New Delhi, Oct. 26: The government has hit upon what it believes is the perfect incentive for Maoist cadres to surrender: free surgery to enable them to father children.
The Union home ministry has advised the nine Maoist-affected states to facilitate and foot the bill for vasovasostomy (reverse vasectomy) operations on surrendered rebels if they want one.
Interrogation of surrendered and arrested guerrillas has revealed that the CPI (Maoist) leadership resorts to forced sterilisation of lower-rung cadres — mostly tribals — to “foreclose their option of alternative family life away from the Maoist fold”, government sources said.
Even when the Maoists allow a male and a female cadre to marry, they set the precondition of vasectomy for the groom — usually done by local quacks — to pre-empt the possibility of parental attachments in the future. No such requirement applies to the senior rebel leaders.
Vasovasostomies need micro-surgery and magnification instruments that are available only in advanced hospitals, and the average cost in a private hospital is around Rs 50,000, said Calcutta-based urologist Dr P.K. Mishra, a member of the Urological Society of India.
“The procedure is successful among young patients and may not work if, say, more than four years have elapsed after the vasectomy,” Dr Mishra said over the phone.
The government has been encouraged by recent vasovasostomies on two surrendered Maoists in Chhattisgarh. As the security forces continue to wrest back Maoist “liberated zones”, the government is looking to show its softer side to the tribal cadres.
It has told the nine states that no rehabilitation is complete if the Maoist cadres cannot return to normal family life and have children. It believes that facilitating the cadres’ return to family life will reduce the temptation for them to return to the jungles.
“There is an urgent need to increase awareness and communicate to the Maoist cadres through the government machinery and NGOs that vasectomy is reversible. This may motivate them to leave the Maoist fold, join the mainstream and start a normal family life,” the home ministry advisory says.
Many Maoist cadres feel aggrieved at their forced vasectomy but most, being illiterate, do not realise that the surgery is reversible, government sources said.
Some of those who know this have surrendered in recent years — especially in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand — precisely because they want to raise a family, they added.
This year, seven guerrillas surrendered in Kanker, Chhattisgarh, over their forced sterilisation, the sources claimed.
The government has conceded that it has not “seriously addressed” the matter till now and has asked the states to give it immediate and sensitive attention.
It has told the states that the sterilised cadres are generally reluctant to disclose their condition because of misconceptions and the societal stigma attached.
State and district administrations should therefore ensure “the issue is addressed with sensitivity”, the advisory says.
The states have been told not to reveal the names and addresses of the Maoists who avail themselves of the option.