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Maoists setting up bal militia

Posted by Indian Vanguard on June 2, 2007

SAMBALPUR: The reported presence of 10 to 12 children with Maoists in Kisinda village where they distributed leaflets on Thursday night has only confirmed their indoctrination into militancy.  Called Bal Militia, children are lured into the military wing and trained in handling arms. In school uniform these children are then used by the ultras to target unsuspecting policemen.

Though increasing use of child soldiers has been reported from neighbouring Chhattisgarh, it is for the first time that the disturbing fact has been acknowledged in the region.  Besides fighting alongside their grown up comrades, many are indirectly involved and are used as decoys, or to spot movement of security forces, ammunition transport, for money laundering and cooking.

Two years back, Birsa Munda, just 15, surrendered in Sundargarh district and is now under the care of the police after it was feared that the Naxals operating from the Saranda forest would kidnap him..  A couple of months later, another girl Kanduri Lohar alias Madhuri surrendered. While police continue to underplay use of children and deny the growing sway of Maoists in villages, there is no denying the fact that their number is steadily growing.

There are two reasons for induction of children, explains Dr. Rajat Kujur, who has done extensive research on Maoism. These are socio-economic and strategic.

Curiosity, poverty, lack of education and opportunities, livelihood insecurity push children into joining the ultras. This apart, he says Naxalites draw heavily from the LTTE which has a large cadre of child soldiers. Since use of children has been tested successfully by the Tamil Tigers in their strategy, the Naxals are also banking upon children heavily.

The closing down of EGS (Education Guarantee Scheme) centres in Naxal infested areas is hitting job growth in villages and has come as a boon for the radicals.

According to District Project Co-ordinator Manoj Kumar Mohanty, 234 EGS centres have been closed in Sambalpur district and more are facing closure. In Deogarh district, 219 out 276 centres were closed down over the past few months. If the recent trend is any indication, unless the government revives the centres, the radicals will continue to hold sway.



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