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Picking up guns and then enjoying wondrous sops!

GUWAHATI, May 15: Scripting peace sagas with militants in the Northeast, a hotbed of militancy, is becoming costlier by the day with rebels not as willing to lay down arms as before to join the mainstream of society.

The tendency of militants in the Northeast shying away from surrendering has made the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) raise the monetary grant to make it more lucrative by revising its surrender-cum-rehabilitation scheme that has been effective in the region, barring Mizoram and Sikkim, since January 1, 1998. The revised scheme is effective from April 1, 2018.

The immediate monetary grant amount for a surrendering militant, according to the revised scheme, is Rs 4 lakh which is to be kept in fixed deposit for a period of three years in his/her name. The money can be utilized as collateral security/margin money against loan to be availed by a militant from banks for self-employment.

The sops also include a stipend of Rs 6,000 per month to each surrendered militant for a period of three years, incentives for weapons/ammunition surrendered by him/her, vocational training for his/her self-employment, funds for construction of rehabilitation camps, and reimbursement of 90 per cent of the total expenditure incurred on rehabilitation under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme for NE States.

Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura have as many as 16 militant organizations that have been declared ‘unlawful associations’. While Manipur alone has eight banned organizations, Assam has three – United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO).

The MHA had to make monetary offer for surrender more lucrative for militants in the Northeast with the trend of surrender showing a falling trend since 2012. According to the MHA, in the past five years from 2012 to 2017, as many as 3,306 militants of different rebel groups surrendered in the Northeast. However, only 130 militants of different groups surrendered in the region in 2017 as against 1,161 militants in 2012. The picture is no different when Assam is singled out. In 2017, only 13 militants surrendered in the State as against 757 in 2012.