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Maoist forcibly recruiting children: HM
Published on 21 Oct. 2009 12:28 AM IST
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Maoist rebels are forcibly conscripting children in southern Chhattisgarh and exhorting villagers to provide five boys or girls from every village to be recruited into their ranks, the home ministry said Tuesday. “The information reveals the real face of Naxals (Maoists), who not only kill children but also put them in great danger by recruiting them in their armed squads to carry out their violent activities,” a ministry statement said. “The government condemns this despicable act on the part of Naxals and reiterates its commitment to control their diabolical activities.” In 2007, the Chhatisgarh Police were successful in securing the release of two minor girls from their clutches. In a recent report, the international rights body Human Rights Watch (HRW) demanded an end to the use of children under 18 years in the conflict in Chhattisgarh as it places them at risk of injury and death and also violates international law. “The Naxalites recruit children between ages six and twelve into children’s associations called bal sangams, where children are trained in Maoist ideology, used as informers, and taught to fight with non-lethal weapons and sticks,” HRW said in its report released September last year. “Naxalites typically promote children above the age of 12 to other wings - chaitanya natya manch or CNMs (street theatre troupes), sangams (village-level associations), jan militias (armed informers), and dalams (armed squads). In sangams, jan militias, and dalams, Naxalites give children weapons training with rifles and teach them to use different types of explosives including landmines.” HRW said that all parties in the Chhattisgarh conflict have used children in armed operations. The Maoist armed group, admitted that it is their official practice to recruit children above the age of 16 in their forces, and they have used children as young as 12 years in armed operations. Similarly the government-backed Salwa Judum, a vigilante group in Chhattisgarh has also used children in violent attacks against villages as part of their anti-Maoist campaign, HRW said. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), the leading international body monitoring conflict-induced internal displacement worldwide also pointed out that Maoists have recruited children as young as 14 or 15 into armed squads and children between the ages of six and 12 into children’s associations where they are trained in Marxist ideology. IDMC also said the Salwa Judum coerced internally displaced children as young as 12 to participate in meetings and raids along with government security forces. Meanwhile, Armed Maoists killed a police sub-inspector and abducted two others in a daring daylight raid on a police station in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district Tuesday. The rebels also looted money from a nearby bank and left posters demanding the release of a jailed Maoist leader. A group of around 100 left-wing rebels attacked the Sankrail police station under Jhargram sub-division and shot dead the second officer Sub Inspector Dibakar Bhattacharya, who was in his seat, before kidnapping the Officer in Charge Atindranath Dutta and Assistant Sub Inspector Swapan Roy, police sources said. Owning up responsibility for the raid, Koteswar Rao alias Kishanjee, top leader of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) issued a threat to kill any senior police officer of the rank of director general or inspector general if they ventured to the area. “Yes, we conducted the raid. We killed the police officer and abducted the OC. And if the director general or any inspector general rank police officer goes there to free the OC, we will shoot them dead also,” Kishanjee warned. Inspector General of Police (Western Range) Kuldeep Singh confirmed the raid by the rebels. According to police sources, the police were heavily outnumbered in the assault and many fled. The motorcycle-borne Maoists decamped after looting money from a bank close to the police station and pasted posters demanding the release of arrested tribal leader and People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) leader Chhattradhar Mahato. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee convened an emergency high-level meeting at the state secretariat Writers’ Building which was attended by the chief secretary and senior police officials. A large police force has left for the remote spot, but has not been able to reach as Maoists have reportedly planted landmines along the way. Dibakar Bhattacharya is the first police officer to be killed by the ultras after the West Bengal government launched a massive security operation to flush out Maoist rebels from Lalgarh, 200 km west of Kolkata, in June. The Sankrail police station is located to the south of Lalgarh and close to the state’s border with Jharkhand and Orissa.

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