Becoming the first state to act on guidelines evolved by the Centre, the Prithviraj Chavan-led Maharashtra government is set to revise its surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy for Naxals.
The government has decided to sweeten the deal for those laying down arms, by proposing a sharp increase in monetary incentives and formulating a rehab package catering to housing, education, employment and protection for the surrendering Naxals. Statistics reveal that about 451 Naxals have surrendered in Maharashtra since August 2005 and in 2013 alone, about 48 Naxals laid down arms.
Earlier, the Union government, which formulated new guidelines for such surrenders in April last year, had directed all Naxal-affected states to design their own policies depending on the scenario on ground. With the Maharashtra cabinet keen to beat the model code of conduct ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls, the state would be the first to act on this directive.
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The new policy proposes a two to three fold increase in monetary incentives for those who lay down arms. This would vary on the basis of their seniority in the Naxal movement. For group surrenders, the state government has proposed much higher incentives than the one proposed in the central guidelines. Stakes have also been substantially raised for surrenders of Naxals who form a part of regional, state and national committees.
Additional cash rewards for those opting to surrender with weapons has also been substantially hiked.
Acknowledging the threat surrendering Naxals face, the policy makes Special Director General (Nagpur) accountable for providing them protection and considering requests for rehabilitation outside the influence zone.
Those without a shelter would be guaranteed one with the revenue department responsible for allotting them land and Rs 1 lakh towards construction to those who are not eligible for the benefit under existing government welfare schemes. The government has also proposed to extend free education for children and access to self-employment opportunities for mainstream Naxals.
Following the Centre’s guidelines to consider withdrawal or ensure speedy trail in cases against surrendering Naxals, the state government has also proposed to a district magistrate-headed panel to review such proposals. Such people would gain access to free legal aid. To ensure that only genuine Naxal elements benefits from the policy, a watch committee, also headed by the district magistrate, will be appointed. Their movement will be kept under watch for at least a year after surrender.
The government has, however, proposed that these benefits would be withdrawn if the person is found to have rejoined the Naxal movement. Also, it has been clarified that the policy won’t be applicable for sympathisers of Naxal movement, and government informers, for whom the government recently revised its reward policy.