Bodoland. The word itself is an inseparable element of the Bodos and the tribals of the proposed Bodoland that comprises of the territory from Sankosh to Sadiya.
The dream of the Bodo youths at large is making this dream a reality against all odds – sacrificing their valuable time, career and self-development. Though it is the dream of all sections regardless of age variations, it is led by the Bodo youths who have the potential to fight and continue the revolution at the cost of their blood, until their final breath.
The revolution for self-identity and self-rule, the fight of the oppressed, suppressed and the discriminated, for a democratic, non-violent war against the establishment for unheard issues, genuine political rights and the struggle to survive as a human with basic rights, the love for the culture, tradition and language compels the Bodo youths in making the bold decision.
The long-standing demand for statehood has been a far cry due to the lackadaisical attitude of the democratic government in power irrespective of the political parties. Apparently, in the Indian democracy, things move like a tortoise when the issues are not related to some political gains. But still, the movement of the Bodos is continued by the youths with patience and tolerance and with faith in democracy.
But the million dollar question is – Till when it can be tolerated? What is the maximum limit? With this slow pace in the decision-making process of the government, how can the youths in any revolution stay calm and tolerant, when the world is moving at a very faster rate?
If the sky is the limit, then how can the youths compete with the outer world when the beginning is yet to take place? With this limited age span, how can the youths contribute towards the nation when their internal problems are still not addressed? The delaying tactics in the democracy will fail the largest democracy one day if the matter is not handled sensitively.
The outcry of the Gorkhalis and their demand for Gorkhaland seen on the streets of Darjeeling and the national capital is a signal to the establishment as to how the common citizens can act and react when their genuine demands are not fulfilled.
The message sent by the Gorkhas is clear, “You love our tea and toy train, we serve the nation as soldiers but when we demand our rights you term us as terrorists.” The government states technical difficulties in creating new states but doesn’t clarify their stand, be it the Gorkhaland, Bodoland, Vidharbha, Tipraland and many more.
Either the government should grant it or reject it.
Article 2 and Article 3 of the constitution, are not clear as to the eligibility of a particular territory to be a state. The anti-Bodoland factions challenge the population pattern, demography, etc. and claim to be the majority in proposed Bodoland. But they never talk about the fact that the Bodos are the single largest community in the northeast and the tribals are the majority in the proposed Bodoland.
They will never speak about the population pattern of the Bodos and tribals when the demand of the tribal state was made. They will never raise their voices for the rights of the tribals, be it the eviction of illegal settlers from tribal belt and blocks, the development of tribal languages and cultures or on the irrelevant debates on the news shows.
Assam is a multi-lingual state and each language has the right to its own existence. To protect and promote it, the government has to prepare a roadmap. But the question is – are there any institutions in the capital of Assam or any part of Assam entrusted with the task to promote the indigenous languages? No.
The rights of indigenous people are always neglected and alienated under the false presumption of ‘the greater Assamese society. The Bodos were never a part of greater Assamese society because they always consider themselves as distinct, having a different culture, tradition and language than the mainstream Assamese.
Why Bodos don’t call themselves as Assamese or fear to be a part of the greater Assamese concept?
The Bodos not calling themselves Assamese has a historical part of deprivation, discrimination and the policy of wiping out the very existence of the Bodos by destroying their culture, language and various traditional practices by the sections who were the propounders of aggressive Assamese nationalism. Why should the Bodos be Assamese against their will? Why the Bodos were and are forced to learn the artificial Assamese language when the majority of Bodos are not well versed in it till date? Isn’t it injustice done towards the Bodos? In a multi-lingual state like Assam how is it justified to compel the tribal populations with one particular language that is alien for them and making it the official language? A language to be an official state language needed 70% speakers but the harsh reality is that the political scenario in Assam is controlled by the handful of elites who buy their votes and support under the false banner of being Assamese. The people of Barak Valley speak Bengali, the tribals of north bank speak different languages, the tribals of Upper Assam though assimilated have a different language; here the pictures becomes clear as to what is the number of Assamese speakers?
Clause 6 & 10 of the Assam Accord didn’t clearly define whether the tribals would come under its umbrella.
Clause 6 says about the Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards of the Assamese people to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity but with one language, one culture policy, how is it possible of even thinking for other linguistic groups and their promotion or development. These things are unclear and that is why the Bodos and the tribals fear to be an Assamese. If Clause 6 really meant of inclusion of all the tribal indigenous populations and their rights then why a single step or voice is not made by the mainstream Assamese in promoting the Mishing, Tiwas, Rabhas, Deoris, Bodos, Sonowals, Thengals linguistic problem? The Tiwas, Rabhas and the others are demanding sixth schedule but no voice or support is seen on the part of mainstream. Recently the Asom Sahitya Sabha said that anyone who has resided in Assam from a period of time and speaks Assamese is an Assamese. Such weird definition can’t be accepted by the tribal communities.
The Bodos don’t call themselves Assamese because they fear the policy of destroying their unique identity and culture in the name of being an Assamese by the aggressive Assamese nationalism.
Why the Bodos don’t trust the propounders of greater Assamese concept?
When a Bodo dance troupe is selected at national level to represent the state in an international platform then the Assam state made a secret policy of not sending the team and replacing it with a Bihu dance group. Is it the equal promotion of all cultures and the space for promotion? These minute fact is a clear indications as to how the Bodos are in unsafe hands. When a Bodo wants to enjoy the right meant as a citizen of Assam he is discriminated, but when the Bodos demands the rights to be fulfilled then he is an Assamese and has equal rights and opportunities. The policy of depriving the rights of Bodos by bringing them under the ambit of Assamese concept is not acceptable. If Assamese is not a “jati” as said by the propounders of it then why are we concern about the very existence of it. There are larger issues to be dealt with. If Asom Sahitya Sabha represents all the communities of Assam then what is their contribution towards the tribal populations and their linguistic developments. Just singing the anthem of unity and showcasing the dance on public platform is not the right way of promotion and development of all the communities.
What the Bodos shouldn’t forget ?
To the Bodos who thinks revolution is not necessary.
Somebody, somewhere, somehow at a period of time sacrificed for your luxuries and privilege. The very fact of being identified as a Bodo is the result of the sacrifices of many revolutionaries who stood in the difficult times, resisted and maintained the unique identity.
The subsidized education enjoyed by your ST certificate or the reservation in jobs and employment opportunities can be credited in the name of many unsung revolutionaries of our communities who sacrificed their valuable time for the sake of your enjoyment. The safe and peaceful environment of your locality is the contribution of many social workers who worked untiredly and selflessly.
Therefore it’s the duty of the younger generations to make a payback to their families and generations with a minimum or in the best capacity. Revolution on the other hand is not static, the results are. The society may not impact you directly but when you make a deeper analysis of the condition the inter-links are found. That is why human felt the need of society and formed it for their self efficacy.
The Bodos are such a beautiful community with culture, tradition, language being distinct and unique with the outer world. The Bodos have a potential to excel in the field of sports, dance, music etc. but are lacking behind due to poverty, quality education, infrastructure. Every Bodo youth has a duty to contribute in the best interest of the community for the upliftment of the many populations who are yet deprived, oppressed, suppressed, exploited and discriminated by the government in power.
Time for the educated and learnt Bodo youths to carry the load of social engineering and take the community to a whole new level from where the concept of Bodofa Upendranath Brahma’s “Geremsa Mahari” or the master race can be a reality.