At some point in life we all have or gone through dreams and fantasies, however, a distant reality it may be — but what do you do when you can’t achieve those dreams?
You are so excited. You have a dream that you must achieve. So you put all your energy and time into making this dream into a reality. However as times goes by, you are not near your mark. so your energy begins to drop, you are tempted to give up.
Your passion is waning but you push yourself to continue; second by second; hour by hour; day by day; year by year till one day, you can’t take it any more. You become disappointed because you can’t achieve your dreams. So what do you do? What’s the next step? You have come to a point that you hate what you are doing? You are not sure if you want this dream turned in to practicality or you just had a wrong dream?
The above extract is not much of the difference with bodoland demand, today. A demand for separate identity for the bodos dates back to as early as 1930s, when Bodo delegations met with the Simon Commission demanding an entity separate from the Assamese mainstream. For nearly 100 years has gone by since then, and today we are still trying to achieve those dream with depleted vigor and energy — significantly decreasing each passing day. Today we have reach to the point where people is starting to believe that we just had a wrong dream and that it will not be fulfilled in a decades to come. For now, majority of bodos just want peace, infrastructure and some money.
The dream, for which thousands of bodos lost their lives, people forced to leave their homes, body shaming for being an unintelligent tribe, women raped by security personnel, innocents killed in false encounters and an unending misery follows. A common dream that was once dreamt by over million bodos are just starting to look increasingly doubtful and or perhaps even withers away in a decades to come.
Though many has stopped hoping for bodoland state anytime soon but there are many who still believe ‘BODOLAND’ is coming pretty soon. For example: A few months before, I walked up to my cousin brother, who is in his early 30s — and inquired whether he is getting married anytime soon. Interestingly, he had some interesting responses — saying he wants to get married only when the Bodoland state comes home. It was a silly joke but I really like his passion & enthusiasm. He apparently believes that bodoland state is still around the corner, and there is nothing harm in his beliefs. Everyone has their own perception and understanding of things but the current stage of movement for statehood demand looks no definite future, otherwise.
Even after such a long struggle and amid where the couples of states are already being created (Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telengana etc) right in front of the demand — why was Bodoland demand not being considered by the Govt? Why it never worked out in spite of so much bloodshed and publicity? Lets discuss a bit about it.
What went wrong with the Bodoland demand?
If one go through the entire history of bodoland movement carefully — there is a huge inconsistency in our demands. The way we approached towards our demand, and the way different self styled leaders tried to attend the goal in their own — is not only confusing ourselves but also unsure of whether we actually wanted Bodoland that will serve the bodos or something else. Lack of definite purpose among our leaders, ego clash among the leaders and interference of external factors (such as state govt.) — are some of the reasons why we still stand at uncertain future. Lets see our history of movement briefly.
Lets break-up this history in to 3 phases for better understanding:
For the first time in the history of bodoland movement in 1966, the PTCA launched a militant agitation for a separate tribal and indigenous Scheduled Caste communities state called ‘Udayachal’ under the leadership of Samar Brahma Chowdhury and Charan Narzary, President and General Secretary of PTCA respectively. In the subsequent years, Govt agreed to provide Autonomous council to Udayachal statehood demand but PTCA rejected the proposal. By then conflict already started among the leaders due to their ideological differences where some leaders wanted to resort to violence for unresponsive attitude of the govt — and subsequently some section of the group broke away from the mainstream to opt for an arms struggle. At this point, PTCA already broke out morally.
In the mean time, ABSU founded just less than a year later after the PTCA — was emerging with a political aspiration to move for Bodoland statehood rejecting the PTCA’s Udayachal statehood demand. The President and some leaders of PTCA were assassinated by some group of the ABSU. In succeeding years, ABSU accepted the autonomous council which PTCA rejected the offer earlier — and eventually PTCA disappeared from the scene.
Remarks: The very purpose of PTCA was right and logical enough to get the demand at that time. But within a year they broke out and the very purpose of it’s formation is done and dusted. ABSU, with it’s over ambitious attitude refused to join PTCA and literally killed them. The question remains — Why did ABSU didn’t like the idea of PTCA that pertains to get statehood for every tribes in the region? It was obviously logical enough that bodos do not have enough numbers themselves to justify statehood demand. Even today, we are facing the same problem. Beside this, why did ABSU accept the council offer that same was rejected by PTCA?
At this stage, PTCA era is gone and the new front emerges. Lets call this phase ABSU-BPAC – NDFB (formerly know as Bodo security force). After more than half a decade since 1986 (When NDFB was formed) of silent movement, in 1993 ABSU-BPAC signed a bodo accord to contain with Autonomous council. Following this, Bodo security force has been renamed as NDFB. Then came one of the worst form of movement in the history of statehood demand in India. Two organization that was formed to attain bodoland for the bodos are now busy in killing each other. With the formation of BLTF — after 1996, the two groups (NDFB & BLTF) clashed violently for supremacy. BLTF allied with Bengali Tiger Force to protect Bengalis from NDFB attacks, and also supported Indian security forces against NDFB. The conflicts between NDFB and BLTF polarised the Bodoland movement along religious lines with some believing NDFB is for Christians and BLTF is for Hindus, which was very unfortunate. In 2003, BLTF surrendered en masse in return for the establishment of the Bodoland Territorial Council.
