Who are “Bodos”?
- The Bodos are an ethnic and “linguistic” aboriginal group of the Brahmaputra valley in the northeast part of India.
- The Bodos are recognized as a plains tribe in the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
- Udalguri and Kokrajhar of Assam are considered the centre of the Bodo area.
What are their Demand?
- A separate state(Bodoland)(within the Indian Union) be created by carving out some area of eight districts of the current State of Assam, namely Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup, Darang and Sonitpur districts.
- To protect and preserve the interest of the indigenous people of the region as well as to counter the effects of influx.
How is it currently administered?
- It is an Autonomous Administrative unit constituted under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
- BTC(Bodoland Territorial Council) governs BTAD(Bodoland Territorial Area District) since 2003 according to BTC Accord.
Critical Comments on the Issue
- Indigenous Population
- The demand for a separate state is being justified on the basis of protecting the indigenous population of the BTAD which itself is contested.
- The Bodos have portrayed themselves as the most rightful representatives of the BTAD. The BTC (Bodoland Territorial Council) is predominantly Bodo, as per the provisions of the Bodo Accord of 2003, but the BTAD areas do not have a homogenous demographic profile.
- In fact, some villages of the BTAD are inhabited by a significantly larger number of non-Bodos than Bodos. Thus, the non-Bodo and Muslim communities feel under-represented at the BTC, and have recorded their displeasure at the inequity in distribution of resources and lack of administrative powers.
- In addition is the territorial nature of the problem, which creates artificial boundaries in a naturally heterogeneous state and links ethnicity to land, leading to competing claims.
Lessons from BTC Accord(2003)
- 11 years have passed since the creation of Bodoland Territorial Council, the region ( BTAD-Bodoland Territorial Area District) still remains backward in terms of development.
- Funds meant for development are being pocketed by representatives in BTC for personal use.
- Violence still continues.
- Innocent women and children are still being killed brutally.
Aggrieved Non -Bodos
- Even more power to Bodos will only serve to inflame the already aggrieved and under-represented non-Bodos, who will most likely take to more intense, perhaps violent, means of agitation.
- In such an event, tensions will never cease and the region will continue to be volatile, possibly even more so than it is now.
The message by government to these groups should be that negotiations over reasonable demands can be the only option. State’s cannot be created for politicians convenience. Any nexus between politicians and militants to gain political mileage should be rooted out, so militancy gets no leeway in the sensitive region.
Sardar Patel worked very hard to integrate India, we cannot go back to splitting it into 500 provinces.
Do you think the demand for a separate state for Bodos is justified? In the light of increasing violence against non-Bodo people, critically comment. (200 Words)