Wednesday, April 28, 2010

For Maoists willing to give up guns, Bengal has little to offer

Madhuparna Das Posted online: Thursday , Apr 29, 2010 at 0244 hrs

Kolkata : West Bengal is perhaps the only Maoist-affected state that does not have any rehabilitation policy for ultras desiring to surrender their arms. Even as all other Maoist-affected states in the country have implemented the policy with varying degrees of success, the Left Front government in West Bengal is sitting quiet on a similar proposal submitted by the state police.

DGP Bhupinder Singh said: “All the Maoist-affected states have implemented the rehabilitation and surrender packages in the states. Our neighbouring state of Jharkhand also implemented the policy recently.”

He added: “Our state, however, is yet to consider a similar proposal, a draft of which was submitted to the government two months ago.”

The non-implementation of such a proposal has intrigued state police officers who claim that had there been a rehab policy, a sizeable number of tribal-turned-Maoists would have opted to surrender their guns.

A senior West Bengal Police officer said: “Several people willing to give information about the Maoists have approached us. There are a good number of Maoists who are disillusioned and want to quit.”

He added: “But for quitting and supplying information to the police, they demand security and good financial packages for their family. Since we do not have any such policy, we cannot take them into confidence.”

A senior bureaucrat pointed out: “There may be some ideological hang-ups the Marxist government suffers from while offering such a package to Maoists. Such a possibility cannot be ruled out, considering that the Marxist government has till date not officially banned the outfit.”

Even as political bigwigs contend that economic rehabilitation packages have been tried without much success with the Kamtapur Liberation Organisaton, senior officers cite the examples of states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh where such surrender policies have been successfully implemented.

Jharkhand Home Secretary J B Tubid told The Indian Express over phone: “We had implemented the policy in 2009 and it is quite successful in our state. We have sought help from several NGOs whose members meet the tribals and Maoists, and explain them our policies.”

Tubid added: “We translated our policy guidelines into tribal languages and started distributing leaflets in the villages. The reward money ranges from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 12 lakh, depending on the seniority of cadres. For politburo and central committee members, the reward money is Rs 12 lakh.”

If Maoists surrender on their own, they are given land to construct houses besides the reward money. They are also given vocational training and the government bears the cost of education of their children, if any, said Tubid, adding: “The Maoist is rehabilitated in safe places, most often outside the state. We have probation of pre-bargain agreement between the prosecution and the accused, under which the government considers the cases against the Maoist and can set him free if he helps the police.”

Adding that a considerable number of Maoists have surrendered over the past one year, Tubid said: “A group of 25 armed Maoist cadres approached us yesterday. We are verifying their cases.”

While the Chhattisgarh government implemented the policy in 2004, the Orissa government implemented the same in 2006.

“We have declared Rs 10 lakh per head for the 27 central committee members of the Maoists. For cadres, we have several other schemes, including giving them land and providing assistance in constructing their houses,” said Ram Niwas, ADG, Naxal Operation, Chhattisgarh.

Niwas added: “Besides their being rehabilitated in safe places, criminal cases against them will also be considered if they help police in anti-Maoist operations.”

Orissa IG (Operations) Sanjiv Marik, meanwhile, said: “We have built a data bank based on information provided by the surrendered Maoists. We are now fighting Maoists strategically, instead of combating them by force alone.”

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