In an emphatic win for the security forces and the Indian Government, 1,600 cadres of three factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland laid down arms.

The cadres laid down arms before Assam chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal and finance minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has spearheaded the push for peace in the Northeast in a series of tweets welcomed the development. He said, “I welcome the decision of my Bodo friends for leaving violence and reposing faith in democracy and the Constitution.”

Part of the mainstream:

The laying down of arms by the NDFB cadres comes in the wake of the last Bodo militant group leaving Myanmar and surrendering before the Indian authorities. Heavily armed cadres of the group led by their chairman B Saoraigwra surrendered before the Indian forces.

In the latest development, 836 cadres of the NDFB-Progressive, 579 from the NDFB Ranjan Daimary faction and 200 of the NDFB (S) led by Saoraigwra laid down arms in a bid to be part of the mainstream.

Post the surrender, Sonowal said that he was confident that this move would inspire others, who were yet to give up arms, to come together and work for Team Assam. It may be recalled that on January 27, the NDFB factions had signed a tripartite peace accord with the government. The key role in this development was played by the All Bodo Students Union President Pramod Boro and top Intelligence Bureau official, Tapan Deka.

Peaceful and permanent solution:

Officials who worked tirelessly behind the scenes tell MyNation that the 2020 agreement signed on January 27 is an extremely significant one. It has witnessed the surrender of so many heavily armed cadres. This is an indication that they want to come into the mainstream and work for Assam, he also said.

The agreement brought together several stakeholders in the Bodoland movement, which included both armed groups and civil society groups. This agreement will pave the way for a peaceful and permanent solution to the problem.

It has barely been four days since the agreement was signed and already one has witnessed the surrender of cadres from the armed resistance groups such as the NDFB-Progressive, NDFB - Ranjan Daimary, NDFB- Saoraigwra.

It may be recalled that the Bodo Security Force was formed in 1986. 

Following the rejection of the Bodo Accord, 1993, the organisation was re-named as the NDFB in the year 1994. For years, the government has found it difficult to contain these groups as it was one of the biggest militant groups in the region. The group which worked alongside the ULFA carried out several strikes on non-Bodo civilians and security forces.

Development the key:

For the Modi government development has been the key. Since the BJP came to power in 2014, there has been a heavy emphasis on the problems in the Northeast. The government has deployed its best minds to sort out the issues in the region. Each officer with extensive knowledge of the area has been handpicked to look into issues in the region.

As part of the 2020 agreement, a package of Rs 1,500 crore over the next three years has been earmarked for the development of the Bodo region.

This would help improve areas of the Bodoland Territorial Council. Further there would also be an emphasis on the protection of social, cultural and linguistic identities of the Bodo community. The BTC would also get more legislative, financial, executive and administration control. There would be a heavy push on issues such as renewable energy, mini-hydel projects, rural electrification and non-conventional energy sources.

The latest agreement also assured to notify Bodo language as the associate official language in Assam.

Army confident:

In the wake of these major developments, the Indian Army Chief, General Mukund Naravane spoke about a change in strategy in the Northeast. He said that the troops would be further reduced once the Bodoland Territorial Council elections are over.

The Army Chief signalled that the focus would not be on counter-insurgency operations, but on conventional warfare in the North-East. The confidence shown by the Army Chief clearly signals that the spate of decisions taken by the government is leading to the stability of the North East.

Apart from Assam, the government has also been focusing on bringing other insurgent groups in states such as Manipur and Nagaland to the mainstream. They are being convinced to give up arms and join mainstream politics.

In this context one must also speak about the history. Bru-Reang refugee agreement in Tripura. This was in fact a 22-year-old dispute that came to an end. It may be recalled that the crisis came to an end following a meeting of Union home minister Amit Shah, the chief ministers of Mizoram, Tripura and the representatives of the Bru tribes.

According to the new agreement, 35,000 Bru refugees will settle in Tripura and be given help for rehabilitation. A Rs 6,000 crore package, individual plots of land with rights and a stipend of Rs 5,000 per month would also be provided, as per the agreement.