Ex-rebels head for meditation courses

GUWAHATI: Dreaded cadres of several militant groups in the state, who have laid down arms to join the peace process, are now heading for prominent meditation centres for ‘spiritual reformation’.

Forest minister Rockybul Hussain, in a reply on behalf of chief minister and home minister Tarun Gogoi in the house on Monday, said 500 surrendered rebels are being taken to the Art of Living Foundation and 260 others to a Vipassana meditation centre in Bengaluru as part of a rehabilitation programme initiated by the state government.

This is the first time since the first batch of Ulfa laid down arms way back in 1992 that the rehabilitation initiative for ex-rebels has been taken beyond soft bank loans, stipends and vocational training.

“We are arranging to take all militants who have laid down arms and returned to the mainstream in 2012 to these meditation centres for spiritual as well as vocational training,” the minister said in his reply to a written question by AGP legislator Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

While at the Art of Living Foundation, the rebels will receive training in attaining strength and responsibility to serve society, besides spiritual awakening, Vipassana, an ancient technique of meditation rediscovered by Gautam Buddha, is the universal remedy for universal ills.

According to Hussain’s reply, under the rehabilitation programme, 463 other ex-rebels have been absorbed in the Assam Police force. “In order to ensure that surrendered militants can lead their life independently, we have been training them through various organizations, apart from giving them land for farming; several agricultural farms run by former militants have come up in the state,” Hussain stated.

In 1992, the state government had arranged for soft bank loans for surrendered militants. In 1998, the Centre introduced the surrender and rehabilitation scheme under which all surrendered militant had to stay in rehabilitation camps and were paid a monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 each for one year. This scheme was modified in 2005 and all surrendered cadres were given aid of Rs 1.5 lakh to start life afresh.

Source: The times of India