The release of a district collector in Chhattisgarh, who had been kidnapped by Maoists, has led to calls for a “national policy” on hostages. Such a policy is unlikely to work.
Given the current political climate in India, even if such a policy were to be adopted, there will be no will to implement it, unless—of course—the option is to exchange kidnapped persons with criminals. Most states adopt this path of political least resistance.
That, however, is not the only problem. Hostage-taking situations can vary tremendously. Political conditions, geographic terrain, states’ capability to maintain law and order, and stomach for tough decisions vary a great deal. A uniform, countrywide policy is likely to create more problems than solutions. Policies don’t exist in a vacuum. Maoists are sure to react in a dynamic fashion to such a policy by exploiting its weaknesses.