[Polity] Assam Riots and Bodo Accord : History, Reasons, Problems, Solutions

Mrunalpolity30 Comments

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  1. What is Bodoland Territorial Council ?
  2. Timeline of Events
  3. How did the Kokrajhar riots start?
  4. Why situation out of control?
  5. Why resentment in the communities?
  6. What’s the problem in Bodo Accord?
  7. What is the solution?

What is Bodoland Territorial Council ?

  • 2003: Bodo militants lay down the arms and want to join mainstream. They sign agreement with Government, known as “Bodo Accord”.
  • A Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) was established under this Bodo Accord.
  • And Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) was created under the sixth schedule of the Constitution of India, as part of this accord to look after the Administrative and Development needs of these Bodo dominated areas.
  • Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) covers 4 districts of Assam:
  1. Kokrajhar,
  2. Baksa,
  3. Chirang and
  4. Udalguri. (Total 35% area of Assam.)
Timeline of Events
  • Bodos started demanding autonomy, varying from separate statehood to outright sovereign status.
1980s and 90s
  • militant Bodo movement peaked during this period
  • largescale killings and human displacement.
  • the signing of the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) Accord between
  • Militant Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) led by leadership of Hagrama Mohilary on one side .
  • And Centre and the state government on the other side.
  • Under this accord, Bodo Liberation Tigers surrerended their weapons, and Hagrama was made the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Bodo Territorial council. (BTC)

How did the Kokrajhar riots start?

  • Kokrajhar is a city in assam. [Name of its district is also Kokrajhar].
  • It is the HQ of Bodo Territorial Council.
  • Since past few months, The  minority student unions and non-Bodo tribes began demands for greater representation in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).
  • On July 6, two Muslim youths were shot at. Public suspected the Bodos.
  • Nearly a fortnight later, Someone murdered an ex-member of Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) and his 3 friends. Then riots started in retailiation.

Why situation out of control?

Main reason: Delay in Army Deployment: Bureaucratic Red Tape at its worst.

  • Section 130 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) empowers an executive magistrate [e.g. District collector, Deputy Collector, SDM] to seek army troops to contain riots.
  • But the request for army deployment to tackle riots has to be routed through the Defence Ministry.
  • The Kokrajhar district administration had requested for army deployment on July 20 and the army was deployed only on July 25 because the local army commanders did not accept the requests saying they need an order from the Ministry of Defence, after which Assam Chief Secretary had to approach Defence Secretary.
  • Otherwise, Army troops could have reached the trouble spots within three to four hours as two major army stations, including a full Mountain Division, are located within a distance of 150 kms from Kokrajhar.
  • Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had said that the army presence from day one would have prevented the “unprecedented crisis” and loss of so many lives.
  • At least 57 people were killed in the violence which rendered 5.02 lakh people homeless during the week-long mayhem.
  • Now, the Home Ministry has asked the Defence Ministry to amend its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) so that the army can be deployed the moment such a request comes from the civil administration.

Why resentment?

  • The Bodos, constitute the largest tribal community out of a total of 34 tribal communities in Assam.
  • They feel they have been neglected, exploited and discriminated against for decades, look at this accord as a historic opportunity to fulfil their longstanding demands
  • But due to the changing demographics of the BTAD and the consequent land alienation, they fear they may become a minority in their own state and in hitherto Bodo-dominated areas.
Non Bodos and Muslims
  • They resents the fact that Bodos constitute a meagre 25 per cent of the total population in the BTC area and believe that Bodos  should not be given the right to rule over the other three-fourths.
  • number of villages with minority Bodo population were included in the BTAD to make it a contiguous area.
  • The non-Bodos want such villages to be taken out of BTAD so that they do not feel insecure where they are clearly in the majority.

What’s the problem in Bodo Accord?

  • The Bodo Accord, seeks to protect the land rights of the indigenous Bodos while allowing settler Muslims (both legal and illegal) to freely acquire land at the same time.
  • The Bangladeshi migrants easily sneak in the area, illegally procure relevant documents like ration cards to establish Indian nationality.
  • Taking advantage of the provisions in the BTC Act, such migrants are freely procuring land in the BTAD, which only adds to the woes of indigenous Bodos.
  • Both sides are demanding the review / revocation of BTC act because on one hand, Bodos feel their rights are not protected and on the other hand, Non-bodos feel that Bodos are getting way too many benefits.

What is the solution?

Clashes between Bodos and Non-Bodos are nothing new in the Kokrajhar area.

Earlier 1993, 1994, 1996 and as recently as 2008, there have been large scale clashes.

Each of them, because of following three reasons:

  1. Population pressures
  2. land rights
  3. illegal migration and occupation
  • Unless and until Governments (both union and state), take proactive actions on those three problems, such incidents might keep recurring.
  • Some measures: National Population Register, Adhar / similar biometric cards.

My articles on [Polity] are archived at mrunal.org/polity

Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

30 Comments on “[Polity] Assam Riots and Bodo Accord : History, Reasons, Problems, Solutions”

  1. Dear Mrunal could u plz explain how migrants are freely procuring land in the BTAD ? how are they selling their own land to non bodos ?

    1. Given the 6th schedule of Constitution of India, the sale or transfer of tribal lands to non-tribals is prohibited, so even we (legit Indian Citizens) cannot buy land in those scheduled Bodo areas.
      But There is enough jungle and common village land where the illegal migrants settle down and get forged papers to show they’ve been there since ages.

  2. Thanks a ton mrunal sir..Hitherto i wondered why such kind of mayhem was occured between two communities which claims precious lives…Really helpful sir..

  3. I have joined this blog few days ago and go through it daily….nice handy information ..i was thinking to collect data on this topic for the last week…now i got it here in simplified and consolidated form…..thanks a lot sir !!!!!

