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Friday, 10 December, 1999, 19:28 GMT
Concession to Andhra Pradesh rebels

By Omer Farooq in Hyderabad

In the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, the government has offered more concessions to left-wing rebels willing to surrender.

The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, told journalists in Hyderabad that rebels could now surrender to civil officials instead of going to the police.



This concession seems significant since there were reports that some rebels were willing to surrender - but were afraid to do so to the police fearing they would be murdered and their deaths covered up.

The move comes soon after the killing of three top leaders of the outlawed Peoples War Group and the violent reprisals which followed their deaths.

Mr Naidu also announced that the state would rehabilitate surrendered rebels within a month.

He said this deadline would be strictly followed and there would be a monthly review of the rehabilitation process by the state cabinet.

The chief minister said those rebels who lay down arms would be provided with agricultural land or bank loans if they intended to start their own businesses.

More than 5,500 people have died over the last decade in the violence between left-wing rebels, also known here as the Naxalites and the police.

The rebels are waging an armed campaign for the creation of a communist state made up of tribal areas in Andhra Pradesh and three other neighbouring states.

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