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Assam Constitutes Panel to Include Bodo Villages in BTR, Exclude Non-Bodo Settlements from Region

File Photo of Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

File Photo of Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The panel, headed by former chief secretary P P Verma, will decide after reviewing applications from villages bordering the four BTR districts for the inclusion of settlements with a majority Bodo population in the region and exclusion of those with a majority non-Bodo population from it, senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters.

The Assam government has constituted a four-member committee to include Bodo-majority villages in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and exclude non-Bodo settlements from it, as per the Bodo Accord signed on January 27, senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday. The panel, headed by former chief secretary P P Verma, will decide after reviewing applications from villages bordering the four BTR districts for the inclusion of settlements with a majority Bodo population in the region and exclusion of those with a majority non-Bodo population from it, the minister told reporters.

"It will also advise the government on increasing theexisting 40 seats in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) to60 in the BTR, besides reorganising the constituencies," hesaid. Apart from Verma, BTAD administrator Rajesh Prasad,Jayanta Basumatary of the All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU) and Dalim Gayan, representing the non-Bodos, are members of the committee, the minister said.

Governor Jagadish Mukhi had earlier approved for constituting the committee and renaming BTC as BTR, comprisingKokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri districts, Sarma said. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union home minister Amit Shah had recently held discussions on the speedy implementation of the Bodo Accord and steps are being taken to ensure all the clauses are implemented in a time-bound manner, he said.

The state government will initiate steps next month to implement Bodo as the associate official language of Assam and create the Bodo-Kachari Welfare Territorial Council for Bodosliving outside the BTR, the minister said. The Assam government and the Centre have also held discussions on the implementation of other clauses of the BodoAccord and those will be announced as and when the decisions are finalised, he said.

On elections to the BTC, which had to be deferred due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Sarma said the Health Department has made it clear that it is not safe to conduct the polls till November 30. The chief minister will soon call an all-party meeting to review the situation, he said.

"We are following the Bihar elections and a decision will be taken based on the Bihar experience," the minister said. The elections to the 40-member BTC, earlier scheduled to be held on April 4, was kept in abeyance due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the council is currently administered under the supervision of the governor, after its term ended on April27.

The elections to the council were being held after afresh Bodo Accord was signed in New Delhi on January 27 by shah, Sonowal, the then BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary and leaders of ABSU and all the four factions of the National DemocraticFront of Boroland (NDFB).


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