Days after the signing of historic Bodo Accord 2020, questions have been raised on whether this Accord would bring everlasting peace in the insurgency prone region.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Upamanyu Hazarika on Wednesday said the third Bodo Accord signed in three decades fulfilling the aspirations of a major ethnic community is welcome, particularly those who have borne the brunt of Bangladeshi aggression.
“However the Accord will create more problems than resolving the issues of non-Bodo indigenous communities in the BTAD area, who have not been even consulted in an Accord which impacts them,” said Hazarika.
“Once again chief minister Sonowal and his government have participated in widening the rift between indigenous communities and further worsening the status of non-Bodo indigenous communities in BTAD, who had earlier become second class citizens under the 2003 Accord,” he alleged.
Also read: Assam: Bodo accord evokes mixed reactions
The Bodos by virtue of Scheduled Tribe status enjoy more privileges compared to other communities.
“The BTC created virtually for only Bodos’ welfare has in its working over the last 17 years created a strong sense of discrimination amongst the other indigenous communities in BTAD areas,” he said.
He said rather than enhancing the powers of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), the need was to review the working of the Council established in 2003.
Hazarika said the experience in BTAD has been that “the indigenous non-Bodo population have been reduced to second class citizens after the establishment of this Council, by reserving 25 out of the 40 seats in the Council for Bodos who comprise only 27 per cent of the BTAD population”.
The BTC Executive Council has only two non-tribal members out of 14.
“The indigenous non-tribal population is effectively deprived of any participation in the administration of their own affairs and to give them equal rights is the need of the times,” he said.
Out of 525 ethnic communities in India, 115 alone are in Assam.
“Any policy aimed at advancement of any one community is bound to have implications for the co-existing ones and which is today the case with BTAD areas,” he said.
He said the Bodos today are one of the most advanced communities in the Northeast whether in terms of representation in government, excellence in sports and having assumed leadership in their area of origin.
It was necessary to have ensured the well-being of the Bodos’ neighbouring indigenous brethren, he said.
“The alienation of the non-Bodo indigenous community is reflected in the growth of a political narrative around Bodos and non-Bodos, reflected in the election of Naba Sarania.”
“Whether it be the Chief Minister Sonowal or the Bodo leadership, they need to learn from Chaolung Sukapha, the founder of the longest reigning dynasty in the world, it is by amalgamating all the indigenous communities into one common identity and all of them finding a place in the governance of the Ahom kingdom that it was able to rule for so long,” he said.