Signatories of the Bodo peace agreement have called for inclusion of all stakeholders in the Bodo Territorial Council administration to ensure long lasting peace in the region, PTI reported on Tuesday. On January 27, nine Bodo groups signed an agreement with the Centre and the Assam government in New Delhi.

Since 1987, Bodo groups have fought, often violently, for a separate state called Bodoland to be carved out of Assam as a designated homeland for the community. The pact is the third such settlement with the Bodo groups. The first peace accord between the Assam government and moderate elements of the Bodo movement was signed in 1993 and paved the way for the formation of a Bodo Autonomous Council to allow for some degree of self-governance. The Bodoland Territorial Council covers the districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri in Assam. It came into existence in 2003 when the central and state governments signed the second peace accord with Bodo Liberation Tigers.

The signatories said a provision to absorb them into Bodo politics will bring a transformation of the Bodo Territorial Region as they have struggled for decades and understand the needs of the people. “It is we who fought for our [Bodo] people,” National Democratic Front of Bodoland President Gobinda Basumatary said. “The government needs to accommodate actual leaders like us in the Bodo administration as we know better what our people need.”

Basumatary added that despite two accords being signed before, powers have been centralised in the hands of a few who have been running the council since its creation. The elections to the 40-member Bodoland Territorial Council will be conducted on April 8.

Promod Boro, former President of All Bodo Students Union, said people will get better governance only if the new system is able to accommodate every stakeholder. “It is a trend and understanding of people that all the signatories of the accord should be in ruling of BTR in order to implement the clauses of accord and fulfil the commitment of leaders to the society,” Boro, who was credited with reviving the Bodoland statehood demand in 2015, told PTI.

“People are hopeful of better administration and development in the region after implementation of all the parameters of the third peace accord,” he added.

The “memorandum of settlement” signed, seen by, seeks to “augment area and powers” of the existing Bodoland Territorial Council and “streamline its functioning”. It also promises, among other things, to rehabilitate the cadres of the armed Bodo group, and promote and protect cultural identity and land of the Bodos. In addition, a financial package of Rs 1,500 crore to be released over the next three years.

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