The pro-talk faction of the Assam militant group, renamed National Democratic Front of Boroland (Progressive), NDFB(P), is in dialogue with the Government of India on the issue of a separate state.
The group, which has been working through an agreed peace process for the last six years, feels they are being ignored and warns that talks are in danger of breaking down. They are appealing to leaders of the Indian parliament, to help them achieve their aims for a separate state.
They had already met and submitted several memorandums to different heads of the government raising their demand of statehood under Articles 2 & 3 of the Constitution of India.
“Due to lack of political will on the part of the Government of India in conceding the legitimate demand, the dialogue is on a snail pace. The peace process may break down at any moment unless the Government of India takes a pragmatic and sympathetic approach to solve the vexed Boroland issue,” warned the NDFB(P) leaders.
“It is a fact that the Boro people have a distinct history, as we were an independent nation and we have a distinct identity with unique language and culture. We are also the largest population among the indigenous peoples of the Northeast Indian region and have been struggling for a separate state within the Indian Constitution for the last 44 years. We have all the terms and conditions for being granted a state. Despite all these, the Boro people have been repeatedly denied and deprived of their due rights. Therefore, we strongly feel that this is a gross historical injustice towards the Boro race”, lamented leaders of the organization, who are in ceasefire with the Government of India since 25th May, 2005.
On 1st August, 2011, the NDFB(P) president and the information and publicity secretary appealed to the Indian Tribal Member of Parliaments (ITMP)s to support and raise the issue of ‘separate state demand of Boroland’ in the monsoon session of the Indian Parliament. In the press release, which they sent via email, they mentioned, “As you are aware of the fact that the Boro tribe people, the sons of the soil of Eastern Indian State, Assam were once rulers of the entire North East region. We were a free and independent nation. But, gradually they lost our territory and freedom in due course due to partly external aggression and partly because of internal colonisation. The English annexed our kingdoms to our empire on the plea of flimsy reasons. It was actually responsibility on the part of the British Government to curve out a separate territory for our Boro people within the Indian dominion at the time of their (the British) departure from India since they had snatched many independent Boro territories and kingdoms.
But, unfortunately, we were waylaid empty handed, when the English had left India and they were forcibly shoved into Assam province to be dominated, neglected and ridiculed by the chauvinist Assamese clan. Thus, our Boro people were denied our historical and political rights and were conspired to remain a stateless people despite having a distinct history”.
Talking about the precedent for creating states, the militant organization’s press release noted, “After India became independent its states had been reorganized from time-to-time and new states were created to meet the demands of the people on the basis of language or ethnicity or geographical boundary and the Government of India showed utmost generosity in giving every linguistic community a share of territory and political rights for their self-rule. But, each time the ill-fated Boro clan people unlike other compatriots were seen to be intentionally kept at bay and denied their legitimate right to have a state despite having distinct territory, identity with unique language and culture of their own”.
The group compains that although the people of Boroland launched a vigorous effort over 22 years, in an attempt to gain statehood, the Government of India not only ignored their demads, but violently repressed and crushed the people. In 1971 and 1972, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh were both granted statehood and the people thought that Udayachal must surely be next.
The press release elaborates: “The Boro and other indigenous tribals became restive since the last part of the colonial rule to assert and strive for their political right. Our people launched a vigorous democratic movement with demand for a separate state Udayachal for the plain tribal of the eastern Indian State, Assam, in the year 1967. Our movement continued for long 22-years but the Indian Government did nothing to redress our demand. Instead our democratic and peaceful movement was repressed and crushed by violent means.
On the other hand, when our movement for Udayachal took momentum at that time another Eastern Indian States, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh were granted statehood unexpectedly in the year – 1971 and 1972 respectively. The tribal people of the state, Assam were very happy that since those states had been created without any coup or movement Udayachal was also at the door step. Sweat, blood and tears of the Boro people shed during the movement yielded no fruit and the dream of a separate state remained elusive for them.”
“However, the movement for ‘Boroland State’ was later on carried out by the Boro students’ organization – All Boro Students’ Union (ABSU) and the another Boro separatist group – Boro Liberation Tiger (BLT) during the period of 1987 to 2003. In between three new states (namely – Jharkhand, Chhatishgarh and Uttaranchal were created, which were perhaps India’s new millennial gifts to the downtrodden people of the Eastern, Central and Northern India.
Recently ‘Telengana State’ was declared at midnight on 9th December, 2009, to fulfill the Telengana people’s aspiration. Though, there are hindrances on the way the emergence of Telengana State is only a matter of time. Therefore, do we being the colonized Indians or the Indians of non-Indian origin aren’t worth to have such sympathy or compassion from the Indian government?” asked the president of NDFB(P), B. Sungthagra.
Understandably feeling ignored, the NDFB(P) says no Indian political leader ever tried to understand the people of Boroland, their feelings, their historical and political rights or their anguish over being statelessness.
“No Indian political leader had ever tried to understand our sentiments, our historical and political rights or our anguish and our pangs of being statelessness. Instead of statehood the Central Government of India was seen to be reluctantly consoling the Boro people by granting mere Boro Peace Accords, namely – Boroland Autonomous Council (BAC), 20th February, 1993, and other one Boroland Territorial Autonomous District Council (BTADC), 10th February, 2003. Its power and function as well as its economic workability are too meager to fulfill the hopes and aspiration of the Boro people. It has given only some economic package but not the political establishment for self-rule.”
S. Sanjarang, informationa and publicity secretary, NDFB(P)