Maoists Now Recruiting Children: Preparing For A War?

Posted on April 22, 2011 in Specials

By Nitum Jain:

The Intelligence Bureau reassures that the Maoist problem is being curbed and the violence perpetrated by them has reduced by 65% and the killing rate has dropped by 78% as compared to past years. The question that looms over the country is: Are they really giving up or is this is just the calm before the storm?

It seems that the Maoists are forming garrisons and thus are gung-ho about their recruitment process. Their energies have been momentarily diverted to expanding the network to new areas such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in southern India.

Earlier, the Maoists had made the plan in 2004 Urban Perspective Document to generate support among students and the unemployed youths in small towns and cities. There have also been several incidents of forceful recruitment where children were kidnapped from their schools and made to join, and villages were demanded specific number of men to be provided under the threat of razing the entire region. The United Nations has displayed great concern over the situation.

“They have said that children were used only as messengers and informers but have admitted that children were provided with training to use non-lethal and lethal weapons including landmines,” the UN report said.

Another source of manpower for the group is the involvement of students from Universities and colleges and a number of NGOs who accommodate the Maoists.

Keeping aside the kidnappings, their mode of recruitment is actually a very systematic and well-thought-out process. It starts with regular ‘familiarisation’ visits to the targeted villages and question around about their grievances and disputes. The targets are usually small remote villages where there is a lack of government administration, thus making it much vulnerable so that the rebels gain control and gain a firm foothold. The second stage starts with the Maoists solving the problems of the locals, gaining a way to their hearts.

“If, say, an epidemic like malaria breaks out, the Maoists are the first to reach there with medicines,” says a local police officer. Being the ‘sympathisers’ to the distressed poverty-stricken villagers, the Maoists often find it very easy to enlist them in their ranks. The young, sadly, prove to be the most gullible targets where they are brainwashed into believing that they are doing an honourable service to their country and their people.

These sympathizers are first made to do small jobs like transporting materials for the rebels or sometimes made to commit small offences like blocking roads and vandalizing government buildings. The aim here is to make them fugitives from the law so that they have no one but the Maoists to turn to.

If the recruit shows promise then he is inducted into ‘dalam’ or local guerrilla squad (comprising up to 15 members each), trained to handle weapons, and made to commit a major offence. “From the time of his indoctrination, it would be two years before a recruit is allowed to commit a major offence,” says IG Santosh Mehra.

Maoists have also entered the field of digital media; they have already set up their own intelligence division in several urban centers. Some security officials have disclosed that the rebels have framed an internet-based campaign to garner fresh blood. Nine websites have been discovered by intelligent agencies that are pro-Maoists, like “Naxal Revolution”, “People’s march” etc, many of which have been shut down due to government interference.

The urban centers still persist where these Maoists send emails to potential recruits to enquire about heir qualification and background. The question often put forward to them is what they can give to the movement.

Readers would be forced to think, why would someone willing join such a violent movement where we frequently come across news of scores of policemen gunned down ruthlessly by these rebels? Ask the same question to the provoked village boy who wouldn’t hesitate to take a knife to the government, a system which never cared. Its stops being all black and white when you are neglected so much that survival becomes a task; for them joining the rebellion become an outlet, no matter right or wrong, to show you how they feel. Not to forget, couple that with politicizing of the entire situation.

The writer is the Sub-Editor of Youth Ki Awaaz and a student of English from University of Delhi.