CHHATTISGARH: The Chhattisgarh Police has carried out a rigorous research survey, one of its kind, in the Maoist-affected district of Dantewada. The main aim was to study the lives of those who were once part of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) under the outlawed CPI (Maoist), before they decided to quit.
Another objective was to prevent youths from tribal communities being recruited to the Maoist cadre.
The study was supervised by Dantewada district police Chief Dr Abhishek Pallava, a 2013-batch IPS officer with an MD (Psychiatry) from AIIMS Delhi in 2009. He chose 41 surrendered senior Maoist cadres, who once carried rewards of over Rs 5 lakh on their heads.Pallava said the survey followed a 10-point criterion to understand the rights, working conditions and dimensions of the contextual mindset of these men and women.
The exercise aims to let the local villagers and the adolescents realise how life exists in the banned extremist organisation; its cruel face, as none of the rights of the cadres assumes any worth before the proclaimed ideology of the CPI (Maoist).The findings based on the survey were startling.
The mean age of recruitment in the outlawed organisation is 15.2 years and most inductees are below 18 years old. Over 70 per cent of the cadres are recruited forcibly. The average age of the rebels taking to arms is 17.5 years and those handed automatic or semi-automatic weapons are 20.6 years. These figures indicate how deadly weapons reach the youngsters.
The survey found that one-fourth of those joining Maoist ranks never visited their home and only 30 per cent had a chance to meet their families once in five years. None of them is allowed to leave the organisation as per their free will. Besides, 30 per cent of rebels felt discrimination between local cadres and outsiders (mainly of Telugu origin).
Based on the findings, Pallava has chalked out a plan for the target population. The survey observations will be broadcasted among the local people mainly in Maoist recruitment hotspots, and pasted in every public place and in the dwellings of those who joined the Maoist group. A hotspot is defined as a place where at least 10 staunch cadres have been recruited in a given duration. The Dantewada police have identified a dozen such PLGA hotspots in Bijapur and Sukma in south Chhattisgarh.
“We got swayed by Maoists. After spending so many years, we realised how unwise our decision was,” said Ista Gopi, Bhadra alias Sudram, Korram Sundari, a surrendered rebel, who participated in the survey. The surrendered rebels were residents of hotspots like Chikpal, Telam and Gumipal.
The recruitment process of Bastar Tigers Special Force has begun in all seven districts of Bastar where local youths are preferred. Nearly 300 are to be selected from each district. “The crucial observations in the survey would help local tribal communities understand the benefits of serving the forces and other government departments,” says Dr Pallava.
“The Maoist organisation does not have any human resource guidelines. The tribal youths can easily infer the reality from the make-believe world of the Maoists. This can ensure a rethink among the young Maoist cadre about their constructive roles in the society”, says Pallava, who is posted in the insurgency-hit districts of Bastar for the five years. “Besides counselling and discussions, the villagers and youth would be informed about the CPI (Maoist) ideology and how it might lead their lives to nothing,” says Dr Pallava.
Post the survey, many gram panchayat sarpanchs have begun advocating for “informed consent” from the parents ahead of any recruitment of their children by the rebels. “The survey has generated awareness as many families underwent many sufferings after their children joined the Maoists. We can now inquire about the welfare or whereabouts of the youths taken away by the rebels,” says Sanmati Telami, Renganar sarpanch.
Dr Abhishek Pallava attenpts to win the confidence of tribal inhabitants as he shares his thoughts and survey findings with them