The All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), which has been spearheading movement for a separate Bodoland state, has claimed that the accord signed on Monday was "call of the time" to "end armed conflict" and that there is still time to "discuss about a separate state". ABSU, however, indicated that it has not yet given up its aspiration for a separate Bodoland state.
"There is still time for discussion on separate state. In fact during the course of negations and discussion on this accord this issue had been raised but this accord looked at the larger issue of end to armed conflicts. This has been a key issue for which ABSU had struggled and thus with this accord the armed conflict in Bodoland will get resolved. The need of the hour is sustainable peace in the region," ABSU President Pramod Bodo told NDTV.
The All Bodo Students' Union was part of the tripartite agreement signed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and rebel group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
Under the agreement, the Centre will take a sympathetic view of those who took up arms for the statehood movement, sources said.
More than 1,500 militants are expected to surrender on January 30. "They are not militants now, all are our brothers," said Amit Shah. Of them, those who have a clean record will be made part of the paramilitary forces. The families of those who died in the Bodo movement will receive Rs 5 lakh as compensation.
The peace process with NDFB started a decade ago, but gathered pace only in 2013 when the Ranjan Daimary faction started talks with the centre.
However, there were two major issues - government was holding separate talks with NDFB (Progressive) and NDFB ( Ranjan); the NDFB(S) was not part of talks and was still unleashing terror in the region.
During that time, the UPA government, which was in centre at the time, granted separate statehood for Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh. This resulted in ABSU reviving its call for a separate state.
The ABSU movement gathered steam after Peoples' Joint Action Committee for Bodoland Movement (PJACBM), a conglomeration of 55 outfits of various ethnic groups in the proposed Bodoland, also announced support.
"For the past three years we were in touch with Ministry of Home Affairs and when we found centre to be committed to create an arms free society we also included the Bodo society. We reached out to all factions and we have arrived at a composite agreement where entire Bodo society was involved" Pramod Boro, President All Bodo Students Union, said.
Mr Boro is seen as one of the 'key negotiator' who helped bringing everyone onboard. "We did not want to lose any more youth to bullets. Now it's up to Centre and Assam government. Their sincerity will be tested, we are hopeful that we will walk towards a solution, for now its conflict resolution" Mr Boro further added.
While Mr Boro is holding his card close to his chest and not opening up on whether ABSU will withdraw its separate state demand, the students body would be hopeful that this accord succeeds in achieving peace which two accords in past had failed to do.