Raktima Bose

KOLKATA: The West Bengal government is mulling over a comprehensive rehabilitation package for Maoists wishing to return to the mainstream.

The proposal, prepared by senior police officials posted in the strife-torn areas, is “broadly based on the tried and tested surrender and rehabilitation policies offered by the other Maoist-affected States,” Director-General of Police Bhupinder Singh told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The package would include a lump sum monetary incentive to the surrendering rebel depending on his or her position in the outfit, imparting vocational training or employing him, and educating his children.

This proposal, however, is not the first of its kind. An earlier draft surrender and rehabilitation policy submitted to the government did not see the light of day.

Though Mr. Singh said the current proposal was “under consideration” by the government, he could not provide a timeline.

Feelers

A senior police official, engaged in anti-Maoist security operations, said: “While working on the field, we have often received feelers from the arrested Maoists that they would have given up their militant ways had there been any incentive package for them. Since such decisions have to be taken risking their lives [as the leadership does not approve of cadres quitting], it is obvious that even the disillusioned cadres prefer to stay back with the rebels to surrendering.”

The Andhra Pradesh government first successfully implemented a surrender and rehabilitation scheme. Alongside carrying out intensive, intelligence-based combing operations, it offered the surrender-rehabilitation policy to those Maoists willing to give up arms.

Almost similar schemes were adopted by the governments in Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand with varying degrees of success.

Chhattisgarh Home Secretary, N.K. Aswal, said over telephone from Raipur,: “Apart from compensating them [the rebels] for surrendered arms and paying for their children's education through scholarships and finding them employment under several government schemes, we consider withdrawing pending criminal cases or writing off old loans. There are district-level committees, headed by district magistrates, which oversee surrenders and payment.”

The Jharkhand government offers an even more lucrative package that includes a grant for undertaking vocational training courses, financial assistance for the marriage of the surrendered Naxals' daughters and a one-time family insurance worth Rs. 5 lakh.

“Introduced in 2008, the scheme is fairly successful in our State. We approach the Maoists lodged in jail with the scheme and convince them and also take the help of the NGOs which can spread the word at a local level. ,” Home Secretary J.B. Tubid said on the phone from Ranchi.