The government today signed an accord with the National Democratic Front of Bodoland - the banned militant group in Assam - bringing to an end the decades-long statehood movement which saw much bloodshed. The agreement will keep Assam's territorial integrity intact, while ensuring all-round development of the Bodo people with a Rs 1500 crore financial package, said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam minister and the BJP's key strategist in the northeast.
Union minister Amit Shah, who was present on the occasion, said the "historic accord," would "help develop the Bodo region and Assam". He also said it would be permanent as it involves all stakeholders, unlike last time, when three groups were left out.
The tripartite agreement was signed by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, top leadership of the four factions of the NDFB, ABSU, and the Centre. The All Bodo Students' Union, which has been spearheading the statehood movement, was also a signatory.
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.
According to the agreement, the area called BTAD will be renamed as Bodoland Territorial Region and the Centre would expedite 'hills tribe' status to Bodo people living in the hill districts of Assam. The Bodo language, with Devnagri script, will become associate official language for entire of Assam.
The agreement also involves a hefty financial package -- the state government would give Rs 250 crore for 3 years to develop the area. The Centre will also add an equivalent amount, bringing the total to Rs 1500 crore.
The funds would be used to set up industry and employment package and promote eco-tourism. Under the socio-cultural package, the government will set up a Central University in name of Upendranath and a national sports university.
The other projects will include a regional medical institute, hotel management campus, a Mother Dairy plant, a National Institute of Technology and more Navodaya Vidyalayas.
"We will leave no stone unturned to implement the agreement... all the promises will be fulfilled timely," Amit Shah said.