India

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/68/878–S/2014/339) issued on 15 May 2014.

The recruitment and use of children, as young as 6 years of age, by Maoist armed groups in India, also known as Naxalites, continued in 2013. Although no disaggregated data on the number of children associated with armed groups in India was available to the United Nations, independent estimates indicate that at least 2,500 children are associated with armed groups in Naxal-affected areas. Notably, Naxalite recruitment also continued to affect girls and women. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, boys and girls between 6 and 12 years of age were recruited into specific children’s units (called bal dasta and bal sangham) in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha States. The children were used as spies and for fighting with crude weapons, such as sticks. At the age of 12, children associated with Naxalites are reportedly transferred to age-specific units and receive military training in weapons handling and the use of improvised explosive devices. According to Government sources, children also continued to be placed in front of combat units as human shields. In Naxalite recruitment campaigns, targeting poor communities, parents are forced to offer boys and girls to the armed groups under the threat of violence, including killing and torture. Similarly, children are reportedly threatened with the killing of family members should they escape or surrender to security forces.

The recruitment and use of children remains to be criminalized by law. Of particular concern were several reports on the treatment of children allegedly associated with armed groups. As the Indian National Commission for Protection of Child Rights stated in its “Protocols for police and armed forces in contact with children in areas of civil unrest”, children arrested under security legislation are often detained with adults, not tried through the juvenile justice system and deprived of their right to due process of law.

Although no disaggregated data on children killed or maimed in clashes between Maoist armed groups and Government security forces were available, at least 257 civilians, 101 security forces elements and 97 Naxalite members were killed in 2013 in 998 incidents. Taking into account the use of children as human shields by the Naxalites, the United Nations is concerned about the killing and maiming of children in hostilities.

The reported presence of girls within Naxalite ranks also raises concerns regarding sexual violence against children. According to the Government, based on statements of several women formerly associated with Naxalite groups, sexual violence, including rape and other forms of abuse, is a practice in some Naxalite camps.

Attacks on schools by Naxalites have continued to affect access by children to education in affected areas. Three schools were reportedly attacked by Naxalites in 2013. For example, on 15 June, up to 50 Naxalite fighters attacked and blew up a middle school in Bhulsumia village, Bihar. In that regard, continued reports on the military use of schools as barracks and bases or the deployment of Government security forces in the vicinity of schools remained a concern. For example, in an incident in Latehar district, Jharkhand, on 16 March, approximately 20 Naxalite fighters reportedly attacked a school, beat up teachers and destroyed a boundary wall under construction. Last, according to some reports, schools in Chhattisgarh were also used for the recruitment of schoolchildren by armed groups.