In strife-torn Assam, outsourcing is the latest line of attack.
A few months ago, the Ulfa contracted out terror, enlisting unemployed youths, needy students and even children to plant bombs for money — a nine-year-old boy was paid Rs 100 to plant explosives in a railway yard at Bongaigaon last month. Now the Assam government's counter-insurgency think tank has followed suit.
The Unified Command — a coordinated body of the state administration, police, army and intelligence agencies — has decided to recruit special police officers (SPO), invariably ex-army and policemen under the Police Act to help the government combat terrorism, particularly in the field of intelligence gathering. The emphasis is more on private concerns and "patriotic" individuals who will be provided monetary incentives. This is in keeping with a move to overhaul counter-insurgency operations in view of the Ulfa's perceived crossover from extremism to terrorism.
The incentives and retainership for the "outsourced corps" of terror combatants is expected to be higher than what the Ulfa is believed to pay its spies, couriers and hired terrorists to carry out subversive operations.
The idea is an extension of the SPO scheme the Tarun Gogoi government had pursued unsuccessfully during its last tenure. Though home officials refused to disclose the number of outsourced warriors the government plans to have, chief secretary S Kabilan said maximum effort would be made to strengthen the security and intelligence network beyond that available with the forces.