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