North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Comprehensive Bodo Settlement AgreementPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Bodoland statehood issue


 

  • The MHA, the Assam government and the Bodo groups have signed an agreement to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) in Assam, currently spread over four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.
  • Several Bodo groups led have been demanding a separate land for the ethnic community since 1972, a movement that has claimed nearly 4,000 lives.

Background

  • The first Bodo accord was signed with the ABSU in 1993, leading to the creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with limited political powers.
  • The BTC was created in 2003 with some more financial and other powers.
  • The BTAD and other areas mentioned under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution have been exempted from the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

Highlights of the Agreement

  • As per the agreement, villages dominated by Bodos that were presently outside the BTAD would be included and those with non-Bodo population would be excluded.
  • Bodos living in the hills would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.
  • The BTAD is to be renamed as the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).

Rehabilitation and relief

  • The criminal cases registered against members of the NDFB factions for “non-heinous” crimes shall be withdrawn by the Assam government and in cases of heinous crimes it will be reviewed.
  • A Special Development Package of Rs. 1500 Crore would be given by the Centre to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.

A separate Commission

  • It proposes to set up a commission under Section 14 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution which will recommend the inclusion or exclusion of tribal population residing in villages adjoining BTAD areas.
  • In this commission, besides State government, there will be representatives from ABSU and BTC. It will submit its recommendation within six months.

Changes in Legislature

  • The total number of Assembly seats will go up to 60, from the existing 40.
  • The present settlement has a proposal to give more legislative, executive, administrative and financial powers to BTC.

Bodo as an official language

  • The Assam government will also notify Bodo language as an associate official language in the state and will set up a separate directorate for Bodo medium schools.
  • Bodo with Devnagri script would be the associate official language for the entire Assam.

Significance of the agreement

  • The signing of the agreement would “end the 50-year-old Bodo crisis.”
  • Around 1500 cadres of BODO militant factions will be rehabilitated by Centre and Assam Government.

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