Military


The National Democratice Front of Bodoland (NDFB)

The National Democratice Front of Bodoland (NDFB) was formed in 1988. The original name of the group was the Bodo Security Force (BSF). The Bodos, a primitive tribe who are mostly either Hindus or Christians, account for about 10 percent of Assam's 26 million people and live in the western and northern parts of the state.

The NDFB is led by its chairman, Ranjan Daimary, also known as D.R. Nabla. The group was formed to attain a "sovereign Bodoland" in the region to the north of river Brahmaputra. In addition the group protests the current script of the Bodo language written in the Devnagri script. The NDFB is primarly comprised of Christians who prefer the Roman script. NDFB have committed scores of incidents of violence like murders, bomb explosions, kidnapping for ransom etc. which have had a serious bearing on the law and order situation of the state. According to the Union Home Ministry's 1996-97 report, a total of 201 persons were killed in Assam between April 1996 and March 1997, 174 which were attributed to the NDFB.

The region north and north-west of the Brahmaputra river is main area of operation of the NDFB. The NDFB is active in Assam's Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Darrang, Barpeta, Dhubri, Nalbari and Sonitpur districts. The Manas National Park which crosses the Bhutan border is used by the group as a sanctionary, allowing the NDFB to cross the border into Bhutan.

The group is estimated to have 3500 members, mainly based in the Myanmar and and Bhutan regions, led by the NDFB 'chairman', Ranjan Daimary or "D R Nabla."

NDFB receives its funding through the "Bhutanese diplomatic bag" to their leadership located in Southeast Asian capitals. The Chin National Liberation Army (CNLA), a militant outfit of Myanmar, is responsible for supplying arms and ammunition to the NDFB.

A yearlong cease-fire pact between the Indian government and a tribal separatist group in the northeastern Assam state began 01 June 2005 amid hopes of ending nearly two decades of violent insurgency in the region. The cease-fire with the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) came into effect with the military calling off its operations against the group. The NDFB cadres will disarm and live in designated camps as per the truce pact. The Indian government and top NDFB leaders signed a cease-fire accord in New Delhi that was expected to bring the curtains down to a violent campaign for a homeland for the Bodo tribe in Assam that left thousands dead since 1986.


History

The Bodos, a major tribe in the State of Assam, have initiated their own form of insurgency to fight against the possession of their tribal land by Bengali settlers and the native Assamese, neglect of the Bodo language, and to express a sense of being exploited. The Bodos, being the earliest settlers in Assam, have cited economic and social neglect by the State government. The first Bodo organisation, the All Bodo Students ' Union (ABSU) was founded in 1967, and the Bodos started demanding a separate state within India towards the later half of the 1980s. In 1988, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) was founded, and it initiated guerrilla war. NDFB was originally established as the Bodo Security Force (BSF) in 1988 under the leadership of Ranjan Daimary. It was later renamed NDFB. 

Objectives


The purported objective of this outfit is to secure a "sovereign Bodoland" in the areas north of the river Brahmaputra. While the other Bodo groups, such as the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), demanded a separate state within Indian territory for the Bodo people, the NDFB wants a separate country for itself. 

The other demand of the NDFB is regarding the script of the Bodo language. Currently the Bodo language is written in Devnagri script; NDFB, whose members are mostly Christians, prefer to use the Roman script.

Strategy


The NDFB was originally founded to protect the interests of the Bodos; but, over the years, this objective has been diluted, and it has joined hands with the ULFA (United Liberation front of Asom), which fights against the non-Assamese domination in the State. Presently, NDFB works in tandem with the ULFA. Sometime in 1999, the ULFA and NDFB formed a coordination committee for launching a united struggle. NDFB has also established a working arrangement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), an insurgent outfit in neighbouring Nagaland. 

Their different objectives have put the NDFB at logger heads with other Bodo outfits such as the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), All Bodo Student 's Union (ABSU) and the Bodo Sahitya Sabha (BSS). As the result of a decision taken on 10 January 2001 in Bhutan, the NDFB decided to target members of the BLT, BSS, ABSU, Bodo People Action Committee (BPAC), and the All Bodo Women 's Welfare Federation (ABWWF), for selective killing. 

The NDFB regularly indulges in acts of insurgency, targeting the symbols of governance and civilians. On 15 September 1998, NDFB insurgents killed fourteen Santhal adivasis (tribals) in Gossaigaon subdivision of Kokrajhar district. At least twelve security forces personnel were killed and ten others injured on 31 July 2000 when suspected NDFB militants triggered a powerful landmine explosion in a train near the Sonmohuri village in Kamrup district. On the next day, on 1 August 2000, NDFB terrorists exploded a bomb on a passenger train killing twelve and injuring several others near Tezpur. On 8 November 2000, eight civilians, including seven from the non-Assamese community were killed by suspected NDFB terrorists. On 25 November 2000, eight woodcutters were killed by NDFB terrorists in the Lung Sung forest reserve. On 21 December 2000 NDFB terrorists targeted Bhutan government vehicles, including a bus, killed two and injured sixteen others in Kokrajhar district. In Bongaigaon district, they set ablaze a Bhutanese police truck carrying rations to that country at Amlaiguri. In another in cident, the ultras set fire to a vehicle going to Bhutan.

In the year 2000, NDFB terrorists were responsible for the deaths of twenty-nine security force personnel and 176 civilians. In the same period, ninety-five NDFB cadres were killed, eighty-three were arrested and hundred surrendered to the authorities. 

It called for a boycott of the Republic Day celebration on 26 January 2001.

Dialogue with the Government


Except for occasional indications to initiate peace talks with the government, probably as a gesture to buy time to replenish its declining resources, the NDFB, unlike the Bodo Liberation Tigers Force (BLT), has still shown no real inclination for peace. 

On 3 April 2000, then Union Minister for Home Affairs, LK Advani, expressed the government's readiness to enter into a dialogue process with the NDFB and ULFA, if they give up violence and agreed to negotiations within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Subsequently, some NDFB leaders met the Army's 4-Corps Commander and expressed their desire to hold peace talks. The Army authorities also decided to provide safe passage to the NDFB leaders to attend the proposed meeting. In May 2000, the head of the counter-insurgency operations in Assam, Lt Gen DB Shekatkar, said that the NDFB had established direct contact with the army commanders for holding peace talks. In March 2001, the PDF demanded that the State government hold unconditional talks with the NDFB. However, this process has not moved beyond such expressions.




Command Structure

NDFB has an estimated strength of 1500 cadres. Its activity revolves around the dictates of its Chairman. It announces its programmes through its publicity secretary. The Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) is believed to be the political front of the NDFB in the State.

External Linkages

On 21 January 2001, Bhutan indicated that it would take army action against the NDFB and ULFA if these outfits do not stop operating from its territory. In one such meeting in Punakha on 16 March 2001, the leaders resolved to safeguard the country's sovereignty.

Local Support

The NDFB is active in the districts of Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Darrang, Barpeta, Dhubri and Sonitpur. It also uses the Manas National Park, an important biodiversity hotspot in South Asia, as a sanctuary.

To garner support, NDFB occasionally promotes high visibility social issues. In February 2001, there were media reports suggesting that the NDFB have set up signboards and banners in and around the Manas reserve forest areas in Assam to save valuable trees from being smuggled out of the region. 

Leadership


Ranjan Daimary is the Chairman of the outfit. Lieutenant B Irakdao is the outfit's self styled publicity secretary.

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