Maoists using children as informers and messengers: HRW



New Delhi: The use of children as informers and messengers by Maoists is one of the major areas of concern as it is a violation of human rights, said Meenakshi Ganguly, the south Asia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Extensively travelling in the Naxal affected areas and speaking to dozens of local activists, lawyers and journalists, Ganguly told PTI that she believed the situation was quite serious for children living in these parts of the country.

"It is very serious. The Maoists use children, they recruit children...Their argument is that they indoctrinate children and then use them in combats after they are sixteen", Ganguly said.

"We believe children who are used as informers and messengers or carriers, porters are being used in combat. We oppose that", she said.

After her organisation had reported it, Ganguly said, "the maoists printed a retaliation of our claims saying that children were interested in their own future so they want to join the fight".

"They felt the need to try and give their side of the story, but as far as we are concerned they are recruiting children which is a human rights violation," she said.

Ganguly, whose report for Human Rights Watch titled "Between Two Sets of Guns: Attacks on Civil Society Activists in India’s Maoist Conflict" would soon be released, also said that people who can bring progress to these areas were also caught in the cross-fire between the two sides.

"In the day-to-life Maoists threaten them, and that is a threat which any day could lead to a beheading because the Maoists have a 'jan-adalat' which summarily leads to death." Ganguly said.

"The threat from the other side is defamation. If someone becomes an activist and you repeatedly tell them that you are anti-state his spirit is broken. Then he or she is threatened that you are criticising us and sending this message to Delhi, we'll fix you under a murder charge," she added.

PTI