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Bodo accord to bring Narendra Modi to Assam for first time since anti-CAA protests began

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Kokrajhar on Friday to attend an event to celebrate the signing of the Bodo Accord.

Mr. Modi thus will be able to do what a previous Prime Minister from the BJP, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, could not. The second Bodo Accord, signed in 2003, led to the creation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), but Vajpayee, considered its catalyst, could not attend the ceremony to mark its formal signing that year. The first accord, signed in 1993, was considered toothless.

Mr. Modi’s visit will be the first to Assam since protests erupted against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act last year. His summit with his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, in December in Guwahati was cancelled because of the protests, while he skipped the inaugural programme of the Khelo India Youth Games in January, notwithstanding an invitation from the BJP-led State government.

The protests have been minimal in the four districts of western and north-central Assam that make up the BTC. The Prime Minister, officials said, is unlikely to face any protests or black-flag demonstrations, which have dogged the visits of other BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, to other parts of the State.

Security forces have, however, intensified vigil in Kokrajhar after two improvised explosive devices were recovered 225 km to the west of Guwahati, barely 48 hours ahead of Mr. Modi’s scheduled visit.

Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) G.P. Singh said the IEDs were detected based on the statement of an arrested member of the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent, headed by the elusive Paresh Baruah.

In a tweet around midnight on Wednesday, Mr. Singh said: “@GhtyCityPolice has made significant recovery of IEDs from Panbazar and Paltanbazar area. These were planted by ULFA to vitiate the peaceful environment in the State. We remain alert to evil designs of nefarious elements.”

Leaders of the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) said volunteers of the union and other civil society organisations have been assisting the administration to ensure a smooth celebration of the signing of the third Bodo Peace Accord.

The ABSU was a signatory to the third accord in January along with three factions of the extremist National Democratic Front of Boroland and the United Bodo People’s Organisation.

The students’ union insisted that the PM’s visit was not poll-oriented. The elections to the BTC are due later this year while the Assembly election in Assam is a little more than a year away.

“It is nothing but a celebration of a historic accord by the entire Bodo society,” ABSU president Promod Boro asserted. “We are expecting more than 5 lakh people for the PM’s programme that is expected to trigger a slew of developmental projects in the Bodoland areas,” he added.

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