NDFB-P impasse continues

New Delhi, Feb. 1: The deadlock in negotiations between the National Democratic Front of Boroland (Progressive) and the Centre continued with Delhi insisting on a resolution by the Assam Assembly for creating "Bodoland".

There is also uncertainty over the 10 other demands the NDFB (P) has submitted to the Centre. Last week, a letter written by the Centre to NDFB leaders, inviting them to the capital for "finalisation of the memorandum of settlement" had raised hopes of a breakthrough.

However, a three-hour marathon between an eight-member delegation of the outfit and senior officials of the home ministry failed to finalise things yesterday. A few leaders of the outfit held another round of consultations at the ministry of home affairs today.

"Nothing has been achieved. The home ministry told us that Assam has stated that no resolution has been adopted by the state Assembly to create a separate state. The Centre says unless a resolution is passed in the Assembly, 'we cannot help'," an NDFB leader said.

The only difference in the deliberations was perhaps the presence of P.C. Haldar, interlocutor for talks with the outfit, with the NDFB (P) this time dropping its insistent refusal to talk to him.

The next round of talks will be held on February 28, Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (Northeast) in the home ministry, said.

NDFB (P) leader Govinda Basumatary iterated the statehood demand, stopping just short of connecting it with the Telangana demand.

Sources in the home ministry said the premises of many of the demands were tenuous. The Centre is, however, examining the demand involving Chapter 10 of the Assam Land Revenue Regulation of 1886 in which 48 tribal belts and blocks were enlisted. The NDFB wants implementation of the regulation so that alleged illegal migrants occupying tribal land can be evicted.

The NDFB demand that four parliamentary constituencies � Guwahati, Lakhimpur, Tezpur and Udalguri � be declared reserved for Scheduled Tribes may also not cut ice with the government. The home ministry's stand is that it has no role in this, as the Election Commission will examine the issue.

A similar response was received by NDFB leaders on reservation of 25 more Assembly seats.

"We have demanded that seats should be reserved on basis of tribal belts and blocks and tribal councils," said NDFB publicity secretary, S. Sanjarang. "We have become a minority in our own areas," he added.

The "Bodoland" issue is being seen by the security establishment as another genie in a bottle. There is little difference between the way the government sees the demands for separate states of Telangana, Gorkhaland and Bodoland. Each of these demands drives the other, it is felt in the government.

The NDFB faction led by jailed leader Ranjan Daimary continues to pursue an armed movement for statehood. Haldar is negotiating with Daimary, who is in a Guwahati jail, while leaders like Songbijit remain in hiding in Myanmar.

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