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Salary bait for rebel surrender

Ranchi, Oct. 29: Shaken by the Giridih carnage, chief minister Madhu Koda today said the much-awaited surrender policy would be announced within a month.

“The extremists who surrender will get a monthly salary besides the one-time package,” he said.

Koda said the policy adopted in 2002 by the then government of Babulal Marandi, whose son Anup was among the 19 gunned down by the Maoists on Saturday, was not in tune with the times. It did not spell out an adequate package to wean away the rebels, he pointed out.

The chief minister, whose government is under considerable pressure following the spate of Naxalite killings, said the surrender policy would be backed by stringent police action. “A proposal is under consideration to appoint a ‘supercop’ from outside the state as security adviser. We will soon take such a decision to check the growing Naxalite menace,” he said.

Asked why the rebels would lay down arms simply for the sake of money, when they earn crores (an estimated Rs 320 crore every year) through levy, Koda said: “They might be earning mega-bucks, but they don’t enjoy a peaceful life. Otherwise also, an extremist does not survive beyond 10 to 15 years. So, the government would ensure them peace as well as livelihood.”

“If the Maoists are still not convinced, they would no longer feel safe in doing the business of levy,” he said.

There are about 8,000 rebels active in the state, including 3,500 described as “hardcore”. About 200 Maoists had surrendered after the creation of the state in November 2000.

The chief minister, however, did not agree that the police were not combating the rebels in an effective way under political pressure. “At least, the intelligence wing had not submitted me any report suggesting that the Maoists were enjoying the support of MPs and MLAs,” he said.

Koda backed the district police chiefs but admitted that the morale of the force needed a lift. “It is wrong to say that the SPs are incompetent. The extremists are the ones who have no system. They are not bound by any principle. They are solely in the business of killing innocents to collect levy. Their talks on development are an act of fraud in order to fool the public,” he said.

“On the other hand, the police have to act under a manual. The morale of the police needs a boost,” he added.

Police officers, however, said the force was locked in an uneven war with the extremists. “They are highly motivated and strike with a long-term plan. The police are demotivated,” said a senior official.

They pointed out that the Maoists, in February this year, had decided to develop Jharkhand along with Bihar and Chhattisgarh into a base area after facing reversals in Andhra Pradesh. They even announced their plan through their mouthpiece “People’s March”. But eight months was not enough for the Jharkhand government to prepare a plan to counter them, said the officer.

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