National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)
An outfit named Bodo Security Force
(BdSF), under the leadership of Ranjan Daimary, was formed on October
3, 1986. On November 25, 1994, the BdSF rechristened itself as the National
Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
The NDFB was formed with the purported objective of securing a ‘sovereign Bodoland’ in the areas north of the river Brahmaputra. According to the ‘constitution’ of the outfit, which was adopted on March 10, 1998, nearly twelve years after its formation, the objectives of the outfit are the following.
Another significant demand of the NDFB concerns the script of the Bodo language. Currently, the Bodo language is written in Devnagri script; NDFB, whose members are mostly Christians and prefer to use the Roman script.
The outfit, on December 15, 2008, indicated that it will take part "indirectly or directly" in the forthcoming elections to the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament).
On December 15, 2008, the NDFB, held its general assembly meeting at Serfanguri designated camp in Kokrajhar District and elected B. Sungthagra alias Dhiren Boro as the new President of the outfit. B. Sungthagra was previously the vice-President of the outfit. He had been arrested in Gangtok, capital of the State of Sikkim on January 1, 2003 and was released this year. He replaced Ranjan Daimary alias D R Nabla, who is based in Bangladesh. While security agencies described the election as a split in the organisation, NDFB sources denied any such development.
B Swmkhwr alias Govinda Basumatary is the outfit's General Secretary. He had been arrested on November 25, 2002 and has been released. B. Sanjarang is NDFB's publicity secretary and B. Benga its 'Speaker'. Finance secretary, Nileswar Basumatary alias B J Jabda had surrendered to the Assam Police authorities in Guwahati on March 17, 2004. He too has been released. NDFB's 'deputy commander-in-chief', Bijoy Boro, was arrested in Bangkok during July 2004 and was subsequently deported to India. At present he is under the custody of the Assam Police.
The 'publicity secretary', 'Lieutenant' B Irakdao is reported to be missing following the Bhutanese military operations in December 2003. On June 5, 2004, Bhutan handed over the head of the NDFB's 'central headquarters', Lt. B Udang alias Udang K R Brahma to the Indian authorities.
Areas of Operation
During its active days, the areas in the north and north-west of the river Brahmaputra in Assam formed the main expanse of operation of the outfit. The NDFB was active in the Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Darrang, Barpeta, Dhubri, Nalbari and Sonitpur districts. It was also known to be active in the Garo hills region of Meghalaya, close to the Assam-Meghalaya border.
Before the outfit announced a unilateral ceasefire with the Security Forces in 2004, its activities were reported from Nalbari, Barpeta, Dhubri, Sonitpur, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Chirang and Karbi Anglong Districts.
Prior to the military operations in Bhutan in December 2003, the strength of Bodoland Army, the armed wing of the NDFB, was estimated to be around 3500. Most of its cadres were based in the 12 camps located in southern Bhutan. However, a large number of cadres either surrendered or were arrested during and after the operations. The strength of the outfit, was then estimated at about 2000. Prior to the declaration of ceasefire with the Security Forces, most NDFB cadres were based in the outfit’s camps in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Additionally, there were several temporary camps in different locations of Arunachal Pradesh and in the Garo hills region of Meghalaya.
At present, the NDFB cadres are located within the three designated camps set up in Assam following the May 2005 tri-partite agreement. A number of cadres live in their native villages complaining of inadequate facilities within the camps.
Arms and Ammunition
The NDFB cadres, during their operations, had access to sophisticated arms and ammunition. They were found to be using AK Series rifles, light machine guns, M-16 rifles, rocket propelled grenades, mortars and Chinese-make grenades. Many of the NDFB cadres are trained in making and planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The NDFB acts in collaboration with the ULFA. Authorities in Assam blamed the outfit to have acted in cooperation with the ULFA to carry out the October 2008 serial explosions in the State.
In addition, the NDFB shares a close relationship with the other outfits like the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K). Unconfirmed reports also suggest linkages between the Maoists of Nepal and the NDFB.
According to a list submitted by the Indian authorities to their counterparts in Bangladesh, the NDFB maintains at least two camps in the Khagrachari and Tangail districts of that country.
Prior to its dislodgment from Bhutan, the outfit was reported to have established working relationship with certain elements in Bhutan. Several Bhutanese officials were reported to have visited the training camps located inside Bhutan and have been alleged to openly aiding the NDFB cadres.
NDFB, along with the ULFA, on various occasions was found to be allegedly channelling its funds through the "Bhutanese diplomatic bag" to their leaders based in Southeast Asian capitals.
The Chin National Liberation Army (CNLA), a militant outfit of Myanmar, has also supplied arms and ammunition to the NDFB in the past.
Negotiations for Peace
The NDFB, on October 8, 2004, announced a six-month long unilateral ceasefire with effect from October 15. The move was not reciprocated by the Government and security force operations continued against the outfit, amidst threats of a pull out by the outfit. At the end of the cease-fire period, the outfit further extended the truce on April 15. Meanwhile, the Assam Government released Govinda Basumatary, the arrested general secretary, to open a channel of communication with the outfit's top leadership reportedly based in Bangladesh. Several parleys between the outfit's leadership and representatives of the Union Government and Government of Assam were held in different parts of the State and New Delhi. It resulted in the signing of a tripartite ceasefire agreement on May 25, 2005, at New Delhi. The ceasefire agreement, since, has been periodically extended, although formal peace talks are yet to begin.