RAIPUR: For surrendered CPI-Maoist cadres, Aadhaar is just not merely 12 digits. It means a new life. The document establishes their identity as bonafide citizens — something which was not possible during their days as outlaws.
Under the special initiative Lon Varratu-2, the former rebels are enrolled for Aadhaar by the Dantewada police and district administration, to facilitate them avail the benefits of ration card, bank account, smart health card, voter identity card among others. It does not end there. They are now being administered Covid vaccines, thanks to their Aadhaar.
In Dantewada district, 375 Maoists had surrendered after seeing the success of ‘Lon Varratu’ (in local tribal Gondi dialect meaning return to your home/village) campaign which was launched a year ago. There are 454 surrendered rebels listed in the district since 2019 to be covered under the ongoing Lon Varratu-2.
“It gives a feel of being a part of the mainstream and living a dignified life. We are now entitled to receive government benefits too,” said Sukhnath Potam, a resident of Narayanpur and former Maoist who got his first vaccine dose.
“Now, my family has MNREGS job card, thanks to Aadhaar,” said Mata Kawasi from Bijapur. The project apparently works on the dictum that with the Aadhaar card issued by UIDAI, no one should be deprived of the benefits associated with it.
“Based in the conflict zone, their situation is different from among the millions of Indians who initially didn’t have any reliable or recognised identity documentation. Aadhaar is the first form of legitimate identity which the surrendered rebels will now acquire under Lon Varratu-2,” said Abhishek Pallava, Dantewada district police chief.
A few months ago, Dantewada police carried out a feedback survey from the surrendered Maoists in the villages. “We found not even 25 of the 454 rebels who surrendered since 2019 had Aadhaar. They remain deprived of various beneficial services and welfare programmes. So we launched Lon Varratu-2 from May 31,” the SP added.
The ongoing initiative so far has facilitated 139 Aadhaar cards, 100 ration cards, 135 voter identity cards and 129 bank accounts for the surrendered Maoists. The Bastar police hope such initiatives will encourage other Maoists to surrender and help them return to the mainstream.