GAUHATI: A general strike was observed in Assam Monday in protest against the move to create a Bodo union territorial council consequent to the signing of a peace accord between Bodo rebel outfits, Assam and the union governments.
The 12-hour strike called by several non-Bodo organisations affected normal life in the Bodoland Territorial Area (BTAD) districts, Chirang, Baksa, Kokrajhar and Udalguri and parts of Biswanath, Lakhimpur and Sonitpur districts
The protesters opposing the Bodo deal blocked roads at several places in the BTAD districts and some other places since early morning. The strike didn’t have much impact in Kokrajhar town where Bodo groups are celebrating the deal, said a Hindustan Times report.
The agreement was signed in New Delhi on Monday with Assam's dreaded militant group - the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which demanded statehood for the BTAD districts. Union minister Amit Shah, who was present on the occasion, said the "historic accord," would "help develop the Bodo region and Assam".
The tripartite agreement was signed by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, top leadership of the four factions of the NDFB, ABSU, and the Centre. The All Bodo Students' Union, which has been spearheading the statehood movement, was also a signatory, an NDTV report said.
Following the signing of the agreement, more than 1,500 militants are expected to surrender on January 30. "They are not militants now, all are our brothers," said Amit Shah. Of them, those who have a clean record will be made part of the paramilitary forces. The families of those who died in the Bodo movement will receive Rs 5 lakh as compensation.
According to the agreement, the area called BTAD will be renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region and the Centre would expedite 'hills tribe' status to Bodo people living in the hill districts of Assam. The Bodo language, with Devnagri script, will become associate official language for entire of Assam.
The agreement also involves a hefty financial package -- the state government would give Rs 250 crore for 3 years to develop the area. The Centre will also add an equivalent amount, bringing the total to Rs 1500 crore.
The funds would be used to set up industry and employment package and promote eco-tourism. Under the socio-cultural package, the government will set up a Central University in name of Upendranath and a national sports university.
The other projects will include a regional medical institute, hotel management campus, a Mother Dairy plant, a National Institute of Technology and more Navodaya Vidyalayas.
Monday’s deal is the third Bodo accord signed in the past 27 years since the movement for a separate Bodoland for the state’s largest tribe started over four decades ago. The violent separatist movement has claimed hundreds of lives, injured many more and affected peace and development in Assam.
The first one signed with ABSU in 1993 led to creation of Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC). Ten years later the second deal was signed with Bodo Liberation Tigers and led to formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which included Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri districts (collectively called BTAD) (with inputs from Hinudstan Times)
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