Kokrajhar (Assam), March 14 (IANS) Bodo leaders on Tuesday threatened to destabilise the entire northeastern region of the country if the government continued to ignore their demand for a separate state.
They said that both the state government and the Centre should be prepared to face law and order problem if an amicable solution was not reached over the issue.
The Bodos have been demanding a separate state for the 60-lakh-odd Bodo community in Assam since the late 1960s. The Bodo leaders allege that the governments at the Centre and in the state have failed to honour promises made to the community.
Contending that the central and state governments were not responding to the demands of the community, the Bodo leaders said they were being treated as second-class citizens in their own country.
“The government should not treat us like Bangladeshis or Pakistanis. They should make up their mind whether they want to talk to us or they want to fight. They don’t need to try to befool us,” said All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) President Pramod Bodo.
“We are warning all forces working against the interests of the Bodos and other indigenous communities to refrain from such activities, if they want peace in the state of Assam,” he added.
The Bodo activists have since March 10 begun a hunger strike in Kokrajhar and scores of hunger-strikers — who include the aged in large numbers — have begun showing signs of weakness.
The hunger strike is jointly led by ABSU, National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Progressive (NDFB-P) and the People’s Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM).
Pramod Bodo said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had on Monday urged the hunger strikers to call off the protest but had failed to mention any time frame for the political dialogue over their demand.
A large number of prominent members of the community, including Padmashri Kameswar Brahma, litterateur Toren Boro from Bodo Sahitya Sabha, and Ranjan Daimary, founder chairman of National Democratic Front of Bodoland, joined the hunger strike on Tuesday.
Daimary warned the government not to underestimate the Bodos and other indigenous communities over their demands.
“I hope the government is not under-estimating the might of indigenous communities… if they are doing so, they will have to face the consequences. We appeal to the government to take appropriate steps for amicable solution of the long-pending Bodo political issue,” said Daimary.
A massive mass rally, with around a lakh of people participating, was taken out in Kokrajhar town in support of the movement on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the health condition of scores of activists on hunger strike deteriorated and they had to be taken to the RNB Civil Hospital.
“It is really tragic that elected governments in the country are not reciprocating the peaceful and non-violent movement. I am afraid this will only instigate alternative path to raise voices to draw attention from people at the helm of affairs,” said litterateur Kameswar Brahma while addressing the protestors.
The formerly militant group NDFB-P said that despite their shunning arms and joining peace talks on the demand for Bodoland on the government’s plea, there has been no positive response from the government.