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Assam: 50,000 Bodos hit streets, demand statehood

October 15, 2011 16:03 IST

Bodos, the largest tribe ethnic to Assam, on Saturday hold a massive rally at North Assam tea town Dekiajuli reviving their long-standing demand for a separate Bodoland state and warned that in case the United Progressive Alliance government gave consent to Telangana statehood, Bodoland must also be created.

Over 50,000 people from the tribe staged the rally blocking the arterial National Highway 52 in this tea under the aegis of influential All Bodo Students Union which has warned of unrelenting and intensive democratic movement until a separate state is granted.

The Bodo tribe claims to have has a population of about 20 lakh on North bank of Brahmaputra River in Assam and demands a separate state on being the single largest ethnic group inhabiting that particular stretch of Assam.

"Though the Union government granted autonomy to the community in 2003 in the form of Bodoland Territorial Council as per the Bodo Peace Accord signed with now disbanded militant outfit Bodo Liberation Tiger, the community has been disillusioned over failure of the council trigger of all round development at the desired pace as its doesn't have sufficient power for the purpose," ABSU president Promode Bodo said.

Addressing the rally, he said, "Our demand for statehood dates back to 1987 and we are closely watching what decision the UPA government takes after Diwali about Telangana statehood demand as promised by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

"If creation of a Telangana state is approved by the Centre, there is no reason for not granting separate state to Bodo tribe in Assam. There will be no rest if no Bodoland. We are prepared for a prolonged phase of peaceful mass movement," he said.

The people came to rally in big groups holding placards shouting 'no Bodoland no rest', 'Divide Assam 50-50' etc.

The Centre has taken the Telangana stir more seriously when the agitation out there paralysed the region for a spell of more than 25 days. The ABSU will be compelled to resort to non-violent movement and call for even 1,000-hour bandh if the Union government continues to ignore Bodo statehood demand. The government created three new states in 2000, and if Telangana is created, why not Bodoland," the ABSU leader said.

K Anurag in Guwahati