Authorities in the state of Bihar, a stronghold of Maoist fighters in eastern India, have launched a two-pronged strategy to keep the armed group in check - intensifying the hunt to capture its members while simultaneously offering big money for those who surrender.

The Bihar government strategy follows close on the heels of the killing of eight policemen on Tuesday by suspected Maoists in Aurangabad district, 163km from the provincial capital Patna.

On Wednesday, the Bihar police set out on a massive hunt for those responsible for the killings in two powerful landmine explosions.

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Meanwhile, the state government led by chief minister Nitish Kumar announced a new surrender and rehabilitation policy for the rebels, who belong to the Communist Party of India (Maoists), media reports said.

Top leaders would get Rs 2.5 lakh ($4000) if they renounced arms. This would include members of the state, regional, central committee and politbureau of the Maoist party. The offer is a huge jump from the 2001 policy which promised Rs 10000 ($160) first and Rs 3000 ($50) in due course.

An official of the state cabinet coordination committee was quoted by the media as saying that those surrendering would be paid more if they laid down more arms and ammunition.

In the last two months, 15 people including security forces and civilians, have been killed in Aurangabad in fighting.

The Maoists, who have been fighting for a Communist state for several decades, are mainly active in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar and Bengal.

Source: Al Jazeera