500 Child Soldiers In Northeast, J&K: Report

500 Child Soldiers In Northeast, J&K: Report

9 May 2013
Times of India
Prabin Kalita

Guwahati: The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its report, 'India's Child Soldiers', released on Thursday, said at least 3,000 children are members of militant outfits and 500 of them are in the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir. ACHR director Suhas Chakma, said, 'The recruitment of child soldiers by armed groups, including Naxalites, is rampant and at least 3,000 children, i.e. 500 in the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir and about 2,500 in Naxal-affected states, currently remain involved in armed conflicts. This estimate is conservative considering that the Maoists follow a policy of forcibly recruiting at least one cadre from each adivasi family.' This report, which is the first-ever comprehensive study on the subject in the country, has accused the Centre of defending the records of the armed opposition groups, officially designated as terrorist groups, on the recruitment of child soldiers before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. 'India, in its first report to the UN Committee in 2011 on the implementation of the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict stated that there is no recruitment of child soldiers even by the armed groups in India,' the report states. The ACHR has provided 11 cases of forcible recruitment of child soldiers by armed groups and a number of photographs of child soldiers surrendering their arms to the then home minister P Chidambaram and Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi in 2011 and 2012. 'This position of the Centre is not only bizarre but also a case where it 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 for the recruitment of child soldiers, a war crime under the international law,' Chakma said. The ACHR has urged the Centre to inquire as to why the recruitment of child soldiers by terror groups was concealed from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and take appropriate action against the officials who had effectively whitewashed the records of the armed groups on the recruitment of child soldiers.