The Assam government's notification on the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council has given fillip to fears among the non-Bodo communities, portending a resumption of sectarian violence.
Article by M S Prabhakara, written in November 2003 (Courtesy: Frontline)
For a state that has been mired in recurring forms of violent ethnic conflict, the recent set of incidents in Udalguri and Darrang districts of Assam which resulted in widespread arson and the deaths of 40 people do not come as a surprise.These districts, apart from two other, are part of the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). The BTAD consists of a majority of tribal people (most of whom belong to the ethnic Bodo community) and was created after protracted struggles and negotiations between Bodo groups and the Indian state.
The violence and mayhem in Udalguri and Darrang have to be seen in the background of the present phase of communal mobilisation in the 'anti-foreigner' agitations rocking the entire state. Added to this are unresolved tensions emanating from the creation of an "exclusive Bodo district" in an area where the Bodo tribals form only a small majority, with other identities substantially represented".
Uddhab Barman, CPI(M) Assam State Secretary, writes on the multiple factors that contributed to the communal flare up and violence. An EPW editorial highlights the ethnic divisions that remained unresolved when the the Bodoland Territorial Areas District was created and got exacerbated subsequently. Also, an article by MS Prabhakara written in 2003 from Frontline on the issues around Bodoland.
The LTTE, by all accounts, seems to have been lassoed. The dreaded militant outfit fighting for an independent Tamil state within Sri Lanka, is said to be engaged in a last ditch battle from its encircled base in the Vanni region in Jaffna. The Lankan army claims to be a couple of kilometres short of the LTTE’s administrative headquarters in Kilinochchi.