I write this post especially keeping in mind Ms. Arundhati Roy (and all the like minded) who has championed the cause of Naxals more than they have ever did for themselves.
If you have read my last two posts and seen the movie “Blood Diamond”, you can very well guess the trajectory of this post too. What i am about to highlight will surprise you if not shock you. The kingpins of the Naxalite movement have slowly realized that, a grown up and mature cadet is now tough to find. So, what do they do instead? They cultivate their own soldiers!!
They are the maoist’s most blood thirsty soldiers of the revolution, absolutely faithful to the cause. And they should have been in school right now. They are the ‘child soldiers’ recruited by the maoists in the Red belt across Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand. What was a trend in africa is now a trend in India by the separatists. While many of these impressionable children have been lured by the gun and the power it wields, others have been plucked from their families forcibly and are trained in handling arms, planting IEDs and making bombs. According to the police and other sources, about 3000 children of the age group 6-16, incducted into the maoist ranks in the rebel ridden districts of west midnapore, Purulia and Bankura in west bengal over the last year alone. Across the entire red belt, the police claims the number of child soldiers to be 15,000 but my gut feeling says it a lot more than that. Initially these kids are non-combatants and are taken into folds of what is commonly known as, ‘bal Sangam’, ‘Bal Mandal’, ‘Balak Sangha’ and in the case of Bengal ‘Shishu Sangha’ groups. once in this group, the child is brain washed- indoctrinated in maoist ideology that inculcates a deep hatred for class enemies.
These children are encouraged and taught to act as spies not only on the police or the security forces but also on their own family members. National News papers and magazines have time and again reported this trend. Read a report in TOI on 18th June. As a senior officer at Midnapore quotes to Open Magazine,
There was this case of a 10-year-old kid in a ‘shishu sangha’ reporting on his maternal uncle’s conversations at home criticising Maoists. His uncle, a CPM branch committee secretary, Shambhu Mahato, owned a small cigarette and paan kiosk at Salboni near Lalgarh. Soon enough (on 14 September last year), a group of ten teenagers, all members of a Maoist hit squad, gunned him down in his shop. We got to know about this after the arrest of one of the killers, 18-year-old Sudarshan Murmu, a few months ago.
The kids are told that such spying is necessary for the cause of the revolution. In this way the Maoists can keep a track on what the village is thinking, talking or planning. Slightest hint of betrayal invites crushing blows for the villagers. So much for a democracy!
These kids after being inducted at an age of 6 are polished in maoist ideology till they turn 12. After that, depending on their aptitude, they are sent to various wings of the organization, be it Dalam (Armed Wing) or the Natya Mandal (Street Play to evoke passion and support). The children after being inducted into a Dalam take an oath:
I have no family anymore. The dalam is my family.
After this hardening of resolve since childhood, their remains no doubt in police claims that these kids are much more trigger-happy than the adults in Maoist Militia and People’s Guerrilla Liberation army (PGLA). After the 24th feb attack on Eastern Frontier rifles camp at Silda in East Midnapore in which 24 Jawans were killed, 3 teenagers were caught. Police interrogations reveal that They don’t actually understand the Maoist ideology but the thrill to kill an uniformed officer and the increase in stature in the eyes of their batchmates & trainers is a catalyst.
Its not that the Maoists recruit only by force. Many youngsters come to them on their own. When a group of arm-wielding rebels come to a village and hold the zamindaar to twist him according to their will, these kids start hero-worshiping them. Sometimes, personal vendetta plays a primary role in the recruitment. Consider the case of 14-year-old Sushil Hansda, prime accused in the killing of Kartick Mahato, who was a teacher at a school in Salboni in West Midnapore on 14 September last year. Hansda was a student of the school till he dropped out of class 6 and became a red recruit two years ago. He had a grudge against the teacher because he had been spanked by him a couple of times. So when Mahto’s name popped up on hitlist for being a CPM supporter, Hansda volunteered to kill him!
The worst part is, these child soldiers are scarred beyond redemption. It then becomes a tough task for the armed forces to deal with them as being children, force cannot be justified and as terrorists the lack of, can be even more serious.
“De-inducting them from the ideology of violence and gore, and bringing them back to normal life, would be a nearly impossible proposition,” says Kolkata’s prominent consultant psychiatrist Siladitya Ray.
And the most gory part of this tale is the way in which the Maoist leaders justify their ways in which they rape innocent children of their childhood. Ganpathy, the supreme commander of -in-chief of the CPI (Maoist) says,
“Making a fuss over age makes no meaning in a situation where the enemies of the people are targeting children too without any mercy. If the boys and girls do not resist with arms, they will be eliminated completely. The intellectuals of civil society should understand this and not raise idealistic objections (to recruitment of children).”
Ms. Roy, please listen to him. I believe, he is talking to you and your intellectual friends! Are you still proud to stand on that side of line??? I guess you are… But You won’t be when your son is snatched from you to wage a false war in which his death is a certainty.
[Image credit: www.sierraeye.net & indianvanguard.wordpress.com]