Centre engaged in back channel talks with Bodo militants

P. Chidambaram, Union Home Minister. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
P. Chidambaram, Union Home Minister. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram on Wednesday disclosed that the Centre was engaged in back channel talks with the jailed chief of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Ranjan Daimary in Assam, and reiterated the Centre’s resolve to hold dialogues with any group that shuns violence.
“We are talking with Ranjan Daimary. He is in prison and we are talking with him through the back channel,” Mr. Chidambaram informed the Rajya Sabha during Question Hour.
He said the Union Government was in touch with Mr. Daimary and hoped that once the talks start, there would be progress. “One faction of the NDFB was in favour of talks with the government, but the one led by Mr. Daimary was not. The Centre is committed to engage in political dialogue with any group, which is ready to shun violence,’’ he remarked.
NDFB was formed under Daimary’s leadership in November 1994 to demand a separate Bodoland in Assam. The outfit broke into two following the Assam bomb blasts in 2008 in which Mr. Daimary was named as the mastermind. The hardline faction of NDFB, which project itself as the real NDFB, is led by Daimary.
Mr. Chidambaram said the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution was amended for the creation of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which took office in May 2005. Bodo language has also been included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. About 846 ex-Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) cadres have also been recruited in central police forces and the approval for appointment of 400 ex-BLT cadres as Special Police Officers (SPOs) has been given to the State government.
On the query whether the recent Supreme Court judgment on SPOs would affect this decision, he said: “I don't think so.”
A Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) was signed between the Union Government, Assam Government and the Bodo Liberation Tiger in 2003 for setting up the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam and the inclusion of the Bodo language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, among others.
“The government is committed to implement MoS in letter and spirit. The implementation of MoS is being reviewed in the Home Ministry periodically,” he stated.
He said the Assam Government had late last year recommended the inclusion of the tribes living in Karbi Anglong and N.C. Hills districts and Scheduled Tribes (hills) living in the plain districts of Assam in the list of Scheduled Tribes (Hills) along with Bodo Kacharis. “As per approved modalities of the government, the proposal of the Assam Government needs consultation with the Registrar General of India and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes,” he added.