KOZHIKODE: On June 5, three Maoists - Suresh, Kanyakumari and Chenamma - who have been operating in Nilambur forests in Kerala, surrendered before the Karnataka government. They opted to surrender there as the Karnataka government has a comprehensive surrender policy while Kerala has yet to formulate one. Now, this is only partly true.
The state police involved in the anti-Maoist operations did prepare a surrender policy in April 2017 and send it to the state Home Department. Forest areas in Wayanad, Malappuram, Kannur and Palakkad have been the principal operational zones for Maoists in the state. It is the state police department’s contention that fighting Left Wing Extremism (LWE) without a surrender policy will not yield the desired results.
Though many from the LWE cadre are ready to give up arms, the state government’s drive against the insurgents will not see fruition unless it acts on the policy that’s awaiting clearance for the past two months, it is widely felt. On being asked why there was such a long delay, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Subrata Biswas told Express he was yet to get an official communication on such a policy for dealing with Maoists in the state.
Former DGP Jacob Punnoose agreed it was good to have a surrender policy as the police will then be armed with an official instrument to make the insurgents surrender. “The police need to confirm how many Kerala natives are in the LWE group as a surrender policy will come in handy only if there are more locals. Basically, Maoist cadre from other states operate in Kerala,” he said.
An internal security assessment conducted by the state police, following the November 2016 Nilambur encounter that claimed the lives of two Maoists, had identified nearly 100 from the LWE operating in Kerala. Many among them were ready to give up arms if there was a provision to officially accept their surrender and rehabilitate them.
In the first quarter of 2017, a surrender policy was prepared to offer the insurgents a window to shun anti-national activities. “We have identified nearly 100 Maoist activists, including senior cadre who belong to the state. Chasing them and finishing them off in encounters is not a sustainable solution. We should give them an option to surrender and it will help the police to contain the activities of LWE,” admitted a senior police officer involved in combating the Maoists.
The state’s draft surrender policy
It highlights the need to rehabilitate surrendered Maoists. Apart from offering a one-time surrender fund and a stipend for three years, it moots a support scheme. The police have also apprised the government of the need to announce rewards on those Maoists against whom several cases have been pending.