Why in news?
The COVID-19 pandemic may earn Governor’s rule for the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) in Assam.
The State’s Governor is the constitutional head of the BTAD that falls under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and is administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).
Why Governor’s rule?
Elections were scheduled to be held for the BTC on April 4 but was deferred indefinitely in view of the pandemic. The council’s current term expires on April 27.
What is Bodoland?
- Bodoland, officially the Bodoland Territorial Region, is an autonomous region in the state of Assam in India.
- Historically Bodoland Territorial Region was inhabited by the Boros or Bodos or Kacharis and Mechs.
- It made up of four districts on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river, by the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is administered by an elected body known as the Bodoland Territorial Council.
- The region covers an area of over eight thousand square kilometres and is predominantly inhabited by the indigenous Bodo people and other indigenous communities of Assam.
History of Bodoland Territorial Region and Peace Agreements
- For decades, the Bodos, a Tibeto-Burmese ethnic group and the largest plains tribe in Assam, have sustained a bloody armed struggle demanding their own separate state.
- The Bodos were once the sole inhabitants of the Brahmaputra north bank, but during the pre-colonial era, they were victims of large-scale land alienation; large portions of their traditional land were either expropriated by the government or transferred to other communities.
- Doubled with internal and illegal international migration to these areas, the Bodos became reduced to a minority population in Assam, brewing discontent among the community since the 1960s. By 1979, Bodo leadership decided to actively support and participate in the rebellion led by the All Assam Students’ Union against illegal Bangladeshi migrants, in the hope that an anti-foreigner move would evict settlers on Bodo land.
- The first attempt to end Bodo violence by way of regional autonomy came about in the 1993 tripartite accord signed between the Central government, the Assamese government, and the Bodo people, who were represented by the ABSU and the Bodo People’s Action Committee.
- This agreement paved the way for the Bodoland Autonomous Council (BAC) to partially fulfill the factions’ demands for maximum autonomy in matters of “social, economic, educational, ethnic and cultural advancement” in designated Bodo-majority areas.
- But the ‘failure’ of the government to comply with their demand of incorporating non-Bodo majority villages into their new territory convinced many that the struggle needed to become more violent to be able to protect Bodo interests and eventually form a new state.
- The 2003 accord founded the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD), including the districts of Udalguri, Baksa, Chirang and Kokrajhar and spanning an area of 27,100 km. Kokrajhar was declared as the capital of the BTAD, where the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) assumed power over education, social welfare, forest management, and other areas covered under modified provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. It also recognized the Bodo language as the first tribal language to be included in the Eighth Schedule.
Bodoland Territorial Council
- The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) is an autonomous district council for the Bodoland Territorial Region of Assam state in India, established in February 2003.
- The executive and legislative powers of the Bodoland Territorial Council are derived from the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India and the 2003 and 2020 Bodoland Peace Agreements.
- The Bodoland Territorial Council can levy taxes, fees and tolls on; buildings and land, animals, vehicles, boats, entry of goods into the area, roads, ferries, bridges, sanitation, employment and income and general taxes for the maintenance of schools and roads.