Other States

Assam seeks more dole for ex-militants, Centre in a fix

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s demand to increase the monthly stipend of surrendered militants has put the Union government in a fix because it thinks obliging the BJP-ruled State could lead to similar requests from other north-eastern States as well.

The newly elected Chief Minister, at a recent meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, asked that the stipend be increased from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 10,000.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reimburses the amount paid to the surrendered cadres by the State government under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme.

The MHA also reimburses the cost incurred on maintenance of designated camps for insurgent groups.

Assam has suspension of operations agreements going with 13 insurgent groups, which include the ULFA (Pro-Talk), the NDFB (Progressive), and the NDFB (RD) among others.

The number of cadres living in the camps run for the various insurgent groups is around 12,000. The Government has been in talks with some of these groups for over 14 years.

Other States such as Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura also have similar agreements with 10 other insurgent groups.

“If we increase the stipend for surrendered militants in one State, we will have to amend the rules in other States such as Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura. The demand for increase in stipend is steep and it will be a huge burden on the exchequer,” a senior Home Ministry official said.

In 2015-16, the MHA released Rs. 280 crore from SRE funds for Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. Of this Rs. 140 crore was released to Assam alone.

Hike in dole will be a burden: MHA official

The funds released also included expenditure incurred by the States on various security-related items, logistics provided to the CAPFs/Army deployed in the State, and 75 per cent of the expenditure incurred on petrol, oil and lubricants (POL) in operations.

Another Home Ministry official said that although a BJP-ruled State has made the demand, various factors, including financial implications, would have to be considered. Minister of State (Home) Kiren Rijiju said in the Rajya Sabha recently: “There are certain designated camps for these insurgent groups in Assam where cadres of insurgent groups under suspension of operation live. Details of these designated camps and strength of these camps are not being shared because of the sensitivity of the information which has a bearing on the security situation in the State.” He also added that during the period of suspension of operations, each cadre of the insurgent groups who lives in the designated camp is given Rs. 3,000 for camp maintenance.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 7:08:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Assam-seeks-more-dole-for-ex-militants-Centre-in-a-fix/article14570143.ece

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