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Bodo Accord: From Chaos To Peace

It has been stated by many scholars and eminent persons that a long fight, struggle and problems are hidden behind every success or every good thing that happens[1] and so is the case with the Bodo Accord. It all began with the Assam movement that was initiated by the All Assam Students’ union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) in 1979 and ended only when the Government of India came into an understanding with the leaders of AASU and AAGSP.

A lot of ruckus was being created when the people decided to start the movement and it was basically aimed towards the elimination or deletion of the names of illegal migrants (mostly Bangladeshi) from the voter’s list or electoral rolls and also to protect their homeland from the foreign national so that only the people of the state can use the resources of their state without any interference from others.

Background
Bodo Accord being considered as one such agreement which has brought peace in Assam out of all the chaos that was created previously. So, Bodo Accord- the agreement which was made in the name of Bodos, is said to be the largest community[2] representing scheduled Tribes in Assam and they were the ones who were instrumental in getting this Bodo Accord from the Assam Accord, which was negotiated by the government and the leaders of the various bodies because it was actually focusing more to the interest of the Assamese speaking community and from then they started clamoring to make an accord which will provide them protection and give them autonomy for economical, educational, social and cultural advancement. The first Bodo Accord that was signed was with the ABSU in 1993 and through this Bodoland Autonomous council (BAC) was created[3].

The second Bodo Accord was signed in 2003 by the Bodo Liberation Tiger Force (BLTF)[4], the centre and the state and that led to the creation of BTC. In 2020 Accord the BTAD renamed to BTR (Bodoland Territorial region)[5].

The objective of the Bodo Accord was to provide some sort of special privilege to the Bodos (particularly tribes of Assam) in the matters relating to finance, Trade and commerce, official language, employment opportunities, etc. so that their cultural values and tradition cannot be harmed by others and that is why this accord was essential in those times of 1985 when it was made, because of the immense influx of migrants from other countries especially Bangladesh as it has adjacent boundaries with Assam.[6]

A series of measures was adopted by the then government to remove the illegal immigrants from the state of Assam and National Register of Citizens (NRC) was amongst one of them which is still continuing and has not reached its stage of completion yet. In May 2005 a meeting was held between the Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, Assam government and AASU where it was decided that an exercise will be conducted to remove the illegal immigrants and the promises made in the Assam Accord will be fulfilled[7].

Later in July 2009 an NGO moved the apex court regarding the removal of those names from the voter’s list that has not been documented, but this request actually came for hearing in August 2013 and then the Supreme Court directed to update the NRC process. However, the process began in February 2015. After which the first list was published on 31st December 2017 and the final list was released on 31st August 2019 where 1.9 million illegal immigrants were identified[8].

Impact of CAA and NRC on Bodo Accord

Chaos has now started prevailing again in the state of Assam as it used to be at the time when the people were agitating for the Assam and Bodo accord and for the removal of illegal immigrants, but this time the clamor has started because people are not content with the recent law which has been passed by the government, as in their view it is in direct violation of the clause 6 of the Assam accord which says that whatever be the constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards as may be appropriate shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.

In this clause 6[9] of the Assam Accord it is also written that whoever came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971 they shall be deleted and detected as foreigners and will be in accordance with the provisions of Foreigners Act 1946[10]. But the recent citizenship Amendment bill has extended the cut- off date from 1951 to 2014 and that can be taken as the prime reason behind the vociferous mob of Assam and why they are continuously agitating against this move and also said that it is the state where people from all walks of life are protesting against the citizenship amendment act only because they think that it is violating their Assam accord. Even though the centre is continuously being saying that the new legislation will not tinker with the clause VI.[11]

Conclusion
So, by noting the critical situation of Assam, it can be seen that the recent citizenship amendment act passed by the government is somewhere or the other detrimental for the people of Assam and to their culture and traditional belief and custom that they hold, in the manner that more and more immigrant will come now than before because of the extension of the cutoff date and if more immigrant will come then they might not have a correct say in the election as they will get the voting rights once they get the citizenship and ultimately the administration of the state might get affected and for this reason only agitation happened in the times of 1985[12

As people of Assam do not want the immigrants to get the voting rights and this issue gets even more vital for the people of the tribe of Assam, particularly Bodos because they now fear that if more immigrant will come, they might try to hamper with their custom and belief and in addition there might be a huge change in the demography of Assam as well, even though there has been a constant reiteration from the government that the Brahmaputra valley will be exempted from CAA.

 Coming to the situation of NRC many people are asserting[13] that their names did not appear in the list even though they were actually the resident of the state, but because of the paucity of documents they could not prove it as some document were related to their ancestors which could not be traced now.


However, in the present scenario taking the critical condition of Assam, NRC perhaps would not be possible to achieve because of the reasons like International Repatriation laws with Bangladesh and with UN and if the government tries to take any forceful measures, then there will be more Nellie and khoirabari[14] like massacres which will have serious repercussions on the state as well on the government if such sort of situations occur. So, whatever measures that the government will take should be very well thought of.

What makes  the protest in the northeast, particularly Assam from the other states is the purpose for which they are being held as in Assam the situation is more critical and tense because firstly they have adjacent boundaries with other countries like Bangladesh, so number of chances of influx ae there and secondly, there is a  widespread fear among the people of northeast that even their lands might also be encroached by the immigrants in addition to the problems of harm to the culture and tradition by the immigrants and this is why it is constantly being reiterated by the people of Assam that the citizenship amendment act and the process of NRC is violating the Assam Accord or Bodo Accord.

End-Notes:
  1. Helen Keller, The Story of my life, Garden city, New York: Doubleday & company, Inc., p. 101
  2. Available at: https://www.economist.com/asia/2008/10/09/bodo-count ( accessed on 10.026.2020)
  3. Dr. Vikram Singh Amarawat, Bodoland Movement, 10.13140/RG.2.1.3254.8249, 59, 2016
  4. Available at https://www.jagranjosh.com/current-affairs/govt-signs-historic-bodo-accord-2020-with-ndfb-factions-and-absu-all-you-need-to-know-1580121685-1 (accessed on 10.06.2020)
  5. Available at https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/accord-drives-divide-in-assams-bodo-domain/article30835925.ece (accessed on 10.06.2020)
  6. Available at https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=10919 (accessed on 10.06.2020)
  7. Available at https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/north-east/northeast-diary-29-04-2005/cid/1616278 (accessed on 10.06.2020)
  8. Available at https://www.northeasttoday.in/a-brief-history-of-assam-assam-movement-assam-accord-and-the-implementation-of-nrc-caa/ (accessed on 10.06.2020)
  9. Available at https://assamaccord.assam.gov.in/portlets/assam-accord-and-its-clauses (accessed on 10.06.2020)
  10. Available at https://www.indiatoday.in/news-analysis/story/what-is-assam-accord-of-1985-and-how-amended-citizenship-law-challenges-it-1627965-2019-12-13 (accessed on 10.06.2020)
  11. Available at https://assamaccord.assam.gov.in/portlets/assam-accord-and-its-clauses (accessed on 10.06.2020)
  12. Available at https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/33043/11/11_chapter%201.pdf (accessed on 10.06.2020)
  13. Available at http://nrcassam.nic.in/ (accessed on 10.062020)
  14. Available at https://theprint.in/india/governance/nellie-massacre-and-citizenship-when-1800-muslims-were-killed-in-assam-in-just-6-hours/193694/ (accessed on 10.06.2020)
Written by: Ved Prakash of Amity Uiversity Patna pursing BBA LL.B (Hons.) 2019-2024  

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