, the protesters have sent out a message to BJP-led Central and Assam governments to resume tripartite talks. If not, the movement will be intensified,” warned Promod Bodo, president of All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU).
ABSU, Peoples’ Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM) and insurgent group in peace mode National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive) are spearheading the movement.
The Bodos insist on the creation of Bodoland state from Sankosh to Sadiya on the north bank of the Brahmaputra, Constitutional safeguards for the protection of land and political rights of the Bodos living outside proposed Bodoland, resumption of the tripartite talks at the political level for early solution of the issue and the granting of Scheduled Tribe (Hill) status to the Bodos living in the state’s Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts.
“The Bodos are the founder of human civilisation of entire region. They have a distinct and unique history which have been denied and distorted after India had attained its Independence. A large number of Bodos took part in India’s freedom movement and sacrificed lives in the expectation that their history would be recognised and restored and their sacrifice appropriately made up by granting a state to them. Unfortunately, nothing of that sort happened in reality,” the three organisations said in a joint statement.
“Despite having a tangible ethno-linguistic difference, the Bodos were thrown into the fold of Assam and were victimised to forced assimilation into Assamese identity which was uncalled for and a historical blunder. The Bodos want to live with dignity and honour and want their language, culture, customs and tradition to be protected and safeguarded,” the statement said.
The Centre signed two accords – one in 1993 and the other in 2003 – with the Bodos. The three organisations believed that rights and provisions, conferred through the accords, were impotent to address the fundamental rights of the Bodos.
The Bodoland statehood movement has its genesis in the 1967 demand by the Bodos, who are the largest plains tribe of the Northeast, for carving a Union Territory named Udayachal out of Assam.
The demand was raised by the Plains Tribal Council following the realisation that the tribal belts and blocks, notified by the British, were being acquired by rich immigrant landlords.