The Centre’s interlocutor for talks with Assam-based militant groups, AB Mathur, said the central government has not made promises to any group to constitute a Union Territory in Bodo-dominated areas in the state, PTI reported on Sunday. Mathur clarified the Centre’s stand after non-Bodo groups called for a shutdown on Monday against such a move.
The demand for Bodoland – a separate state carved out of Assam as a designated homeland for the Bodo tribe – is decades-old and was revived in 2017. The Bodos are the largest of Assam’s plains tribes. According to the 2001 census, they number just under 13 lakh and account for more than 5% of the state’s population.
“It is absolutely wrong. No promise has been given to anyone,” Mathur said when asked whether a Union Territory would be constituted for the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts in Assam. He also denied having a formal meeting with any delegation of the All Bodo Students’ Union.
Mathur said a few leaders of the All Bodo Students’ Union met him four days ago, but it was not a formal meeting. “I did not give any promise to them,” he said. “All news about the Union Territory is absolutely wrong.”
Director General (Special Branch) of the Assam Police Pallav Bhattacharjee said speculation over the Union Territory for the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts was wrong. “There is no question of giving any promise to any group on constitution of a Union Territory for the BTAD,” he said.
Organisations in the state, like Koch Rajbongshi Sanmilani, Aboro Suraksha Samiti, All Koch Rajbongshi Students Union, have called for an Assam Bandh on Monday in protest against constituting a Union territory in Bodo-dominated areas. The Assam Police issued a statement requesting organisations to withdraw the bandh, The Sentinel reported.
In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party promised to “take initiatives” to find a “permanent solution of the long pending issues of the Bodos”. But All Bodo Students’ Union president Pramod Bodo had said last year that the party had failed to keep its word.