Bodo rebel outfit extends ceasefire with New Delhi

Himalayan News Service

Guwahati, April 18:

A powerful tribal separatist group in Assam has extended a ceasefire with New Delhi for six months, raising hopes for an end to more than two decades of violent insurgency in the region. The outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland for the Bodo tribe, said the truce had been extended till October 15. The NDFB had earlier offered a unilateral ceasefire from October 15 last year for six months. Despite the rebel group offering a truce, New Delhi was yet to formally announce a reciprocal gesture although the Assam government said it had scaled back anti-insurgency operations against the NDFB. Analysts say if New Delhi manages to bring the NDFB to the negotiating table and reach a peace settlement soon, it could put pressure on the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), one of Assam’s influential rebel group. The NDFB is one of the region’s dreaded rebel armies with an estimated 1,500 fighters, who largely carry out hit-and-run attacks. The Bodos, a primitive tribe most of whom are now either Hindus or Christians, account for about 10 percent of Assam’s 26 million people and are settled mostly in western and northern part of the state.