Intro: Formed with the aim to establish sovereign Bodoland for Bodo people in Assam, National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) is today the most dreaded terrorist organisation of North-East India.
National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) is one of the dreaded terrorist organisation of North-East India. Originally it was formed in the name of Bodo security Force (BSF) on October 3, 1986 with an aim to establish a “Sovereign Bodoland’ under the leadership of Ranjan Daimary alias Nabla MA and later renamed as NDFB in November 1994. Nabla, MA in political Science from North-East hill University (NEHU) of Shillong is a born Hindu but later converted into Christianity and became one of the powerful terrorist leaders of Assam. He successfully maintains alliance with other terrorist organisations like ULFA, MSCN (IM) of Nagaland, PLA of Manipur etc.
NDFB had suffered a big setback in royal Bhutan operation on December 2003 launched by then NDA Government of Atal Behari Vajpayee against Assam terrorist hiding in Bhutan. At that time, NDFB lost many of its men, arms, ammunitions and shelter and forced the outfit to declare ceasefire on October 2004.
Presently NDFB is divided into three different factions:
- 1. NDFB Progressive-led by Dhiren Boro, former Vice-President of NDFB;
- 2. NDFB led by Ranjan Daimary, former President of NDFB; and,
- 3. NDFB Songbijit faction-led by IK Songbijit.
Under the leadership of Dhiren Bodo alias Gobindra Basumatary, Hindu leader of NDFB first revolted the supremacy of Ranjan Daimary and decided to have peace talk with Government of India in October 2008 and submitted demand of Chart to the Government. In the Chart, it agreed to settle the issue of “Bodoland’ within the purview of Indian Constitution. The chart stated: It may be mentioned that Ranjan Daimary (President, NDFB/RD) has also informally scaled down its demand of ‘Sovereignty’ and agreed to solve the ‘Bodoland’ issue within the purview of the Constitution.
But since it was unacceptable to Ranjan Daimary, he still continues with the struggle. It was first on May 1, 2010 that Ranjan Diamary was arrested in Bangladesh and was handed over to Indian authority. His arrest was followed by arrests of several other leaders, forcing the outfit (NDFB/RD) to declare unilateral ceasefire on August 1, 2011. Ultimately this ceasefire again contributed to split NDFB under the leadership of IK Songbijit.
Under Songbijit, NDFB got involved in activities like extortion, kidnapping, procurement of weapons, training of new cadres etc. Cases of widespread extortion coupled with kidnapping for ransom have been reported from Bodo dominating adjoining areas. From 2012, NDFB started ruthless killings in the Northen Part of Brahmaputra Valley of Assam. Now days Songbijit is hiding outside India (his hideouts are believed to be in Nepal, Bhutan or Myanmmar) and operate in his strong hold with the help of 200 highly trained armed cadre. These cadres have crossed all limits of brutality in recent past-They killed women, children, old people even 5 (five) months old kids. After this brutual incident last month Government of India launched operation ‘All Clean’ against Songbijit group. The operation covered entire North Assam, some part of Arunachal Pradesh and Bharat Bhutan Border and its dense forest territory. Army jawans gained success in the operation and have already destroyed more than 10 camps and hide outs in the Inter-state border. Strangely, this time Bodo masses openly extended their support to Army operation.
The issue of Separate Bodoland State
To understand the motive behind the growth of terror outfit NDFB, it is important to understand the political development of Tribal people of Assam in general and Bodo politics in particular to understand the crisis.
The demand of separate state for the tribal people of Assam got birth with the announcement on January 13,1967 of the then Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi that Assam would be re-organised on the basis of federal structure. With such view in mind and the enthusiasm and initiative of All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) and the Plain Tribal Council of State (PTCA) demanded separate Autonomous Region for Tribal people? To achieve the goal the PTCA first time submitted a memorandum on May 20, 1967 to the then President of India Dr Zakir Hussain demanding creation of an Autonomous Region for plain tribals of Assam. Later, the demand of “Autonomous Region’ was upgraded to the demand of ‘Union Territory’ which was christened on January7, 1963 as ‘Udayachal’.However, during National Emergency (1975-76) the PTCA leadership suspended the demand of separate state of Udayachal’ and later they totally gave up the demand in view of making electoral alliance with Janata party in 1977-78 and bargaining for political power. Some hardliner party workers of PTCA and the ABSU members resented this and pressurised the PTCA leaders not to give up the demand. ABSU organised a convention (April 17-19, 1984) of all Tribal organisation and formed a new political Party called United Tribal National Liberation Front (UTNLF). The UTNLF first submitted a memorandum (May 1994) to Prime Minister of India Late Indira Gandhi demanding “Union Territory’ christened as “Tribal land’.
The ABSU has also been submitting memorandum to the central leaders including Prime Minister of India demanding separate state with the Status of Union Territory since 1972 and continued its movement till 1993. On February 20, 1993, the Bodo Accord was signed between ABSU/Bodo People Action Commi-ttee (BPAC) and the State Government giving birth to Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC). As it failed to fulfill the aspirations of Bodo people, the ABSU revived the Bodoland Movement in 1996. Later a Memoran-dum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on February 10, 2003 on the formation of BTC under 6th schedule of the constitution, as a culmination of almost four year long sustained ceasefire and tripartite talk between the Central, State Government and BLT leaders with active Co-operative of ABSU. After the formation of Bodoland Territoral Council (BTC) in 2003, normalcy was returning to the area. The BPF party led by Hagrama Mohilary won both BTC election held in 2005 and 2010 and formed BTC Government headed by Hagrama Mohilary as Chief Executive Member of the BTC.
Following the signing of MoU between the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), the Government of Assam and the Central Government, on Febuary 10, 2003, “Bodoland Territorial Council” was formed under the sixth schedule of the Constitution of India. Through a notification on October 31, 2003, the Government of Assam constituted “The Bodoland Territorial Areas District” (BTAD).
BTAD consists of four districts namely Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri covering an area 8970 sq. Kilometers and 3082 villages. The population figure of these districts is as under as per census of 2001.
The objective of the BTC is to create an autonomous self governing body to fulfill the economic, education and linguistic aspirations, the preservation of land rights, social, cultural and ethnic identity of the Bodos and speed up the infrastructure development in the BTC area.
The BTC has legislative, administrative, executive and financial bodyover 40 subjects like agriculture, education, cultural affairs, rural industries etc. However, law and order is entrusted with the State Government.
As per provision of the BTC Accord, out of 40 seats in BTC, 30 seats are reserved for STs i.e. Bodos, 5 seats are reserved for non-Bodos and 5 seats for General (Bodos & non-Bodos). In the present BYC government, out of 14 Executive members, only 1 Executive Member is from non-Bodo community. Similarly, all the 11 MLAs from BTAD are Bodos and not a single Non-Bodo has been given party ticket by the BPF in the last Assembly elections (2011).
Ranjib Kumar Sharma (The writer is Guwahati based senior journalist)