January 3, 2009

Maoists confess using children

Kolkata, December 31, 2008 : For the first time, the Maoists have claimed that they are indeed using children in their army schools and using them as "ears and eyes" of the revolutionaries. In a booklet, Salwa Julum and its Aftermath, a Maoist publication, which has reached India Today, the segment on children reads: "They (the children) learn to read and write, sing revolutionary songs, and often become the ears and eyes of the party in the villages."
The booklet, which has been published by Radical Publications, Kolkata, is not freely available but distributed among cadres and sympathisers. It reads: "One of the major changes that are observable is the self-confidence of the children. They are organised into Bal Sangams and take up tasks that help them develop their initiative and leadership qualities from a very young age." The booklet is silent on whether the Maoists are also building a Kishore Vahini as reported in some newspapers.

Lately, the Maoists have recruited a spokesman, 52-year-old Gour Chakraborty, who has started briefing the press. However, he has not come out with any dramatic pronouncements yet.

The booklet says, "Often the children inform the party of any person misbehaving or acting wrongly...As they develop into youth, they become party persons and effective guerrilla fighters."

"Earlier they had no existence whatsoever, toiling day and night in household work, sick, ill-fed and neglected. The media propagates these children as Naxalite targets." Countering this, the booklet says the minimum age to enter the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army is 16..."but the media fails to say about their pitiful existence."

The 87-page booklet has list of women rape victims, a separate chapter on atrocities on women and what the women should do to counter such actions of the security forces. It also has a list of 131 people killed by policemen in the Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand areas.

State government sources said that they had nothing to comment upon since none of the victims were of West Bengal. However, some NGOs have already taken this up with the UN chapter of Children and Armed Conflict.

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