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3,000 children engaged in fighting -- report
12/05/2013 | LOC10:48
07:48 GMT
| World News
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
NEW DELHI, May 12, (KUNA) -- Three thousand child soldiers are involved in fighting in Kahsmir and other regions, according to a report freshly released by an Indian human rights center.
"The recruitment of child soldiers by the armed groups including the Naxalites is rampant. At least 3,000 children, 500 in the North East and Jammu and Kashmir and about 2,500 in the Naxal-affected States currently remain involved in armed conflicts," said the report, released by the New Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR).
"This estimate of child soldiers," it says, "is conservative considering that the Maoists follow the policy of forcibly recruiting at least one cadre from each Adivasi (tribal) family." According to Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR, the Government of India, in its first report of 2011, stated that there is no recruitment of child soldiers by the armed groups as "India does not face either international or non-international armed conflict situations".
"This position of India is not only bizarre but also a case where the Government is actually defending the records of the armed groups on recruitment of child soldiers before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
India effectively protected the officially designated 'terror' groups from condemnation of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for the recruitment of child soldiers, a war crime under the international law," he said.
ACHR said in a report that it had submitted to the UNCRC Committee the first ever comprehensive study on the subject.
Chakma added the first periodic report of India will come for preliminary examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child during its 66th pre-session working group to be held in Geneva from 7-11 October 2013, while NGOs are required to submit their reports by July 1, 2013.
Over a dozen Muslim groups are fighting the government soldiers in disputed Kashmir where anti-India feelings remain deep especially since 1989 when the armed rebellion to overthrow pro-Indian government began.
In India's north east, rebels are fighting for independence and greater autonomy in the 71 districts of six states: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura since 1947 when the British left India. In central India, Naxals (Maoists), who are fighting for the greater rights of poor farmers and landless workers, are spread into rural pockets in 20 of India's 28 states and are fighting a brutal guerrilla war with Indian troops since the late 1960s.
The fresh report, however, says government too has involved child soldiers against rebels in many of these states.
"In June 2005, the Salwa Judum, an anti-Naxalite campaign, was launched in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh state with the support of the State government.
Hundreds of members of this group were given full military training as Special Police Officers (SPOs) and many of them were below 18 years as found by ACHR," the report says, adding "The Salwa Judum campaign has been banned by the Supreme Court of India in a judgment dated 5 July 2011.
However, the recruitment of hundreds of SPOs with little regard for minimum age standards continues across the Naxal affected States." ACHR said India's central state of Madhya Pradesh allows recruitment of children below 18 years as "boy orderlies" of the State Police and some 300 such soldiers are working in the state police.
The group urged the government "to inquire as to why the recruitment of child soldiers by the officially designated terror groups was concealed from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child." "There must be appropriate actions against the officials who are effectively ended up whitewashing the records of the armed groups on the recruitment of child soldiers," Chakma demanded. (end) mub.hs KUNA 121048 May 13NNNN
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