ABUSING CHILDREN

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Oct 2017 12:28:30


 

“Children are one of the most vulnerable sections of Indian society with the least social security cover for them. They are prone and subject to all forms of physical, mental and sexual abuse, including trafficking.”

 

Naxalites and other terror groups need young guns to
carry forward their ‘mission’. These young people can be easily brainwashed, manipulated and better used in strategic situations as they are not easily suspected of serious wrongdoing. The punishment they get if caught is also much less severe than one rewarded to an adult wrongdoer

 

The UN chief has expressed concern over the recruitment of children by separatists and Naxalites, saying they continue to be affected by incidents of violence between armed groups and the government, especially in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir. In his annual report on Children in Armed Conflict, Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the UN continued to receive reports of the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, including the Naxalites, in particular in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

According to government information, at least 30 schools were burned and partially destroyed by armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, government reports confirmed the military use of four schools by security forces in that region for several weeks, the report said. The Maoists were allegedly running several schools in Chhattisgarh and included combat training as part of their curriculum. Armed groups reportedly resorted to abduction and threats against parents in order to recruit children, who subsequently underwent military training and served as messengers, informants or guards in child squads (baldasta).

In March, the police relocated 23 children under threat of abduction by armed groups in Gumla district in Jharkhand and supported their enrolment in schools. However, unverified reports suggest the police may be using as well as to separate and reintegrate recruited children formerly associated with armed groups as informants, potentially making them targets for retaliation.

The UN report expressed concern over reports of the recruitment and use of children, including from madrassas, and by armed groups for suicide bombings. More than 8,000 children have been found killed and maimed in different conflicts in 2016 alone. Guterres urges parties to conflict to abide by their responsibility to protect children, in accordance with their obligation under international humanitarian and human rights law. Children are one of the most vulnerable sections of Indian society with the least social security cover for them. They are prone and subject to all forms of physical, mental and sexual abuse, including trafficking. Poverty, illiteracy and lack of police alacrity contribute in pushing millions of children to untold miseries including death. There is no inclusive and updated police record as to how many children go missing everyday in the country. Most of these children are never found.

Many end up being dead. The poor parents don’t have the resources to locate them and they just leave it to fate. Indian children can easily be caught and used for anti-social activities. Millions of them don’t even have a proper shelter to spend the night in. Juvenile delinquency is on the rise and it is a logical outcome of the situation our children are in. Even in elite and well off homes children are not safe— many of them are subject to sexual abuse by relatives and servants and emotional or psychological abuse even by parents and siblings. Suicides are rising among young adolescents for these reasons. Parents are so busy in their own lives and commitments that children’s priorities take a back seat. These children are easy preys of anti-social elements.

Naxalites and other terror groups need young guns to carry forward their ‘mission’. These young people can be easily brainwashed, manipulated and better used in strategic situations as they are not easily suspected of serious wrongdoing. The punishment they get if caught is also much less severe than one rewarded to an adult wrongdoer. This is why it makes sense to recruit the young. It is also less expensive to maintain them or in other words, their operating cost is lesser. They can be used for other errands too apart from warfare assignments. The availability of the young in the ranks thus provides more flexibility and easy manoeuvrability to the terror outfits. The young are also more paying as long-term investment because they, having the facility of age on their side, can be used for longer tenures and secures the future of the outfits.

An ageing posse of fighters don’t make much strategic sense for any organisation. They need regular infusion of fresh blood to keep things pepped up perennially. With ample availability of poor children around, the task is cut easy for the disruptive elements. They just have to look out and a handful will always be ready to join in. The false sense of glory and achievement easily influences young minds and further draws them to the valour of armed existence.

The best way to keep these children away from the influence of the anti-socials is to broaden the scope of education by enrolling more and more of them in schools. More schools needs to be opened and facilitated so that more students are interested in being a part of the education system. To lure them, students might even be incentivised in cash or kind by the government so that the Maoists and other guerrillas are unable to match the benefits they get being in the mainstream. More job opportunities and diversification of options through skill enhancement programmes will further inspire the young to educate and empower themselves.

When the poor and the young see opportunities knocking at their doors, it will be hard for the guerrillas and terrorists to persuade them away from the possibilities such opportunities promise. Children are our precious resources and they are the future of the nation. It is in our hands how we shape them up. The better we give them, the better we get. We need more attention and involvement from NGOs and government bodies towards children’s welfare.

It has to be accepted that despite all the laws and schemes on paper, our children are a vulnerable and neglected lot. The police need to be sensitised and they have to be much more up and going when it comes to crimes against children. More helpline numbers need to be visible in the public sphere and they must be attended to 24x7 with full professionalism. No laxity must be admitted and accepted. If we have an atmosphere to ensure that the laws are being followed in letter and spirit, many children could be saved from wilting away early.

More shelter homes need to be opened and these homes must be regularly spruced up, checked and updated so that the best facilities of healthcare, counselling and education are available to the children. These measures will open up ways for the stray and wayward youth to better integrate with the mainstream once they go astray for whatever reason.

By the way, parents too must be made more aware about the various government welfare schemes and how their children could benefit from them. Such are the options available with us to stem the open migration of young boys from the civil society to a degenerative world of bloodshed and violence that leads only to darkness. And we must exercise those options to the best of our abilities and possibilities so that we chalk the way for a greater and better India of tomorro.