The one-week ceasefire offered by the state government to Naxalites has raised hopes oftheir surrender and fears of their escape.
The order came when the Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) had cornered at least two of four groups in Belthangady and Sullia taluks of Dakshina Kannada district and was making efforts to locate their bases in Sringeri in Chikkamagalur district and Shankaranarayana-Hebri in Udupi district.
While the question whether or not it is a sane decision to offer ceasefire and suspend combing operations is still being debated in government circles, Naxal sympathisers welcomed the decision.
“After all, they belonged to our own state and they were also bona fide citizens of this country. They might have been misled by forces and ideologies alien to this country. By extending a hand of help, the government of Karnataka has given them a chance to return to the mainstream,” said activists of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
The surrender package offered to Naxalites has done more good to individuals who have surrendered, said a former activist Krishna. “I surrendered earlier this year and the government gave me two acres of land in Shimoga city. I’ve also begun my own business through which I am earning my livelihood. All clearances to set up my business were given over the counter by the government authorities. I’m happy that I laid down arms,” he told DNA over phone from Shimoga.
Government functionaries, however, feel that if Naxalites surrender, they have to undergo some degree of punishments as per the law of the land.
Organising armed movements against the established sovereign nation, threatening farmers and forest dwellers at gun point and misleading youth with alien ideologies is nothing short of crime against the nation, said Abhishek Goyal, superintendent of police, Dakshina Kannada.
“So even if they surrender, they have to face punishment according to the charges. However,the government might tone down the degree of punishment” he said.
Sources in the ANF said that in Subramanya combing operations, they got definite leads into camps and routes used by Naxalites. “But after the combing ceased on Saturday, we have lost them. But it is only a matter of time we come across them again, if not here, in Hassan district,” the sources said.
There are only 35 to 40 Naxalites in the state divided in four groups. One of the most active groups is the one under the leadership of Vikram Gowda operating in the borders of Chikkamagalur and Udupi districts.
The police and the ANF are keeping their fingers crossed over the surrender pact, ANF chief Alok Kumar said. “There is one week’s time for them to surrender as per the ceasefire norms. If they don’t, we’ll ask the government for permission to resume combing,” he said.