By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 4: The Congress government's strategy to wean away rural youth from Naxalism after the failure of peace talks seems to have paid off in the past eight months.
As many as 5206 youths in interior and Naxal-infested villages have joined Youth Employment Societies formed by the State government at the district level to check Maoist influence on young minds. Of them, 1174 got jobs in Army, Air Force and BSF, while a few were absorbed in the Home Guards Organisation.
Following the State government's innovative drive, Naxal influence on rural and tribal youth particularly in the backward Telangana region came down considerably. The Naxals could not make new recruitment after the breakdown of the peace process. All the recruitment made by Maoist and Janasakhti Naxalites were only during the ceasefire period between July and December 2004.
"Unemployed youth in Naxal-hit areas can always be potential recruits to Naxal movement. Providing these youth with employment will weaken Maoists as they will not find new recruits. As a policy, we are recruiting more youth as home guards or forest guards on contract basis in disturbed and problematic areas," a senior official told this correspondent.
According to intelligence sources, Maoists and Janasakhti groups together recruited around 1000 rural youths into the Naxal movement. The Naxalite outfits even relaxed their recruitment norms to enrol as many youngsters as possible taking advantage of the ceasefire period. But once the talks process failed, the State government changed its policy deciding to wean away the rural youths from Naxalism through employment and training.
The government also strengthened the scheme of rehabilitation of surrendered extremists. District collectors have been directed to hold review meetings by 7th of every month. They will take up all applications received from surrendered Naxalites by then for financial assistance.
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