The Union home ministry has asked the states not to release hardcore Maoists facing murder charges if faced with a hostage situation.
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Monday announced that the Centre had finally formulated the standard operating procedure to be followed while dealing with hostage situations in areas affected by left-wing extremism.
However, Shinde did not elaborate on the new policy.
The home ministry had begun working on the policy after the 2011 abduction of Vineel Krishna, the then-collector of Odisha’s Malkangiri district.
The final policy gives the states some leeway to negotiate with Maoists but bars the release of hardcore armed guerrillas who face murder charges or are serving prison terms for murder.
Last year, finance minister P Chidambaram, who was then home minister, had rejected a policy of no-negotiation with Maoist abductors on grounds that it was not practical.
Instead, the Centre has asked states battling against Maoist insurgency to fast-track the setting up of special forces, which could be immediately deployed for operations in such cases.
A standing offer to request deployment of the Black Cat commandos of the National Security Guard has also been made in case specific intelligence inputs were available to conduct operations.
There has been a rise in the incidents of Maoists abducting government functionaries in order to secure the release of their cadres and sympathisers.
However, it is not just the government that has hardened its stance.
In a message to Maoist cadres this year, the guerrilla leadership had asked them to exercise discretion in the selection of hostages and only take those hostages “who would get the government to surrender.”
The Maoist leadership also advised the cadres not to get involved in prolonged negotiations and to kill the hostages if the government’s stance was clearly unfavourable.