The Bodo Accord
This Blog is written by Kaviya Kannan from Kasturba Gandhi Degree College, Osmania University. Edited by Lisa Coutinho.
When the Bodos called for a separate state in the late 1960s, little did they know that this complication was going to last for over 50 years. Previously, their movement for a separate homeland began in the 1930s under the British rule, but it was only in the 1960s that they began to organize themselves. Most of the north-east is predominantly occupied by the tribal population. The history of the Bodos roots back to the Boro-Khacharis of Assam who belong to the branch of the Great Bodo Group of Indo-Mongoloid family falling within the Assam-Burmese linguistic section. In present-day socio-political terminology, ‘Bodo’ means the plain tribes of the Brahmaputra Valley, earlier known as the Bodo-Kachari. The term ‘Kachari’ is a generic term for a number of groups speaking a more or less common dialect or language and claiming a common mythical ancestry. Others are regarded as the Kachari, aborigines, or the earliest known inhabitants of the Brahmaputra valley, i.e. the whole of the modern Assam, North Bengal and parts of Bangladesh. Bodoland, situated in the Western Assam, comprises of 3.16 million Bodos, which accounts for almost 6% of the population in Assam (2011 census). Several factors such as regionalism, protection of their language, culture, land and political identity led to the demand for a separate state. 
The inception to demand for a separate statehood began as the Bodos felt their identity was at stake. The movement began to gain significance mainly due to three reasons-
Political: The spread of education among the Bodos, especially among the youth raised political consciousness among them. When the Bodos understood that the policies of the central and the state governments in the Northeast were ineffective, particularly in western Assam, it drove the Bodo movement further.
Economy: Land is the main income source of the Bodo economy, as 90% of the Bodos and other tribal people depend upon agriculture for their livelihood. Almost 70% of them are landless today due to indebtedness, poverty, and above all, the entry of outsiders into essentially tribal areas. Unemployment is a major problem confronting the ethnic and tribal people, and only 10% of the jobs are reserved for plain tribal, including the Bodos. Besides, the statutory requirement of knowledge of the Assamese language to obtain a government job in the state is a further barrier to employment opportunities for Bodo youth.
Identity and Language: The urge to preserve the Bodo identity and language has been another main reason behind the Bodo movement. The fear of losing their unique identity, culture and tradition was another significant cause of the Bodo unrest. 
IMPACT AND OUTCOME OF THE MOVEMENT
The Bodo movement was launched in 1987, by the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), demanding for a separate state to be called Bodoland. When ABSU along with other groups such as Bodo’s People Action Committee (BPAC) engaged in violent outbursts against the police in 1989, the then Chief Minister had to call in the army and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to control the situation. Consequently, the first-ever tripartite talk between the Central Government, State Government and the leaders of ABSU-BPAC was held on 28th August, 1989 in New Delhi. The talks continued and ultimately after several rounds of tripartite talks; the famous Bodo Accord was signed between the Central Government, State Government and ABSU-BPAC on 20th February, 1993. The Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC), a body of self-rule for the Bodos on the northern banks of the Brahmaputra was created under the act of the Government of Assam.
As the government failed to implement the provisions of the Bodo Accord, the activists of ABSU relaunched the movement in 1996. Although there was an ideological difference between Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), both of them were very active in the tribal-dominated area of Assam since 1996. Both the extremist groups were often involved in violence, causing tumult even in neighboring countries like Bhutan and Myanmar. In July 1999, the BLT leaders made a declaration of ceasefire for a period of one year. A series of talks to ease the tension in the tribal areas began in the year 2000 between governments and the extremist group. 
The talk between the Central government, government of Assam and the BLT continued, and ultimately on 10th February 2003, the famous Bodo Accord was signed in New Delhi between the Centre, State and the BLT. The new Bodo Accord was signed by Chairman of BLT, Hagrama Mohilary, on behalf of BLT. A new self-governing body, called Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), was added to the provision of Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India, in BTAD, Assam. The BTC was entrusted with 40 subjects full of executive and legislative powers. The Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), was delimited into 40 constituencies. Out of 40, 30 seats were reserved for the ST, five seats were reserved for open candidates, and five seats were reserved for the general category. The Governor has the power to nominate six members from among the unrepresented communities, out of which two are women members.
POST-2003-ACCORD SCENARIO: A BRIEF TIMELINE
In January 2004, members of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) attacked an Indian Army patrol, and three militants died in the attack. In October, the NDFB and United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) killed at least 70 people. In the same month, the NDFB announced a unilateral ceasefire. In May, 2005 government officials and the NDFB signed a ceasefire agreement, and the Bodo Territorial Council held its first elections in which there were reports of vote-rigging and irregularities. Minor violent clashes between the extremists and government took place throughout the decade. 
In 2012, Bengali-speaking Muslims and Bodos in Bodoland Territorial Area got involved in ethnic riots, killing nearly 100 people, leaving at least four lakhs homeless. The main reason behind the violence was illegal immigration into Assam which the tribal believed to be a threat to their existence, economy, land and livelihood.
Both in May and December 2014 attacks were allegedly carried out by NDFB, where around 100 people were killed and two lakh people were homeless. After the December incident, the Centre launched an Operation All Out; a large-scale military operation involving the Army, the Air Force, Assam state police and paramilitary forces, with an aim to eliminate NDFB in order to maintain peace in the state.
