Bodoland

Bodoland is an area located in the north bank of Brahmaputra river in the state of Assam in north east region of India, by the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh; inhabited predominantly by Bodo language speaking ethnic group. Currently the map of Bodoland includes the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) administered by an autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). The map of Bodoland overlaps with the districts of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri in state of Assam. At present, Kokrajhar town serves as the headquarter (capital) of Bodoland.

Bodoland Movement

Demand for a Homeland, called Bodoland

The early history of Bodos is largely unknown. By definition, Bodos (pronounced BO-ROs) do not display tribalistic culture or rituals in that they do not live in caves or jungles or go hunting wild animals. For centuries majority Bodos remained as farmers, cultivators, and peace loving society. Like many cultures in the world today, Bodos are also ethnocentric or nationalist society. Cultural assimilation with Assamese was not productive. In brief, before the British Raj, Bodo-kachari Kingdom may have included a vast area extending far and beyond Assam, a small province in the North-East India. History suggest that Dimapur was the capital of Bodo-Kachari kingdom. The British-India colonial rulers effectively adapted divide and rule policy for over 300 years. It is likely that Bodo-Kachari were lagging behind their fellow Indians in terms of education and employability. Since the time of British Raj, Assam is known to produce oil and natural gas, and Assam tea. Before independence (1947), North-East India was a remote place, a land that was inaccessible due to heavy rain and forestation. Compared to other parts of India, such as West Bengal and Maharastra, Education came to North East India late, as late as after the independence. Even after India obtained independence, most official jobs were performed by immigrants from West Bengal, East Bengal (now Bangladesh), and other parts of British-India. When India obtained independence, Bodos were not represented by any group. In the process, like the Khasis (Hills-tribe), Bodos were given opportunity to take advantage of scheduled-tribe (ST, plains). This process lead to the creation of tribal belts and blocks, protected lands meant for farming and grazing, specifically for Bodo people.

Plains Tribals Council of Assam

In the early 60's the Plains Tribals Council of Assam (PTCA), a political party representing Bodos (pronounced BO-ROs) and other plains tribals of Assam realized that tribal belts and blocks were gradually being acquired by rich landlords or new immigrants through illegal means. Moreover, Bodos had little or no access to economic aid that were given by the central government. Without economic package to the Bodo dominated areas, education was a distant cry. In those days, there were hardly any roads that connected Bodo dominated area to the main cities of Assam. These were several reasons for which, in 1967, PTCA demanded a Union Territory called Udayachal, to be carved out of Assam. The proposed Udayachal map included mainly those areas that was known as tribal belts and blocks. The creation of tribal belts and blocks (for scheduled-tribes) was a mechanism to protect farming and grazing lands mainly from rich landlord and illegal immigrants. The demand for Udayachal never materialized. Many government came and gone, players changed and so did the game. By the end of 70's it became clear that Bodos had a little or no influence in the Indian political process. Specifically, in Assam Bodos areas were neglected. Neglects included diverting and misuse of tribal-plan funds. For similar reasons, Khasis and Garos, carved out Meghalaya from Assam. In the late 80's, All Bodo Students' Union's (ABSU) became very concerned about decades of neglects. ABSU and Bodo political parties jointly moved and demanded a separate state, called Bodoland.

All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU)

The official Bodoland Movement [George, Sudhir Jacob (1994) " [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0004-4687%28199410%2934%3A10%3C878%3ATBMIAU%3E2.0.CO%3B2-5 The Bodo Movement in Assam] ", Asian Survey 34(10) pp. 878-892] for an independent state of Bodoland started on March 2, 1987 under the leadership of Upendranath Brahma of ABSU. The ABSU created a political organization, the Bodo Peoples' Action Committee (BPAC), to spearhead the movement. The ABSU/BPAC movement began with the slogan "Divide Assam 50-50". The ABSU/BPAC leadership of the movement ended with the bipartite Bodo Accord [Bodo Accord, February 20, 1993, signed by Government of Assam, ABSU and BPAC.] of February 20, 1993 and the creation of the BAC. The accord soon collapsed amidst a vertical split in ABSU and other Bodo political parties brought about mainly by the split between S K Bwiswmuthiary and Premsingh Brahma, and violence erupted in Bodo areas leading to a displacement of over 70,000 people.

