Tempt Maoists if you can’t beat them

4 02 2009

Source: INDIA TODAY
If you can’t beat them, join them. Or better still, make them join you!
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram perhaps wants the Jharkhand government to try exactly this by formulating an attractive surrender policy for the Maoists, one which can make the rebels join the mainstream.
So far, almost 100 Naxalites have surrendered in Jharkhand during different regimes. But, in the absence of their proper rehabilitation, the remaining Maoists rebels have shunned the state’s offer.
Chidambaram, who was in Jharkhand recently to review the state’s preparedness against the Naxalites, has suggested Jharkhand to work out its own surrender policy, “as only a state can evolve specific policy keeping in mind its specific geographical and social landscape”.
Obviously, the argument in favour of states preparing their own policies was that a national policy on surrender cannot carry the weight and complication of the extremist problem having local overtones. Chidambaram, however, clarified that the Centre may provide financial assistance to the states.
This was Chidambaram’s first visit to Jharkhand since he became the home minister late last year.

Jharkhand’s history of Naxal violence Click here

In terms of strategic realism, the Centre seems convinced that now was the right time to introduce a surrender policy because unlike 2007-08 when the country witnessed and withstood a sharp rise in extremist activities, the security forces have gained an upper hand in 2008.
“With their back to the wall, the Naxalites may now see some reasons to accept the surrender policy,” said a senior Jharkhand IPS officer.
No wonder Jharkhand officials are busy giving final touches to the draft of a new surrender policy, which they believe would motivate the Maoists rebels to abhor violence and return to the mainstream.
The Jharkhand police headquarters is believed to have supported continuance of hard anti-Naxalite operations to go along with the surrender policy because such policies work only when police are in a position of strength and the Naxalites are on the run.
There are, however, just too many questions over the efficacy of a surrender policy because the “bait” of a fixed monthly salary is unlikely to lure the rebels just because the Naxalites earn crores in the form of “levy”.
According to sources, the new surrender policy draft has borrowed heavily from a similar draft prepared in 2006 but could not be implemented because of serious difference of opinions within the then cabinet under Arjun Munda government.
The policy had then promised extremists cash compensation, reward, land, employment, free housing, healthcare and education, life insurance, monthly stipend, vocational training, fast-track courts, provision to condone sentences, reimbursement for firearms, a mechanism to settle land disputes and financial inducements to villages and NGOs motivating surrender.
Incidentally, the proposed policy has been left hanging by previous governments for quite some time now. The successive governments led by Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren have been dilly-dallying the finalisation.
Beyond surrender policy, Chidambaram was informed that as many as 145 police stations in Jharkhand were located in areas heavily infested by the Maoist rebels. The home minister also issued instructions to set up police stations in 25 blocks of Jharkhand, which do not have any.
The minister’s visit to Jharkhand also assumed special significance since this was one state where Chidambaram’s idea of inter-state join operation against Naxalites has failed to fructify because of a neighbour’s reluctance.
In fact, Chidambaram admitted that the hot-pursuit and barrier-free crackdown on Maoists was being carried out by the police forces of various states except West Bengal, which has not allowed the Jharkhand police to enter its territory. In fact, Jharkhand has lodged a formal complaint with Chidambaram on this issue.
“We told the Union home minister that West Bengal’s reluctance to be part of any joint operation against the ultras has turned out to be a stumbling block in the fight against Naxalism,” said a Jharkhand IPS officer.
The minister has promised to work it out with West Bengal, adding that Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar were already carrying out joint operations.
Earlier on January 7, when Chidambaram had a meeting with chief ministers of all the Maoist-hit states, a consensus was reached on conducting joint operations against the Maoists rebels.
The minister’s maiden visit, however, failed to lift the veil over the fate of Jharkhand’s suspended assembly, as he said it was for the political parties in the state to decide in which direction they wanted to go.
President’s rule was clamped in Jharkhand on January 19 after the UPA alliance partners failed to reach a consensus over Shibu Soren’s successor, as the JMM chief had to resign from the chief minister’s chair following his defeat at the January 8 Tamar bypoll.

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