The Chhattisgarh police has given a local twist to a rehabilitation plan to ensure ‘ghar wapsi’ of Maoist militants in insurgency-hit Dantewada in Bastar division.
“To give a local flavour to the government’s Maoist rehabilitation scheme, last month we launched a campaign called Lon Varratu, which in local tribal language means ‘come back home’,” said inspector general (IG), Bastar Range Sundarraj P, who is spearheading the campaign in the area.
Since the launch of the campaign on June 26, 58 militants have laid down arms to join the mainstream.
The targeted rehabilitation programme aims at ensuring the return of at least 500 Maoists to the mainstream society by the end of this year.
Under the package, a cash incentive ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 crore is given to a surrendered insurgent based on his or her profile.
“If a surrendered Maoist is a top gun such as the central committee or politburo member of the banned outfit, then the government provides a financial package of Rs 1 crore,” the IG told The Federal over phone.
No ultra so far claimed the jackpot of Rs 1 crore as Chhattisgarh mainly provides foot-soldiers to the Maoists, while the top leaderships are mostly from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The money is, however, not immediately handed over after an ultra surrenders. “Activities of the surrendered ultra are monitored for a certain period and only after it is established the person is no longer involved in any unscrupulous activities, the amount is transferred into the bank account as a fixed deposit for three years,” Sundarraj said.
The “Lon Varratu” campaign was launched after the police conducting a village-to-village survey in the Dantewada area prepared a list of Maoists who are at large. The campaign aimed at bringing them all back to the mainstream.
The details of these Maoists are compiled by a team of Dantewada district police led by its chief Abhishek Pallava.
The addresses of the Maoists, their position in the organisation, the rewards they carry on their head, the weapons they possess and other details are made public with an appeal to them to come back home.
For a better local connect, police from last year started teaching the personnel deployed in the district the Gondi, the language of Gonds who predominate the district.
“Local Maoists are responding to our initiatives. Disenchanted with Maoist ideologies many of them have surrendered and we are hopeful many more will come over ground in coming days,” the IGP added.
Sources said the COVID-19 pandemic is also taking a toll on the ultras.
The IGP, however, said it is difficult to ascertain the impact of the virus on the Maoists, but recently the outfit released a woman cadre suspecting her of suffering from Covid-19.
After getting the information of her return to her village home in Bijapur district, police got her tested. She was found to be negative for COVID-19, but positive for tuberculosis.
The cadre, identified as Sumitra Chepa (32), was suffering from fever, cold and cough. She was an active member of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) battalion No. 1.