Golden future awaits, says Amit Shah after Bodo Accord is signed

NEW DELHI: The government's peace accord with all the factions of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU) will ensure a "golden future" for Assam and the Bodo people, Union home minister Amit Shah said on Monday.

The agreement-expected to bring lasting peace to the Bodo-dominated areas in Assam-was signed by Assam's chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the top leadership of the four factions of the NDFB, ABSU, the home ministry's joint secretary Satyendra Garg and Assam's chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna in New Delhi.

"As the home minister, I want to assure all representatives that all promises will be fulfilled in a time-bound manner," Amit Shah said after the accord was signed.

The home minister also said that 1550 cadres will surrender along with 130 arms on January 30.

Several non-Bodo organisations have called a 12-hour general strike in Assam on Monday to protest the likely creation of a Union Territorial Council as part of the Centre's new peace accord with Bodo rebel outfits.

"The Bodo Accord shall reaffirm the territorial integrity of Assam and at the same time usher us into a new hope of peace and progress in Bodoland. My best wishes," Himanta Biswa Sarma had tweeted on Monday morning.

While Bodo groups have welcomed the deal, several non-Bodo organisations like All Koch Rajbongshi Students Union, All Bodo Minority Students Union, All Adivasi Students Union, Kalita Janagosthi Students Union etc have opposed the creation of a new UTC.

There are speculations that the deal might lead to the extension of the authority of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) beyond the four districts under Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD)-Chirang, Baksa, Kokrajhar and Udalguri-and include portions of Biswanath, Lakhimpur and Sonitpur districts.

On Monday, 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.

Monday's deal will be 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 first one signed with ABSU in 1993 led to the creation of Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC).

Ten years later, the second deal was signed with Bodo Liberation Tigers and led to the formation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which included Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri districts (collectively called BTAD).

The violent separatist movement has claimed hundreds of lives, injured many more and affected peace and development in Assam.

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PTI