Don’t engage with any splinter Bodo group in peace process: NDFB (P) to govt

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NEW DELHI, Oct 4 (PTI): The government should not entertain any splinter Bodo group from Assam as it will affect the ongoing peace process in the northeastern state, according to NDFB (P) chief Gobinda Basumatary.

His argument came after the insurgent group’s senior leader and president of its executive body, Dhiren Bodo, was expelled by the top command of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (Progressive) last month.

Unfazed by the unceremonious ouster, Dhiren Bodo along with some of his supporters has since formed his own faction with the same nomenclature and is said to have met several senior central government officials seeking their endorsement to replace the Basumatary-led faction as the representative of Bodos in the ongoing peace process.

Basumatary, whose NDFB (P) was the first armed extremist group of the Bodos to initiate peace talks with the Centre, alleged that despite informing the central government officials about the emergence of a splinter group, there has been no communication from their end.

“As of now, the peace talks are going on smoothly and in a positive direction. However, there are chances of them getting negatively impacted if the government entertains the splinter group and negotiates with them instead of us,” Basumatary told PTI.

“We have informed the peace negotiation team about the expulsion of Dhiren Bodo from NDFB (P) due to his anti-group activities,” he added.

He claimed that the NDFB (P) led by him is the main stakeholder representing the interests of the Bodo community and the Centre had initiated the talks with his faction.

“We are still hopeful that the government won’t make them (Dhiren Bodo’s group) part of the negotiations because if it happens then there would be serious problems,” Basumatary said.

S Sanjarang, who was elected ‘general secretary’ of the executive body during the general assembly, alleged that the central government was silent on the entire issue and some state government officials have allowed the splinter group cadres to occupy the designated camps which were allotted to them as part of the peace negotiation provisions.

“We have been asking both the governments and the police to clarify their stand on Dhiren Bodo and on what ground his supporters are occupying government allotted designated camp in Baksa district,” Sanjarang said.

Reacting to Sanjarang’s claim, a top Assam Police official said, “The allegations against the Assam Police of provoking the group to split are bizarre. Why should we get into the internal matter of NDFB (P) since they are into peace negotiations with the Centre? The split and creation of a new group is entirely an internal matter of the group.”

“It was allotted to us in 2005 but now the splinter group with the blessings of the Assam government has occupied it,” he claimed.

According to informed sources, amid simmering tension between Basumatary and Dhiren Bodo, the ‘general assembly’ meeting of the group was organised in June after a gap of six years.

During the meeting, Basumatary was elected as the group’s new ‘chairman’ replacing Dhiren Bodo, who was appointed as advisor, which left him fuming and apparently led to the rift between the two stalwarts of the Bodo movement.

Dhiren Bodo, on the other hand, accused Basumatary of running the group in an undemocratic manner.

“They undemocratically expelled me and another leader. Whatever I have done is supported by many of the cadres. Both the central and state governments have acknowledged my group and have assured us to include us in the peace process,” Dhiren Bodo said.

The demand for a separate Bodoland started in 1967 and the struggle soon became an armed conflict after the formation of the Bodo Security Force, a militant group later rechristened NDFB.

Till late last year, the two factions of NDFB– NDFB (P) led by Basumatary and NDFB (R) led by Ranjan Daimary — were engaged in peace talks with the Centre.

However, Daimary, who was out on bail since 2013, was convicted for his role in the 2008 Assam bombings, which left 88 people dead. As the CBI court sentenced him to life imprisonment, the peace negotiations bore the brunt of the judgment.

A third faction, NDFB (S), which was once headed by dreaded extremist Songibijit I K and is now being operated by B Sarawgaira has continuously ruled out any peace talks with the government under the country’s constitutional framework.

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