Remarks: If bodoland statehood was the main motive of ABSU’s movement, why did they always compromised Autonomous council against statehood? Why didn’t they just stuck to the statehood demand unless demands are met? There is absolutely no sincerity against statehood demand. It looks more or less like a demand for economic packages. If economic packages demand was our main motive behind the movement then we wouldn’t have had suffered that much or for that long without any consequences.
This phase can be attributed to post BTC accord in 2003 up till the present day. This phase is marked by polarization, killings, surrenders — the end of NDFB hegemony while negotiating with govt for some economy packages. As you see, all that starts with noble intention ends up with money. Meanwhile, BLTF found itself in BTC and they have totally nullified the statehood demand. They no longer need bodoland. As some ministers could be heard saying: “We are building infrastructure. If we have a state that is well-developed, the cries for a separate Bodoland will cease. The reason for demanding Bodoland was and is a lack of development. What will be the meaning of Bodoland if one’s needs are fulfilled?”
Well, still on the other hand, ABSU is left alone like an orphan child trying to collect some coins for his stomach with occasional rail rokho campaign.
Remarks: If the main motive of NDFB was to fight for bodoland state in unison, why did they splintered themselves in to so many factions with self styled leaders trying to negotiate with the govt for economic packages?
As we can see from the above discussion that we are totally directionless in our demands. So many teams, so many different ideologies, so many different approach — for a single common goal. Due to this multiple teams and multiple goals and objectives “Bodoland as a STATE” didn’t come true and doesn’t look like it’s feasible in near future, either.
Our leaders are (or were) never really sure whether we were fighting for statehood to protect our identity or some money & infrastructure. For most of the time we never really looked like we wanted statehood to protect our identity — for which ABSU has always compromised for council with some money packages. This gave enough reasons for the top political leaders at the center to fool it’s people or prolong the statehood demand. Therefore, we can rightly say — bodoland movement were never made with definite purpose and in right spirit for statehood cause. All along the way, whenever we tried to walk through; we lost somewhere else. If PTCA’s ideals were to be implemented and there were no division of factions amidst — who knows, today we might have been living in a completely different new state. But that’s all for saying. History is already written; lets move forward.
What now — bodoland dream will never fulfill?
Creation of new state is highly political in nature. Bureaucratic level business doesn’t hold any object here. It’s the political leaders of the ruling govt at the center who can take the decision of creating a new state. If central govt is willing to create a new state then state assembly or govt has no power to prevent it from happening. That one is guaranteed in Article 3 of the Constitution. Though it’s also very important to get positive opinion from the state govt for smooth transition of the business.
Bodos lost out the opportunity to get new state during Pre 2000. PTCA was the right party to get it for the people but they failed and we still failed, today. Before 2000, there were not many communities who were demanding separate state. May be just few communities were demanding that time. But today, there are over 50 communities and regions who are simultaneously demanding separate state which is impossible for the center to implement. Even if center decides to create bodoland state without taking along the other party’s demand like Gorkhaland, tripraland, kamatapur, karbi land etc. then those places will burn — but no political party will ever take this risk. Above all, representative of single MP from bodoland hardly matters to any political parties in the country. Congress took the risk of creating new Telengana state because they have size able MPs representing the region and also Telengana was already different state before their merger with Andhra Pradesh in 1956.
UPDATED WRITING AFTER BTR ACCORD
27th January, 2020 3rd Bodoland Accord: Once again Bodoland statehood demand were not granted and has to content with small changes to existing BTC accord. There is nothing substantial about this accord once again, though few changes were made but that’s far from aspiration of Bodo people who always believed in self rule and identity protection.
Thereby, bodoland state may be fulfilled only when the ruling party in the center decides to bifurcate large states and redistribute power for economic & administration benefits. There is a possibility in the future that large states like UP, MP, Gujarat, Maharashtra etc be divided in to some parts for better economic & infrastructural penetration. In such situation, bodoland will be included in the list because of it’s age old demand. Until then we just got to continue our demand along with seeking more economic packages for development of the region.
But also keep in mind, Modi, on his Kokrajhar visit on 08-02-2020 has clarified that Bodo’s aspirations has been fulfilled for end of times. Therefore, there will be no question of separate bodoland state as long as BJP is in power or as long as there is no new party among the community who will spring up to make a new demand. Even if that has to happen, there will be no bodoland state in several decades to come or perhaps until the end of times.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own personal views and without intention of hurting any political party, organization or community groups.