GUWAHATI: The third Bodo Accord, signed on Monday and dubbed historic, evoked mixed reactions in Assam’s Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD).
While the Bodos were euphoric that they achieved something after four decades of a violent armed movement, the non-Bodos living in BTAD were fuming as the Centre did not take them on board while signing the deal.
Celebrations among the Bodos started on Monday soon after the signing of the accord in New Delhi. They congratulated one another and distributed sweets. They also burst firecrackers, sang and danced.
Hundreds of Bodos swarmed to Guwahati airport on Tuesday morning to receive the leaders of four rebel groups and other organisations which signed the accord. Later, a public function was held in Chirang district of BTAD.
“This is a historic accord signed keeping in mind the interests of all communities living in BTAD. I don’t think people will have any complaint about it,” Rajya Sabha member, Biswajit Daimary, said.
Promod Bodo, who is the president of the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) and a signatory of Monday’s accord, also welcomed it.
“It will help solve the protracted Bodo problem and bring about lasting peace in BTAD,” he told this newspaper.
The non-Bodos, however, felt the accord would ensure Bodo hegemony in BTAD.
“While signing it, the Centre ignored the political, social, and economic rights of the non-Bodos living in BTAD. In pleasing 27% people, the government ignored the rights of 73% others,” said Hiteswar Barman, advisor to the All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union.
The BTAD, which comprises four Lower Assam districts, has just one Lok Sabha seat (Kokrajhar). The Bodos make up one-fourth of the voters.
Barman criticised the Centre for its decision to increase the number of seats in Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) from the existing 46 to 60. The BTC partially administers the four BTAD districts.
Khagen Chandra Roy, a surrendered leader of rebel group Kamatapur Liberation Organisation, said, “It was a black day for all non-Bodos living in BTAD.” The various non-Bodo organisations have threatened to launch an agitation.