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'Will Live in Unity in Our Land': ULFA-I Chief Paresh Baruah Welcomes Bodo Agreement

File photo of ULFA-I chief Paresh Baruah.

File photo of ULFA-I chief Paresh Baruah.

ULFA-I chief Paresh Baruah said the accord signed among the Centre, Assam government and Bodo groups was a welcome move and the state did not stand divided over it.

Guwahati: Amid a mass protest of non-Bodo communities in Lower Assam, especially in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) against the tripartite accord signed in the national capital, the United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent (ULFA-I) said the deal would do good for the region.

ULFA-I chief Paresh Baruah said the accord signed among the Centre, Assam government and four groups of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), the United Bodo People’s Organisation (UBPO) was a welcome move and the state did not stand divided over it.

Speaking to News18 from undisclosed location, Baruah said, “The Bodo agreement that was signed on Monday is good for the Bodo people. They have been struggling for their rights for decades. They have been losers since 500 years, but today they got some rights through the agreement. We welcome it heartily. Assam is not divided by this agreement. We will live in unity in our land.”

“The Bodo agreement will help the Bodo people protect their language, culture, history and political rights. They can save their land in their territory. The high-class Assamese society should learn from the Bodo people,” he added.

Meanwhile, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi criticised the Narendra Modi-led Union government for not taking other political parties into confidence before signing the agreement.

Gogoi said, “The Centre is being dictatorial by not discussing the issue with other political parties. Even the Assam government was not aware about the terms of the agreement. The chief minister (Sarbananda Sonowal) was invited at the last moment to sign the accord.”

“When we had signed the terms creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in 2003, we had invited all political parties for discussion. The present dispensation is arrogant in its conduct and this is not good democracy,” the senior Congress leader said.

Monday’s agreement was the third Bodo accord to be signed in 27 years. The first deal was signed with the ABSU in 1993, leading to the creation of the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) with limited political powers.

In 2003, the second accord was signed with the rebel group Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), leading to formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) comprising four districts of Assam — Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baska and Udalguri. The region is called Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).

According to Monday’s accord, the name of BTAD will be changed to Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and it will have more executive, administrative, legislative and financial powers.

At present, the BTC, formed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, has control over 30 subjects such as education, forests, horticulture, but no jurisdiction over police, revenue and general administration departments that come under the state government.