  4. details regarding bodoland problem was quite informative and was given in a simple language

  5. mrunal correction, Bodoland territorial autonomous districts and Sixth schedule applies only for meghalaya,assam,manipur,mizoram(all four Northeast india states). Land rights are only inhertable not transfered to any person either it may be tribal or non-tribal.

  6. please provide a more detailed description of the plausible pragmatic measures to improve the ground situation, and the executive rights under the administrative machinery to avert or solve such communal retributions as these seem to be “only d beginning to a holocaust considering the demographic profile of our country and d religious sentiments”
    i dont see no possible solutions!!!

  7. You should have mentioned a more clear picture about illegal migrants. This gives a very skewed information about them which is not correct.
    You are doing a great job. I just mention this because, I feel bad when migrants are termed illegal by the whip of few words.

  8. Thks sir m new to your blog…. one doubt frm my side that if military was late than why they not use their police to control…why chief minister blame centre regarding the late military deploy though LAW and ORDER issue of state

  9. • But due to the changing demographics of the BTAD and the consequent land alienation, they fear they may become a minority in their own state and in hitherto Bodo-dominated areas.

    Ques: How bodos become a minority in their own state and in hitherto Bodo-dominated areas?…please answer

    1. As BTAD is within the territory of Assam…and though btad has certain autonomy ..it has no law n order..or police power ….and the major legislative n other power n funtions lies with the Assam govt…and the people who are non -tribal are occupying illegal land day by day in btad which is a protected area Under sixth schedulde .and even illegal migrants from bangladesh are taking shelter in the region…and so if these continues then tribal population will decrease into minority ..presently bodos constitutes aprox..35% of the total population of BTAD..

  10. Hi Muzammil, I think Mrunal is not writing anything against muslims, Illegal immigrant is the most dangerous problem that we are facing, it is from Bangladesh, Nepal and Mayanmar, not all are muslims… Our problem is not Muslim but Non -indians that come here and spread threats to everyone, whether he is muslim or Hindu or from any religion…
    India is so diverse that if you say anything it will go against many but we should not make quarrel out of it, but should reach to the bottom of that problem and solve it out.. our diversity is not our problem but it is our strenght..
    I hope u understand that… please dont afraid all this anti muslims feelings we both have suffered from it..

  11. ….
    In the late 1990s, Assam was beset by various ethnic riots between Bodos and Santhals. The Bodos began joining groups such as the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and the Bodo Liberation Tigers Force. In early 1996, over 100 Santal tribals were killed in riots.[2] In response, the Santals, claiming threats to their interests formed many groups with other Naga tribes in the area and the ACF was formed on 7 July 1996.[3]

    1. Correction ..Santals here in Assam are not given Tribal status but they are recongnised as tribal in jharkhand and they are still demanding ST statusIn assam till today .Actually santals were brought by british in Assam during pre colonial period to work in tea gardens of Assam from jharkhand and bodos are considered as the earliest inhabitants in the region (time immemorial) and considered as ST but due to demographic transformation occuring since pre colonial n post colonial period they have to struggle hard for their survival and still the issues has not been resolved till date .

  12. Hello Mrunal,
    I have gone through this article lately. I have noticed some basic mistakes here. May be, because you are unknown about the ground realities. As a person from Assam I would like to through a bit light on it. Firstly the area of BTAD is not 35% area of Assam. It’s approximately 11% (Total area of BTAD = 8795 sq km). Secondly the clash is not because of the illegal migrants, its more or less attributed to the authoritarian behavior of the Bodos by virtue of the Bodo Accord, who constitute a meager 25 to 30% of the population in the BTAD and hence the feeling of alienation among the non-Bodos including Bengali Speaking Muslims. We may take ref. here of the Bodo-Adivasi clash of 1996 and 1998 which rendered lakhs homeless and killed around 200 people. Bodo Accord of 2003 is in a sense responsible in this because it advocates the inclusion of Bodo majority villages in the BTAD, so some expert consider this is a way of driving out of non Bodos so that the Bodos become majority. Another cause of growing tension between the Bodos and non-Bodos is the inclusion of Bodo minority villages in the BTAD area which the villagers are vehemently opposing. According to the Bodo Accord of 2003, a village which have more than 50% of Bodo people can only be included in the BTAD, but by virtue of the murky politics of the political parties hundreds of non Bodo villages( even with zero Bodo population) had been included in the BTAD. Thirdly, I would like to add another point in the solution part. The satellite autonomy for the Bodos as recommended by the Bhupinder Singh Committee may be a wise solution.


    1. I think what you have written in the comment section seems to be like political debate rather than academic purpose and even when you come to political debate or issue the ground reality is not exactly like what you have revealed ..people will know only when they gathered authentic information…

  13. The real fact is not the percentage of the population.our demand is for the protection of tribal belt and blocks.Many people writes that boro population constitute merely 25 to 30 percent, but it doesn’t mean that our demand for bodaland is baseless.this land have been inhabitated by tribals form long period of time and how can nontribals justify it by showing the populations majority figure. Let me remain that Under Boro there are many sub tribes and govt. of Assam never recognise them as boro and for this reason pople think that we the Boros are minority in our own land.

  14. Bodo R 51% IN BTAD
    BODO is nt only single
    real meaning of Bodo(Boro,Rava,Garo,lulung,Meche,Limbu,kirati,kachari)etc.

  15. The main and realistic problem is the acquisition and migration of the non-Indian people nothing else and definitely it should never be concerned whats religions of they are.

  16. No one nor centre ,state will do anything for us . we ourself have to protect our land culture identity etc . these are laws of nature to suppress other race , people. Only the fittest survive . remember Darwin’s theory my brothers.

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