In August, 2016 fourteen civilians were killed in Kokrajhar district by terrorists. The NDFB were suspected to be behind the attack. In 2017, the president of the ABSU, Promod Boro said in a press meet that the movement group shall take action against the government, after discussing the status of the group at Bodofa House, Baganshali in Kokrajhar, as the NDA government had been giving apathetic response towards the Bodoland issue even after promising a resolution prior to the 2014 parliamentary election.
THE NEW AND THIRD BODO ACCORD
As of January 2020, the ABSU and NDFB continued the movement with violence. After several rounds of talks and negotiations in New Delhi, the ABSU and NDFB have signed the new and third Bodo accord. Now, as the new accord, there are going to be 60 members in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTC). The NDFB caucus, which is being led by Ranjan Daimari, Govinda Basumatary, Dhiren Boro and Saoraigra signed the agreement alongside with ABSU president Pramod Boro, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohilary and Assam’s chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna. The tripartite agreement is meant to fulfil all the key political and economic demands of Bodoland. The centre will also set up a monitoring committee for implementation of the provisions of the accord. Home Minister Amit Shah said that a total of 1550 NDFB cadres along with 130 weapons will surrender in a ceremony on January 30, 2020. The centre has announced an economic package of Rs 1500 crores with equal contribution of Rs 750 crore each from the central and state governments which shall be implemented in the next three years. Besides, the central government will assure the Bodo groups to safeguard the language and culture of Bodoland. Bodo language will now be an associate official language with Devanagari script in the state of Assam.
2020 ACCORD: KEY POINTS
• The number of seats in BTAD will be increased from 40 to 60
• A central university and RIIMS in Udalguri, a National Sports University, a Central University at Barama in the name of Upendra Nath Brahma to be set up
• Special industrial policy for BTAD
• Railway coach factory to be set up in BTAD area
• Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre to be set up at Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri
• Autonomous Welfare Council for the Bodo people living outside BTAD areas
• A veterinary college at Kumari kata and a Cancer Hospital and Medical College in Tamulpur to be set up
• Central Government to expedite the process of granting Hills tribe status to Bodos living in Hills areas 
PROVISIONS OF LEGISLATURE
The Bodoland Autonomous Council Act, 1993, provides for the establishment of an administrative authority in the name of “Bodoland Autonomous Council” and for certain matters incidental thereto and connected therewith.
The objectives of the agreement is to create an autonomous self-governing body to be known as Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) within the State of Assam and to provide constitutional protection under Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution to the said Autonomous Body; to fulfil economic, educational and linguistic objectives, and to preserve land-rights, socio-cultural and ethnic identity of the Bodos; and speed up the infrastructural development activities in BTC area.
Provisions were added in para 6 of Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution that in BTC area, language and medium of instruction in educational institutions will not be changed without the approval of the state government.
Provision of para 8 of Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution regarding power to assess and collect land revenue and impose taxes shall be applicable to the BTC.
Provision of Article 332(6) of the Indian Constitution will be modified so that the existing status of representation of BTC area in the State Assembly is kept intact. After the creation of BTC, the Parliamentary & Assembly Constituencies shall be delimited by the Delimitation Commission in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. 
Benefits from the various developmental programmes being launched by the Union and State Governments as part of poverty alleviation and also economic development is one of the main reasons why peace accords are being signed. They are also signed in order to end all conflicts and maintain peace and order across the region. In the last four decades, several attempts have been made by the central and state government to put an end to all the conflicts of the extremist groups in the north-east. Although two peace accords were signed in 1993 and 2003, the violent clashes between the government and the extremist groups continued to rage on. This was mainly because the Bodos claim the government has failed to implement developmental projects and has been giving a lukewarm response to them. Apart from this, there has been no significant development in this region which further aggravated the Bodo movement. The new and third Bodo Accord has given the Bodos some promising developmental aspects for their region as mentioned above, but only time will tell if all the aspects of the accord are fulfilled or not.
In the modern era, good and equal governance is given utmost importance in the political sphere. Developing countries, in particular, are under constant pressure for not emphasizing good governance in rural and tribal areas. In India, not much importance was to the North East. Most of the states in the north-eastern part of India has been experiencing difficulties due to ethnic conflicts and violence among several tribes. The conflicts in the region have led to a high degree of extremist activities and multiplicity of extremist groups. Different groups claim that they are engaged in their fight for recognition, political and economic rights and sometimes for independence. Hence, peace accords are signed to put an end to violent clashes as well as to focus upon developmental activities. The successful tackling of these challenges as well as ensuring the economic growth and development in the north-east requires a multifaceted approach by the central and state government wherein strong and effective policies must be implemented in order to gain the trust of the people ultimately achieving coherence with the ethnic groups.
 Introduction of the Bodos, Chapter 2. Retrieved from https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/195829/9/09_chapter%202.pdf
 Urkhao Gwra Bramha, (2003) What aggravates the Bodo crisis? Retrieved from https://www.telegraphindia.com/north-east/what-aggravates-the-bodo-crisis/cid/1542564
 Minorites at Risk Project, Chronology for Bodos in India, (2004). Retrieved from https://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3896c.html
 Chronology for Bodos in India. Retrieved from http://www.mar.umd.edu/chronology.asp?groupId=75016
 Bodo Peace Accord 2020: A look at timeline of major events in long standing conflict in Assam, (2020). Retrieved from https://www.firstpost.com/india/bodo-peace-accord-2020-a-look-at-timeline-of-major-events-in-long-standing-conflict-in-assam-7967881.html
 The Bodoland Autonomous Council Act, 1993. Retrieved from https://ucdpged.uu.se/peaceagreements/fulltext/India%2019930220.pdf