Coming soon in Chhattisgarh, a village for surrendered Left-leaning extremists that will be a one of-a-kind rehab replete with security, roads, electricity, potable water, school and health care facilities.
The idea to build a protected village solely for former extremists in Kondagaon district, about 220km south of Raipur, was floated after the administration faced the challenge of providing a safe and suitable rehabilitation facility for outlawed CPI(Maoist) cadre who were surrendering in large numbers.
Most of these surrendered rebels can’t go back to their native villages since they could become targets of their former comrades. So far, 170 rebels have surrendered in Kondagaon district. “Initially, 100 Maoists will be settled in the village to be created within 10km of the town,” district police chief JS Vatti said. “They will have access to common day-to-day items and various welfare schemes.”
Warfare experts have praised the initiative, with retired Brigadier BK Ponwar calling it a positive step.
“The most important thing after surrender is proper rehabilitation that should cater to their future requirements. With this approach, an encouraging message will go to the Maoists to join the mainstream,” he said.
Former Maoists in Rajnandgaon welcomed the effort. “We are rehabilitated close to the police line and do mushroom farming for a living. The Kondagaon experiment will lead to a happy, settled life for the surrendered cadre,” said Ganeshwar aka Ravi Uike, a former platoon commander of the CPI(Maoist).
However, activists called the village plan a piecemeal approach. “What about the more than 300,000 tribals displaced from 644 villages of Bastar during the controversial Salwa Judum campaign? Despite the SC order in 2011, the state government has effectively done nothing to trace the displaced tribals,” said Pravin Patel of the Forum for Fast Justice, an NGO.
The Congress also posed a similar question. “We have no issues with rehabilitation through legal ways. But why a separate village? Is the state government going to reflect its hyped achievements through such a village?” asked Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, general secretary of the opposition party’s state unit.