Incentives for putting down arms: Govt plans to woo Maoists with cash

 

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has prepared a blueprint to give attractive economic incentives to Maoists to lay down their arms and join the mainstream. According to the MHA’s proposal, each surrendered Maoist will get a onetime package of up to Rs 2.5 lakh, in addition to a monthly stipend of Rs 4,000 for three years. A bonus of up to Rs 25,000 will also be given for depositing sophisticated weapons. The proposal is awaiting clearance from the finance ministry. Currently, the central government gives anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000 to a rebel.

Sources said the increase in the incentives is part of a larger strategy to encourage Maoists to lay down their arms. Left-wing extremism has been the biggest internal security concern in the last few years. The idea behind increasing the amount for weapons is to encourage the rebels to hand over as many arms as possible. “The amount for a big weapon like a sniper rifle or an AK 47 can be as high as Rs 25,000. For smaller weapons like pistols or revolvers, one can get about Rs 5,000.

The more arms they hand over, the better for us,” said an MHA official. This amount is over and above what state governments are offering, the official added. The decision to hike the incentives was taken in view of the fact that the number of surrenders was significantly high in the states that offered Maoists good rehabilitation packages. Andhra Pradesh, which offers the extremists some ‘good deals’ to surrender, recorded the highest number of surrenders in the last two years – 141 in 2010 and 242 in 2011.

The home ministry data reveals that surrenders have been on the rise in the last few years, but a chunk of them took place in Andhra Pradesh. Since 2007, 1680 Maoists have surrendered. While 394 ultras gave up arms last year, 380 have surrendered this year till October 15. “The last two years have been very encouraging. It is clear that the number of surrenders increased because of some of the incentives. We are trying to come up with more such incentives to ensure more surrenders,” said a ministry official.

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