Bodoland Movement Demands Separate State, Blockades National Highway

Bodos Want Promised Separate State

The long-standing demand of Bodos and Bodoland organizations for a separate Bodoland State and their political rights came to a head as multiple organizations arranged a national Highway Blockade on 9th January.

The organizations included the All Bodo Students Union, national Democratic Front of Boroland (p) and the People’s Joint Action Committee for Boroland Movement.

The groups issued a press release noting they organized the Maha Dharna on 12th December at Jantar Mantar, Mahar Rally on 13th December from Rajghat to Jantar Mantar via Parliament Street and Maha Satyagraha at Jantar Mantar on 14th December in the National Capital.

The aim of the series of rallies was to:

  1. Resolve the demand to immediately create Bodoland state
  2. Ensure the political right for the Bodos living outside the proposed Bodoland area
  3. Protect, Preserve and safeguard the identity of the Boro and other tribal people with language, culture and tradition by creating the Bodoland state
  4. Secure justice for Bodos to live with dignity and honour in their inherited land

The groups submitted an information letter to both Prime Minister Modi and the Home Minister.

The indigenous Boro people, living in Assam have long been victimized through socio-economic explotation, suppression, oppression and political domination. They say they are in danger of total extinction because of the actions and inaction of Assam and India.

It has been 70 years since India became independent, and the state has failed to protect, preserve and safeguard the Boro people, their land, their identity, their language, and their culture. Fifty years ago, in 1967, the Boro people launched their movement for socio-political rights. Thirty years ago, in 1987, the All Bodo Students Union launched the first phase of their movement for a Bodoland state.

Before the last election, the BJP promised to resolve the issues that had dragged on unresolved for many years, and Bodos voted for that basis and swept them to power. Two and a half years have now passed and the BJP appears to have lost its political will to resolve the issue.

The Bodos have been very patient, but their patience is running out.

In 2013 and 2014, four rounds of tripartite talks were held between the Assam and UPA Governments and Bodo groups. The issues were not resolved.

For these reasons and others, a blockade of the National Highway was arranged.

The blockade affected Kokrajhar, Bagsa, Udalguri, Sonitpur, Dhemaji, Morigaon and Goalpara, starting at 5am.

The National Highway Blockade is not the end of the actions planned.

They are also organizing a 24 hour Railway Blockade, an indefinite Mass Hunger Strike in February, a 36 hour Railway Blockade in March, Jail Bharo in April, Non Cooperation with the state government in May, and other rallies to be announced, until the government resolves the Bodoland issue.

Some essential services are exempt from the blockages. These include Defence, Press, Milk vans, Medical, Wedding Parties and Educational excursions.

The groups are appealing to the Government of India to resolve the Bodoland issue with a pragmatic policy decision and promised before the election. More than five thousand lives have been lost during agitations over the past fifty years, but the groups are determined to continue their agitations while the government ignores their demands and breaks the promises made.

highway-blockade-pr1highway blockade press release part 2

highway blockade press release part 3

Shib Shankar Chatterjee is a former BBC, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Statesman & The Telegraph Contributor-cum-Correspondent from Northeast India, who specializes in investigations of important issues affecting the people of South Asia, specially, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan & Myanmar.