A total of 55 surrendered Naxals who had dozens of murder and arson cases registered against them have fared very well in an examination on Gandhi’s life and principles conducted by Gadchiroli police.
In an effort to reform prisoners, the Maharashtra jail authorities conduct classes on Gandhian philosophy with the help of NGOs in most prisons. After these classes, it holds the Gandhi Peace Exams to gauge the prisoners’ understanding of the philosophy. The exercise would help them in drifting away from violence.
Speaking on the endeavour, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Special Operations, Bipin Bihari said the surrendered Naxals were given lectures on Gandhian philosophy and an exam on the same was conducted in the month of August.
“Naxalites are waging a war against the state and we are trying to stimulate an ideology which shuns violence and preaches non-violence,” Bihari told The Indian Express.
“In order to draw the cadre to the Naxal fold, they are made to believe that armed revolution is the most effective solution. However, by introducing the Gandhian philosophy we are trying to instill the idea that demands could be met through non-violent means or ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) which Gandhi preached and practised,” Bihari added.
As part of the exercise, a Pune-based NGO in collaboration with Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal conducted classes for surrendered Naxals who are housed in a colony in Gadchiroli.
In August, an exam was conducted and results were declared. Interestingly, all the 55 surrendered naxals who participated in the exercise passed.
“The first test was relatively simple, where candidates were asked basic questions on Gandhi’s life and his teachings. There would be another exam in October-November, slightly tougher,” Bihari said.
The batch that passed the August exam is being given lectures on the same subject but with more details and they would be quizzed on the same during their next exams in October or November.
However, the exercise is not incentive-based. Another official who spoke on condition of anonymity said they deliberately didn’t link the exams to any incentive as it would not achieve the purpose it had been conceptualised for.
“If we link it to any monetary gain or any other incentive, then the real core of instilling the idea within the rescued cadre will be lost as they will learn and appear for the exam only for gaining some money or other incentives,” explained the official.