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From Hit Jobs To IT Posts, Former Manipur Militants Come A Long Way

NEW DELHI, Nov 22: It was a first of its kind mass program to rehabilitate surrendered militants, and it involved not just giving them technical or vocational skills for jobs but also imparting them behavioral and soft skills to help them adjust in states away from home ‘” taking some to even positions in reputed companies.

A group of 128 youths belonging to the Kangleipak Communist Party (Lallumba faction) in Manipur undertook the 90-day behavioral, spiritual and technical training program at Triveni, an ashram in Markal village near Pune that began on August 16. Several are now placed with reputed companies or are in the process of being recruited.

Five, who got training in computers, have been hired by Tata group company Syntel. Another 33, who took mobile repairing as their subject during training, have been absorbed by Ever Electronics, an LG vendor. LG itself, besides Hitachi and Kirloskar, has evinced interest in recruiting some others.

The program was a Union Ministry of Home Affairs initiative to successfully absorb the 128 youths in mainstream society. Several of those who surrendered were leaders of the group, who decided to give up arms disillusioned by the violence.

With Union Home Minister P Chidambaram taking personal interest in making the rehabilitation program work, the National Skills Development Corporation, a public-private partnership under the Finance Ministry, took up the responsibility of working out the logistics. The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DONER) funded the program, amounting to Rs 300 per day per militant.

Encouraged by its success, the ministry now plans to have more surrendered militants undergo similar programs. It also hopes that others will be encouraged by the program’s success to give up the path of violence.

Among the KCP militants who underwent the program were 12 hardened members, comprising its leadership and all in their late 20s or early 30s. Rest of the cadres was mostly in their teens or early 20s. The 128 had surrendered in March following tripartite talks between the Centre, state and the KCP (Lallumba faction). ‘The terms of surrender included a compensation of about Rs 3 lakh per person,’ Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary (North East), MHA, told The Indian Express. Besides, they were promised a stipend during the training period.

It wasn’t quite easy to get the youths on board even after their formal surrender. The first time, after all the arrangements had been made to take them for training by train, the group suddenly refused to board. Finally, the group, which included spouses of four militants and their three infants, were handed over to the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-founded International Association for Human Values (IAHV) by the MHA on August 6.

Escorted by security forces, they were brought from Manipur to Dimapur, the nearest railway station, in Nagaland.

The spiritual and behavioral aspects of the training were provided by the IAHV and the vocational training in trades such as information and computer technology, electrical, and AC, refrigeration and mobile repairing, by the Kohinoor Technical Training Institute. Trainers at the ashram had to also deal with addiction.

The IAHV later got them to Guwahati, where they were lodged for about three days. On the insistence of the leaders, exclusive coaches were booked at much higher costs for the 128 surrendered militants to take them to Mumbai, and then on by chartered buses to Pune.

Despite all this, the authorities ran into a problem. Many of the youths had undertaken such long train and bus travel for the first time in their lives, and fell sick.

Once the youths had settled in though, everything else fell into place. Sources said that when they were in the Army camp, they would escape in spite of the best security cover. Here, they stayed on.

*Reported by P. Vaidyanathan Iyer.

(Courtesy: Indian Express)


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