Is rewarding Maoists for surrender the right strategy?
The government wants to wean cadres away from the maoists with cash lures. Arms surrender will get them anything between Rs 3-5 lakh. According to a report in The Telegraph, the reward a surrendering personnel of the banned outfit carries on his/her head will got to him/her.
Now, the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policies of states have always carried cash rewards — in Jharkhand a surrendering maoist can get anything between Rs 30,000 to Rs 12 lakh depending on his/her rank in the outfit. However, the latest hike is likely to be adopted by all states.
This begs the question if cash rewards are the right way to go to erode the maoists' ranks. The rebels draw both support and cadres from areas reeling under decades of neglect and underdevelopment. State apathy and atrocities fuel anger and support for the rebels. Spending on governance in these areas is worse than a pittance. So, shouldn't the state, instead of trying to buy the maoists into its fold, focus on spending on improving the lives of the people who are compelled to rebel? After all, with the new cash-for surrender policy, the government is buying back its own guns — most of the maoist arsenal is weapons looted from police stations.
The government needs to step on the gas with a development offensive to check the spread of the maoist ideology. The solution lies in disincentivising joining the outfit, not in offering incentives to quit. Of course, one may argue that only when the swelling ranks are checked can a development strategy be mounted. But, it has to be also appreciated that this way the state is prodding one to pick up a gun only to surrender it later for money.
Quite the chicken-and-egg problem this, but what is your view? Do you think we should pay maoists to lay down guns or prevent sympathisers from taking up one in time? Post your thoughts.