The National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)
The National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) is a secessionist ethnic insurgent organization demanding an independent state for the Bodo ethnic group in Assam. Formed on October 3, 1986, and led by Chairman Ranjan Daimary, this is one of the most dreaded outfits of Northeast India and one that shared close ties with the ULFA. The group's strength has dwindled since the 2003 operations in Bhutan. The NDFB also suffered serious setbacks with the arrests of senior leaders. The group indulged in hit and run operations on security forces, explosions in public places and have targeted innocent people. The organization is allegedly supported by the ISI of Pakistan, and as of 2005 was believed to have bases in Bangladesh, Burma, and perhaps still a lingering presence in Bhutan.
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.
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.
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.
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 indulged 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.
Cadres of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) (Songbijit) group, a breakaway faction of NDFB (Rajan Daimari) group, had stopped a bus on 17 January 2014 at Athiabari under Serfanguri Police Station under Kokrajhar district of Assam and dragged out nine persons from the bus and opened indiscriminate fire upon them and as a result, five of them died on the spot and three sustained injuries. During the last five years from 2010-2014 (up to 31st January, 2014) NDFB groups had killed seventy persons in the State of Assam.
Militants launched a fresh round of attacks on 24 December 2014 in the Udalguri district of Assam, northeastern India, raising death toll to 76, the Times of India reported. The previous day, armed separatists of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland attacked Assam, killing 51 people in four attacks in the space of an hour. The Indian government imposed a curfew following the attack and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the shooting. “Killing of innocent people in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar is an act of cowardice,” Modi tweeted. The militants were waging a guerrilla fight for a separate homeland for indigenous Bodo people, as they complain that the tea-growing state has been flooded with outsiders.
National Investigation Agency (NIA), Guwahati on 02 February 2018 filed a second supplementary chargesheet against National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) for the 2014 attack on the Adivasi Community in Shantipur village. The chargesheet was filed in a Special National Investigation Agency Court. In the incident that took place on 25 December 2014, where the National Democratic Front of Bodoland killed 12 villagers and injured three. According to the chargesheet, the killings and injuries were caused due to “indiscriminate firing with sophisticated weapons”. The evidences till date have been collected by the National Investigation Agency on the basis of field investigation as well as technical and forensic reports against the accused persons. The accused terrorists are still absconding, while further investigation is going on in the matter.
A hardcore militant of the anti-talk faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) was gunned down by security forces in Kokrajhar district of Assam, an Army officer said 28 January 2018. Defence spokesman Lt Col Suneet Newton said the incident occurred in Akshiguri area. “A 9mm pistol and some ammunition were seized from the slain cadre, identified as Ricardo Hazuary alias Rekhai.” He said a joint operation was launched in the area by Red Horns Division of the Army and Assam Police following a tip-off.
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.
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.
While the tripartite dialogue with NDFB (Progressive) group was under way, a tripartite suspension of operation agreement was also signed with the NDFB (Ranjan Diamari) group with effect from 29.11.2013. The State Government has strengthened security in the vulnerable areas and also organized village patrol for protection of the vulnerable people by motivating and exhorting the villages. District administrations have been playing an active role in generating peoples’ participation in providing security. Neighborhood peace and protection committees have also been formed to make all out efforts to ensure peace of the vulnerable people in the locality through active participation of the local people. Ten additional companies of Central Armed Police Forces have also been provided to assist the State police in containing militant activities of the NDFB (Songbijit) group.In October 2004, the NDFB declared a ceasefire with the GOI and then extended it for another six months in April 2005. On May 25, a GOI-NDFB truce agreement was signed by Special Secretary in the Union Home Ministry Anil Chaudhary, Assam Home Secretary B K Gohain and NDFB General Secretary Gobinda Basumatary. This agreement came into effect from June 1, 2005. The truce is similar to the one the GOI signed with the Naga outfit NSCN-IM, including the ground-rules of the ceasefire, suspension of operations and signaling the beginning of formal talks. Sources said that the NDFB and GOI had been holding unofficial parleys since April 2005, and the signing of the agreement is only its culmination and formalization.
NDFB has an estimated strength of 1500 cadres. Its activity revolves around the dictates of its Chairman. It announces its programs through its publicity secretary. The Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) is believed to be the political front of the NDFB in the State.
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.
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.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|