By- Partha Prawal Goswami
Putting an end to the 32 years of armed struggle, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has finally decided to come to the discussion tables with the Government of India (GoI). This decision of the ULFA is not a result of one day process, but years of negotiation and a tactful conflict resolution mechanism adopted by the Government. The demands of ULFA that it proposes during the peace process will be of utmost importance. The outcome of these talks would also hold much importance and will be closely watched by other rebel groups of the state who were formed on the similar thought lines of ULFA. The one group though which will have a hawk eye look on these talks, is the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the big question now before of the leaders of NDFB is how will the centre react to their demands? Will the centre show same attitude towards them or will they be totally crushed under the government shoe?
Formed as Boro Security Force (BSF) on October 3, 1986, in Odla Khasibari village close to Udalguri, under the leadership of Ransaigra Nabla Daimary alias Ranjan Daimary the main goals included
- Separate itself from the expansionism and occupation of India
- Free Bodoland from the exploitation, oppression, and domination by colonialists
- Uphold the integrity of a sovereign Bodoland
- Set up a Democratic Socialist Society that promoted Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity
- Change the written language to Roman
- Take part indirectly or directly in the elections in the lower house of parliament
Looking at the present scenario, the group’s fate seems to hanging by the dagger as the main demand for a separate Bodoland seems highly illogical. Not many years ago, the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), a parallel organization of NDFB, was given as autonomous council for the Bodos under the leadership of BLT Chief Hagrama Mohilary. Named as Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), the autonomous council has been enjoying the rights of an almost independent state; thus, the aspirations of Bodo people that of a separate Bodoland have been almost fulfilled. Moreover major groups like the BLT, Bodoland People’s Forum (BPF) who came into existence with the demand for a separate Bodoland are now an integral part of the present State Government. So one thing is for sure that BLT and BPF will never join hands with NDFB on its demand for a separate Bodoland. NDFB too now finds itself divided itself into two sects, the pro talk section being named as NDFB (P). Seeking a political solution to their almost three decade long problem, members of NDFB (P) recently sat for talks with P C Haldar, who is the government interlocutor with ULFA and NDFB. After the meeting, the rebel leaders said talks were satisfactory, raising hope that they would place their demands before the Centre to ensure lasting peace and development in the region and B Bodosa, assistant publicity secretary of NDFB (P) said that they have presented a separate map of Bodoland which stretches from Sadia to Dhubri.
Big question though is, will they be supported by their own men? Are the Bodo people ready for another era of bloodbath, if the demand for separate Bodoland is not met, when they have the luxury of BTAD? NDFB being the parent organization of the struggle for a separate Bodoland, today finds itself almost isolated; isolated even from its own people. So what would be the fate of NDFB and the other organization that are fighting for similar causes i.e. separate statehood for them? The answer is simple, a big no from the Government of India. Reasons for this no is again simpler, not weaken further the democratic system of India. If the Government keeps on granting statehood to every other organization, the democratic system weakens further as there will be more problems within these states and the Government will have to put more emphasis on solving these, which weakens the defense mechanism of the State against the possible attack threat from its neighboring countries like China. A Chinese attack has been lingering for sometime now on the border state of Arunachal Pradesh. So the question is why not NDFB seek help from China in their fight for a separate Bodoland? The answer again is simple, NBFB’s link with China is not at all strong and after the arrest of its Chairman Ranjan Daimary, the group is without any proper leadership who can mentor the young cadres. This is the reason the news of a death of NDFB cadres is so very common these days.
Now, the only way left for NDFB from completely perishing and surviving is join hands with the Pro-talk members of ULFA and demand united with ULFA for the greater interest of Asom, rather then sticking to their absolute absurd dream of forming a separate Bodoland. Not only NDFB, but also the other rebel organizations of the state should now join hands with ULFA and fight united as fighting alone they are going to achieve nothing. The GoI now will not bow down to any secession threat from NDFB or other organizations when it has been able to tackle the sovereignty issue of ULFA quite tactfully. The conflict resolution mechanism adopted by the GoI to tackle the ULFa will surely not be used in case of NDFB. They have already showed respect to the demands of Bodo people by granting them an autonomous council. It will not be tough for them to trace and hunt down all the remaining leaders of NDFB. It is a matter of survival game now for the NDFB and also a matter of pride; since it was the first Bodo rebel organization to have voiced for a separate Bodoland. They have not gained anything in the lasr decade by carrying out act of violence in the region; most heinous being the serial blasts of 30th October, 2008. Instead of gaining mass support, they have lost it in tons and most importantly they are fast losing the support of their own people. The act of violence carried in the BTAD areas has complemented it to a great extent. The ball is in NDFB’s court now, and it is up to them as what they wish for; exist or vanish!