NEW DELHI: The Centre will shortly examine the J&K government’s revised militant surrender-and-rehabilitation policy that proposes to raise the financial incentive for the surrendering militant to Rs 6 lakh payable after a 10-year lock-in period, from the current Rs 1.5 lakh payable after three years.
Local BJP leaders in J&K had recently objected to the proposed policy, alleging that it stood to “incentivise militants’ and had the potential to sap the morale of troops engaged in fighting terrorism in the Valley state.
Incidentally, it is at the request of the home ministry that the Mehbooba government has redrawn the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy in force since 2004 to bring back local Kashmiris who joined militancy into the mainstream. The existing policy was seen as outdated, particularly as the surrender scheme for insurgents in the relatively peaceful north-east region now offers a Rs 4 lakh incentive, to be put in a fixed deposit for encashing at three years, and a Rs 6,000 stipend per month for up to three years after surrender.
The new policy with improved surrender benefits for militants in six north-eastern states — Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh — was announced in February but took effect from April 1, 2018.
A senior official in the central security establishment pointed out that higher financial benefit of Rs 6 lakh, along with Rs 4,000 interest payable per month to the surrendering J&K militant through the 10-year lock-in period, was in order considering the far higher levels of violence in the state vis a vis north-eastern region. “The involvement of a third country (Pakistan) in sponsoring the violence in J&K further justifies the higher benefits,” said the officer.
Refuting the charge that the better surrender benefits, including an increased reward for each weapon turned in (for instance, giving up an AK-47 would fetch the militants Rs 50,000 instead of the existing Rs 15,000 reward), would bleed the exchequer, an officer argued that militants laying down arms would bring down potential killings, including that of security personnel that involve payment of handsome ex-gratia amounts.
“There are an estimated 150 local militants in the Valley. Obviously, not all will surrender. Only those willing to respond to appeals from their families to return, may step forward. Better terms of surrender will only facilitate this decision. Even if 10 militants were to surrender, it would mean lesser potential to create violence in J&K. While the extent of success of the new policy in terms of number of surrenders will only be known with time, having it in place will send out the message that the Centre and J&K government want to reach out to the ‘misguided’ youth,” said an officer.
Sources pointed out that far higher incentives are offered to Maoists, especially ones carrying huge rewards on their heads, when they surrender. “The norm is that if the surrendering Maoist leader has a reward declared for his arrest, the same would be handed to him. So the reservations of some to Rs 6 lakh benefit for J&K militants engaged in higher, sustained violence, may not be justified,” said an officer of the central security establishment.