Illegal immigration remains a chronic problem for Assam. Notably, before the ABSU movement for Bodoland, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) launched agitation to stop illegal immigration. This long agitation by AASU provided initial impetus for Bodoland movement. One of the main objectives of the ABSU movement was to save tribal belts and blocks, and Bodo dominated areas from the illegal immigrants. Second, to establish educational institutions and create job opportunities, improve quality of daily life, and bring parity with Assamese folks. However, these objectives never materialized.

Bodo students plights

Even after independence, for several decades, higher education was out of reach for most Bodos. Universities and higher educational institutes are located in far away places such as Gauhati (now called Guwahati), Shillong, or Dibrugarh. Moreover, year after year majority Bodo students were denied admissions in Cotton College, Assam Agricultural University, Assam Engineering College and Gauhati University. In addition, even after obtaining a college degree, Bodos had limited or no job opportunities. These reasons fueled disappointment and anger among Bodo students. Although, Bodos were given ST quota, most of those jobs or opportunities went unfilled. Every office in Assam were filled with Assamese speaking folks, from officers down to peons. Creating a better educational opportunities for Bodos became first goal for ABSU's. However, as All Assam Students Union's (AASU) agitation to drive out illegal immigrants (year 1979-85) was slowing down, the demand for a separate state, called Bodoland was gaining momentum.

Bodo Liberation Tigers Force

The creation of Gorkhaland, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand serve as good examples of Indian democracy and political maturity. In contrast, the Bodo Accord has not brought noticeable changes to Bodoland in terms of education, job opportunity, business development, or improvement of existing institutions, roads, and communications. For these reasons, BTLF continued to agitate for a separate state within Assam. Nevertheless, this phase of the movement ended with the Memorandum of Settlement [ " [http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/assam/documents/papers/memorandum_feb02.htm Memorandum of Settlement on Bodoland Territorial Council] ", February 10, 2003, signed by Government of India, Government of Assam and Bodo Liberation Tigers (Bodo Liberation Tigers] with the BLTF on February 10, 2003, and the establishment of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) under the Sixth Sechedule of the Constitution of India. The BLTF, which was formed to accept the BTC Agreement, laid down their weapons on December 6, 2003 and its chief, Hagrama Mohilary , was sworn in as the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the interim BTC on December 7, 2003. The BLTF joined hands with the ABSU to form a political party, the BPPF, but soon parted ways in 2005 at the time of the BTC elections. After the elections Mohilary consolidated his powers. The success of his faction in the 2006 Assam Assembly Elections has created a situation in which the Bodos under the leadership of Hagrama Mohilary has considerable influence in the Government of Assam for the first time in history.

Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC)

The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) is a 46-member body established according to the Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) of February 10, 2003. The first elections for the BTC were held on May 13, 2005. [" [http://www.assamtribune.com/may3005/at01.html BTC Election results] "] Of the 46 members, 40 are elected, and the rest nominated. The BTC could have not more than 12 executive members each of whom looks after a specific area of control called somisthi. The area under the BTC jurisdiction is called the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD). The Council enjoys autonomy and control over departments specified in the MoS, but it does not control the district administration.

The BTAD consists of four contiguous districts—Kokrajhar, Baska, Udalguri and Chirang—carved out of eight existing districts—Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup, Darrang and Sonitpur—an area of 27,100 km² (35% of Assam).

Despite the Bodo accord, neglects remain, no economic parity is apparent. Lately, there are a few signs of efforts to improve these situations. However, there are thousands of people still languishing in refugee camps including Bodos and non-Bodos. Their lives have been disrupted several times in last two decades. Although, a few dozen single lane roads have been repaired in last few years, while hundreds of bridges remain in poor condition. Once in while, The Assam Tribune has been reporting those neglects. The national highway is in the process of expansion. Whether the BTC addressed the issues of Bodo self-determination is still an open question. " [http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2024/stories/20031205003103900.htm Territories of fear] " Frontline, 20:24, November 22, 2003]

ee also

*Bodo people
*Bodo culture
*Bodo language
*Bodo Sahitya Sabha

Notes

External links

* [http://www.bodoland.net bodoland.net]
* [http://www.bodoland.org Bodoland.org]
* [http://www.bodolandcouncil.org BTC official site]
* [http://www.geocities.com/ndfb2001 National Democratic Front of Boroland]


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