In the family way
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MHA's decision to replicate the Chhattisgarh model in all Maoist-affected states is timely
Taking a cue from the Chhattisgarh police's efforts to socially rehabilitate Maoists cadres who have surrendered, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has issued an advisory saying that all Naxal-affected states should facilitate reverse vasectomy operations for Maoists who wish to join the mainstream. The states should bear the medical costs for the operation, which will help such cadres to return to a family life and have children. This is a welcome addition to the government's "surrender and rehabilitation scheme", which works towards the economic rehabilitation of Maoists. So far, the police have only taken up three cases of reverse vasectomy, but many others are enquiring about the possibility of returning to normal life.
Even if marriages are allowed, having a family life after joining the Maoist ranks is forbidden. Marriage ceremonies are mostly arranged in the jungles. If two "comrades" are permitted to marry, they are made to stand and exchange weapons in the presence of a gathering. The bride and groom repeat an oath read out by a senior cadre. This is less an exchange of marriage vows and more a joint declaration to continue waging war against the state. It is detailed in a "hand-book" that also contains war-related instructions and is held sacrosanct by Maoists. Songs are sung, but the couple is not allowed to consummate their marriage that day. The boy is sent to a hospital, or a doctor with Maoist sympathies, or a quack, and is forced to undergo a vasectomy.
One of the three surrendered Maoists, after spending more than 10 years in the jungles of Gadchiroli and West Bastar, recalls that couples were allowed to be intimate with each other once a week, but as soon as his wife's pregnancy became evident to their commander, he ordered her to go to a hospital in Jagdalpur for an abortion. The surrendered cadre was also sent to a hospital for a vasectomy.
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