It is shocking to read in the article of Home Minister Amit Shah dated 30th May 2020 in a leading newspaper of India titled ‘Undoing 6 decades in 6 years : Modi has turned India into a self-reliant country brimming with self-confidence’, that ‘The Bru-Reang Refugee problem pending for years was also resolved in the first year of Modi2.0 under the Bodo Accord’!! As Home Minister he is expected to be aware that while the Bru-Reang Refugee is an issue related to Mizoram and Tripura, the Bodo Accord is related to the Bodo community of Assam.
The first Bodo Accord was signed in the year 1993. The second Bodo Accord which was signed in the year 2003 led to the surrender of the Bodo extremist group -Bodo Liberation Tigers ( BLT) and the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council ( BTC) under the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution. The BTC comprising four districts of Udalguri, Kokrajhar, Baksa and Chirang was considered to be under the Bodoland Territorial Area District or the BTAD for administrative purposes. This Accord was also followed by the election of its first Council with surrendered BLT leader Hagrama Mohilary as its chief or Chief Executive Member.
The third Accord was signed in the year 2020 and as per the peace agreement on 2nd January 2020 the cadres of the banned insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland ( NDFB) received general amnesty – ” The Government of India shall grant general amnesty to the convicts of the NDFB ( if any) and withdraw all the cases and charges framed” against workers and supporters of the militant outfit. The BTAD was renamed as BTR or Bodoland Territorial Region and its assembly seats have been increased from 40 to 60. However the issues of inclusion of villages contiguous with the BTAD and exclusion of those which are contiguous with non-Sixth Scheduled areas in the new BTR will be a long drawn out process for ultimate settlement. The Accord also announced with great fanfare the 1,500 crore package and it remains to be seen how much will actually be disbursed in reality and how soon.
BTC elections were due in April but due to the Covid 19 situation the elections have been postponed and President’s rule has been imposed which in political circles has been considered unnecessary and the Bodoland People’s Front’s MP Biswajit Daimary has been vociferous in decrying the imposition of President’s rule. According to him and his party the incumbent government should have been allowed to continue in these unprecedented times.
On the other hand the Brus – Reangs are the displaced tribals of Mizoram living as refugees in Tripura.
Now how could an Honorable Home Minister of India confuse the Brus and Reangs with the Bodos is baffling! Forget about ethnic distinction what about geographical position? Either he has not been briefed properly by his bureaucrats or the bureaucrats who briefed him did not do their homework. Whatever maybe the reason it exposes how serious is the engagement of the powers be, to the people of the North Eastern region. It only reveals a callous lack of sincere engagement to differentiate one from the other. The whole North East seems to be one for them best to be clubbed together. Who notices after all?!
(Bobbeeta Sharma is the General Secretary and Senior Spokesperson of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee)