sense of alienation springing from a perceived inequitable developmental process
coupled with its active aiding and abetting by certain forces hostile to the
interests of this country, saw the rise and sustenance of the Kamtapur Liberation
Organization (KLO), operational in North Bengal since December 1995.
KLO demands an independent state carved out of some of the areas of North Bengal
and the state of Assam and has not flinched from using violent means for the
achievement of its objectives. After the Bhutan flush-out, many of the KLO militants
landed in Jalpaiguri correctional homes and a need was felt to evolve a special
programme for their rehabilitation.
a view to responding positively to this situation and reaching the fruits of
development to such persons and such areas, some encouraging steps and endeavours
have been planned under the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY). The RSVY
is an initiative of the Planning Commission of India to address the problems
of high poverty, low growth and poor governance by putting in place programmes
that would accelerate the developmental process. It offers adequate flexibility
to tailor projects and schemes compatible with the socioeconomic and cultural
context of the region.
project document on the RSVY observes, "The district, along with the surrounding
districts is facing a rise in militant activities in the form of the so-called
'Kamtapur Movement'. In the last few years, the militants allegedly belonging
to the KLO have targeted political leaders and school teachers who are very
important in the panchayati raj institutions. If the militant activities gain
ground and engulf more areas in the district or intensify their activities,
it is likely to severely lower the moral (sic) of the panchayati raj institutions,
political activists, and the common public, thereby hampering the developmental
process. In fact, if people get involved with the militant movement, it is likely
to completely derail the development process in the district."
numbers of such militants have over
the years, preferred to join the mainstream
and work towards a constructive living. The local district administration has
planned and organized a couple of initiatives for the estranged youth which
have had a positive impact. As a result, the number of such persons inclined
to lead a normal family life is constantly rising. The panchayati raj institutions
(PRIs) have shown willingness in integrating them into society and in offering
all possible institutional support. For instance, the district administration
of Jalpaiguri created a special programme called 'Mission Nava Disha' to rehabilitate
approximately 1,200 such socially alienated persons (SAPs)/surrendered militants
and bring them into the mainstream. The strategy inter alia included
identification and selection of the SAPs/surrendered militants, organization
of training for reorientation and capacity building, hand-holding support in
the field and actual implementation.
this light, the district regarded the RSVY as an opportunity to offer a constructive
alternative to the SAPs/surrendered militants by channeling their creative energies
towards productive initiatives and activities. The district administration decided
to play the role of a facilitator towards the realization of this goal. The
RSVY components are well within their envisaged scope of serving the requirements
of the SAPs in their rehabilitation. The capacity building inputs have been
well designed and fine tuned to meet their special requirements of firing the
imagination, creating sensitivity and arousing creativity.
'Mission Nav Disha' adopts a multi-pronged approach whereby different agencies
are involved in the design and implementation of the programmes. The Jalpaiguri
police joined hands with the district administration to share the rehabilitation
responsibilities so as to preempt divisive tendencies through constructive,
pro-active measures. The police, as an indispensable law and order instrument,
have a fairly good understanding about the dynamics leading to youth going astray.
They offered to share their experience and learning in orienting the youth towards
adopting constructive development programmes. Other agencies, line departments
and NGOs also joined in with their inputs, expertise and resources.
basic approach here has been to provide a supportive environment for a holistic
development rather than programmatic learning. Many of the socially alienated
youth were married and had children and family to look after. The programme
components also related to supporting their wives, children and parents who
were deemed to be significant for offering emotional anchorage to these militants.
The training was organized under the joint collaboration of the Zilla Parishad,
the District Administration, the District Rural Development Cell, the Jalpaiguri
Police and a local NGO, the Center for the Development of Human Initiatives
about the overall impact of the rehabilitation programme under the RSVY, one
can say with certitude that this was one of the most successfully-run rehabilitation
programme for socially alienated persons anywhere in the country. The whole
Kamtapur movement for the establishment of a separate state comprising some
areas of North Bengal has been almost peacefully brought back to the national
fold and rehabilitated. Similar initiatives need to be developed for other parts
of the country affected by extremist violence.