PM Modi
PM Modi
Ashok Bhaumik/ PTI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday addressed a rally in Assam's Kokrajhar to attend celebrations marking the recently-signed Bodo peace accord.

Addressing the rally, he said " I have seen a lot of rallies in my political and public life, but I have never seen such a massive crowd."

"This is certainly one of the largest political rallies in India in the post-Independence era," he said

Speaking about the Bodo Peace Accord, Modi said, "There were gunfights for decades. The arrival of peace to Assam is a historic moment. It is a great coincidence that it has happened when the entire country is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi."

"Mahatma Gandhi used to say that whatever we gain from walking on Ahimsa is accepted by everyone. A lot of people from Assam have accepted peace, ahimsa, and democracy. They have placed the Indian Constitution at its rightful place," he said.

"We won't allow the darkness of terrorism to return here. No citizen will not die of violence anymore in this region. Mothers whose children have returned from the wilderness are blessing me today. So many families have been reconciled," he further added.

"Today after decades, the road to the development of people and this region has been empowered. I welcome everyone involved in the Bodoland movement to India's mainstream," he said.

He also said that the government has signed the agreement that will fulfill all the demands. "The Central government, Assam government and people associated with the Bodo movement have signed an Accord that fulfils all demands and development is our main concern hereon," he said.

Modi affirmed that this accord will not only benefit the Bodo people but other societies as well. "According to the Accord, BTC's territorial range has been increased and given more power," he said.

Modi said that under the Accord, Rs 1,500 crore will be given as a special developmental package to help the Bodos. "Every right, culture, language, and development will be ensured. Their protection will be ensured," he said.

Apart from Rs 1,500 crore allocated to help the Bodos, the government is now trying to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. "I want to assure the people of Assam that after the Committee submits its report, the Central Govt will act on it swiftly," he said.

"Earlier, there were about 1000 killings in the Northeast due to extremism but today, on an average, the situation is normal and peaceful," he said.

Modi also went on to say that before the BJP government came to power in 2014, most states in Northeast was under the Armed Forces. "After we came to power, most regions of Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh are free from AFSPA," he said.

Modi's arrived in an Indian Air Force chopper at a makeshift helipad from Guwahati at around 12.45 pm.

He was welcomed by hundreds of Bodo girls who performed the traditional 'Bagurumba' dance.

The rally attended by lakhs of people who started gathering at the venue since early Friday morning.

The state government earlier said it was expecting around four to five lakh people from the four Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) - Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Chirang and Baksa - and other regions.

Kokrajhar has been decked up ahead of Modi's trip with banners, festoons and big hoardings seemingly omnipresent to "thank" him for the peace accord.

"Conveying sincere thanks on behalf of the people of Assam for your efforts to bring lasting peace through historic Bodo Peace Accord," said hoardings put up by the state government.

On Thursday night, 70,000 earthen lamps were lit to enhance the celebratory mood. The Prime Minister shared the visual on his Instagram handle.

On January 27, the Centre and the Assam government inked a peace agreement with representatives of Bodo organisations, attempting to put an end to the decades-old Bodo insurgency based on the demand for carving out a separate state.

The tripartite agreement announced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah provides for the economic and political development of Bodos without affecting the territorial integrity of Assam.

The accord is the third Bodo peace agreement to be signed since 1993. The demand for a separate Bodoland is almost five decades old.

As part of the accord, altogether 1,615 cadres of the three factions of separatist organisation National Democratic Front of Bodoland laid down their arms before Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal last week. They deposited 178 arms and 4,893 pieces of ammunition.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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