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Home > News > Report

Truce with NDFB ultras hangs in fire

K Anurag in Guwahati | April 28, 2006 12:37 IST

The ceasefire between the government of India and the banned Bodo militant group National Democratic Front of Bodolandis precariously poised with cloud of uncertainty hovering over its extension after its expiry on May 31 next.

The uncertainty is rooted in the lack of progress on the negotiation front with the militant groupand the NDFB's decision to put pre-conditions for extension of the truce that has been in force since June 1, 2005.

The general secretary of the group Govinda Basumatary told media in Guwahati thatthe government of India failed to start actual negotiations during the last 11 months of truce. He raised questions about the justification for extending such a ceasefire pact that has failed to deliver.

The militant leader stated that the group was still awaiting a formal invitation for negotiation from the government of India and warned that the outfit was prepared to pull out of the ceasefire pact in case the invitation did not come.

The government has cited NDFB's failure to submit its charter of demands on time as the reason for delay in holding talks with the militant group, but the NDFB leader saidthe government had never given a formal written request asking for the charter of demands.

The NDFB that launched the armed struggle in the year 1986 demanding sovereignty for the Bodo tribal community, claimed it had prepared the charter of demands in consultation with Bodo civil society groups.

Meanwhile, the militant group has put a pre-condition for extension of the truce.

It has asked that the government of India to tell it about the whereabouts of some NDFB leaders and cadres who went missing in the wake of 'Operation All Clear' launched by the Royal Bhutan Army in December 2003 to evict the outfit from the Himalayan kingdom.

The group's central publicity secretary B Erakdao, commanding officer of its second armed battalion Hebrang Basumatary and some others have remained untraced since then.

The peace process suffered a jolt last week with the arrests of eight NDFB militants in Guwahati by thepolice on charges of extortion.

The group called for a statewide bandh on April 25 demanding unconditional release of the arrested cadres.

The bandh turned violent and one NDFB man was allegedly killed in police firing in western Assam much to the chagrin of the leadership of the group.

The NDFB claimed that the arrested cadres were not on an extortion spree, instead they were in Guwahati seeking 'donation' as the outfit required money to run its truce-time designated camps and feed the cadres lodged in those camps.

Sensing the trouble brewing in the Bodo-tribe dominated areas in the state over thepeace process that has failed to take off so far, Assam government dashed a letter to the government of India with a request to start the actual negotiation with the militant group.

The uncertainty over the peace process has led to tension in Bodo tribal dominated areas where civil society groups are keeping their fingers crossed over the fate of the ceasefire that had brought about peace in the troubled zone after over two decades.

Convenor of the All Bodo Peace Forum Bharmon Baglari informed that an undercurrent of tension and uneasiness had gripped the Bodo areas due to 'inordinate delay' in starting negotiation with NDFB militants.

"If the ceasefire breaks down because of lack of progress in negotiations, the government of India will be held responsible by the people for whatever may be the fallout," he said.

The peace forum played a key role in persuading the NDFB to declare unilateral cease-fire in October 2004.

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