Bodoland demand: Five-day highway blockade from May 2


GUWAHATI, April 28: Three groups of Bodo students, surrendered militants and citizens have jointly called for a five-day national highway blockade in areas under the autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council, comprising four districts of the state, from May 2 in protest against the Centre not taking up their demand for a separate state yet.
Bodo groups have threatened to lay siege to national highways, including NH-31 on the northern banks of the Brahmaputra which enters the state through the Bodo heartland of Kokrajhar and serves as a lifeline for all of northeast.
The demand for a separate state for Bodos, which dates back to the 1960s, was raised with the Centre last year. Pramod Boro, president of the All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu), told TOI that the last meeting was held on April 26 last year with Union home minister Rajnath Singh in the chair. “In that meeting, the home minister had told us that our demand for a separate state is an old one, which everyone is aware of, and the Centre would certainly look into the feasibility of the demand. When we asked him how long he would have to wait, he had assured us that the talks would continue. But it has been a year since we sat down for discussions,” he added.
Absu, one of the protesting groups, has spearheaded the demand for a separate Bodoland since its formation in 1967. National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive) and the People’s Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement, along with Absu, have formed a Joint Movement Group to take the agitation ahead.
On Wednesday, thousands of members of the three groups tonsured their heads and wore black badges during a demonstration near the office of Kokrajhar deputy commissioner and submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the deputy commissioner demanding immediate creation of a separate Bodoland and to expedite the process of dialogue on Bodoland issue at the political level.
In November last year, the three organizations had sent a memoranda to the PM with their “blood signatures”, demanding some progress in the Bodoland talks.
The state has seen the bloodiest militancy in the Bodo heartland for than three decades over the demand of a separate state of Bodoland. Two peace accords with two different militant groups at different time have been signed so far ending in setting up of the present system of autonomy within the state, but the separate state demand continues to live on. (TNN)