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‘Resolving the Bodo Issue’

Published: 3rd Feb, 2020

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Assam government and the Bodo groups signed an agreement to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) in Assam, currently spread over four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.



The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Assam government and the Bodo groups signed an agreement to redraw and rename the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) in Assam, currently spread over four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.


  • The demand for a separate state for the Bodos has been going on in Assam for close to five decades, with several Bodo overground and militant groups having raised it, leading to recurring agitations, protests and violence.
  • This was the third Bodo accord to be signed in last 27 years when the violent movement for a separate Bodoland state claimed hundreds of lives, destruction of public and private properties.
    • First Accord: The first Bodo accord was signed with the All Bodo Students Union in 1993, leading to creation of a Bodoland Autonomous Council with limited political powers.
    • Second Accord: In 2003, the second Bodo accord was signed with the militant group Bodo Liberation Tigers, leading to formation of a Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) with four districts of Assam- Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baska and Udalguri-called Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD).
  • In the 1990s more than 20,000 Muslims were displaced in Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts.
  • In 1998, a bloody clash between Adivasi and Bodos led to the killings of 50 people and around 500 homes were burnt down.
  • In 2014, around 80 people were killed during the conflict between Bodo forces and Adivasi people.


Key-takeaways from the Agreement:

  • With this agreement, over 1500 armed cadres will abjure violence and join the mainstream.
  • Funding: A Special Development Package Rs. 1500 crores over three years will be given by the Union Government to undertake specific projects for the development of Bodo areas.
  • Commission: It proposes to set up a commission under Section 14 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India, which will recommend the inclusion or exclusion of tribal population residing in villages adjoining BTAD areas.
    • In this commission, besides State government there will be representatives from ABSU and BTC.
    • It will submit its recommendation within six months from the date of notification.
  • Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council: The Government of Assam will establish a Bodo-Kachari Welfare Council as per existing procedure.
  • Associate official language: The Assam government will also notify Bodo language as an associate official language in the state and will set up a separate directorate for Bodo medium schools.
    • Although Bodo was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution in 2004, it is yet to receive an official language status.
    • Bodo with Devnagri script will now become Associate official language for the entire state of Assam.
  • As per the agreement, villages dominated by Bodos that were presently outside the BTAD would be included and those with non-Bodo population would be excluded.
  • Tribal status: Bodos living in the hills would be conferred a Scheduled Hill Tribe status.
  • Structural changes: The name of BTAD will be changed to Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) and it will have more executive, administrative, legislative and financial powers.
    • However, th0e “memorandum of settlement” does not have any provisions for a separate state.
    • Instead, it seeks to “augment area and powers” of the existing Bodoland Territorial Council and “streamline its functioning”.
    • The existing structure of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) will be strengthened with more powers and its seats will be expanded from 40 to 60.
  • Central University: A Central university in the name of Upendranth Brahma will be established within Bodoland area.
  • Institutions: National Sports University; Institute of Livelihood management, Regional medical institute; tribal university, rural development centre, veterinary college, music and fine art college and many more centres will be set up in the region to ensure progress.

Signatories to the Agreement:

  • The Bodoland Territorial Council, All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), various factions of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)- Gobindo Basumatary faction, Dhirendra Bodo faction, RanjanDaymari faction and Saoraigwra faction and the United Bodo Peoples Organization (UBPO) are party to the agreement with the Centre and the Assam.

Who are Bodos?

  • The Bodo people are the largest tribe of Assam settled in the northern part of the Brahmaputra river valley.
  • It is estimated that the Bodo tribe comprise 28 percent of Assam's population.
  • Bodos are an ethnolinguistic community spread across north-east India but are concentrated in Assam.
  • They speak the bodo language, a mixture of a dialect of Tibetan and Burmese, recognised as one of the twenty-two scheduled languages in the constitution of India.

What is the BTC?

  • The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) is an autonomous body under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • BTC, currently has control over 30 subjects such as education, forests, horticulture but no jurisdiction over the police, revenue and general administration departments, which are controlled by the Assam government.
  • The area under the jurisdiction of BTC, formed under the 2003 Accord, was called the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District(BTAD).
  • As per the accord, the BTAD was renamed Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). BTAD comprises Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri districts, accounting for 11% of Assam’s area and 10% of its population.

Sixth schedule of the Constitution:

  • The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India (Articles 244(2) and 275(1)) provides for decentralized self-governance and dispute resolution through local customary laws in parts of the North East which are mainly tribal areas.
  • It contains provisions as to the Administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. 

Area Covered

                                        Sixth Schedule





(Tribal Area)
North Cachar Hills District & Karbi Anglong District

(Tribal Area)
Bodoland Territorial Areas District

(Tribal Area)
Tripura State, except Shillong Municipal and Cantonment Area

(Tribal Area)
Chakma District,
Mara District &
Lai District

(Tribal Area)
Khasi Hills District, 
Jaintia Hills District &
Garo Hills District


(Autonomous) District Council & (Autonomous) Regional Council

Bodoland Territorial Council

(Autonomous) District Council & 
(Autonomous) Regional Council

 Significance of the Agreement:

  • The objective of the agreement is to increase the scope and powers of the BTC and to streamline its functioning; resolve issues related to Bodo people residing outside Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD); promote and protect Bodo's social, cultural, linguistic and ethnic identities; providing legislative protection for the land rights of tribals; ensure quick development of tribal areas and rehabilitate members of NDFB factions.
  • It is expected to usher in a new dawn of peace, harmony and togetherness and that those associated with armed resistance groups would now enter the mainstream and contribute to the nation's progress.
  • The accord will lead to transformative results for Bodos as it successfully brings together leading stakeholders under one framework and would help Bodo people get access to development-oriented initiatives.
  • This agreement will facilitate all-round development of the Bodo areas, their language and culture will be protected without compromising the territorial integrity of Assam. 


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