For the first time, seven hardcore Maoists from junglemahal, including slain Kishenji's bodyguard, on Wednesday surrendered with firearms before West Bengal police chief in West Midnapore district.
Director General of police Naparajit Mukherjee, who presented each of the surrendered Maoists with a scarf and a bouquet, said this was the first time that the ultras were surrendering with arms.
All the seven were close to Kishenji at some time or the other before his death in an operation by joint forces last year.
Among the seven arms surrendered were a 5.56 Insas Rifle and .315 and .303 rifles and country-made firearms. The first to surrender was Kishenji's bodyguard Jagannath Soren alias Hero with a 5.56 Insas rifle.
Soren was from Beliagora village in the district. Welcoming the Maoists, Mukherjee appealed to other cadres to return to the mainstream. Police sources said the surrendered cadres were demoralised after the deaths of their leaders in encounters with the security forces in junglemahal.
Siddhu Soren, chief of Sidhu-Kanhu Gana Militia operating in Goaltore belt was killed on July 26, 2010 and Sasdhar Mahato, an accused in the Jnaneswari Express mishap, on March 11, 2011.
Kishenji's killing at Burisolo jungle in the district on November 24 last year came as the biggest blow to them, the sources said.
The last straw was the the surrender of Maoist woman leaders Jagorey Baskey last November and Suchitra Mahato in March to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Banerjee's announcement last year of a rehabilitation package comprising a monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 for three years, opening of a bank account in their names with a fixed deposit of Rs. 1.5 lakh each for Maoists who surrendered finally pushed the ultras to surrender, the sources added.