Dangerous duty: children and the Chhattisgarh conflict
The authors found that since mid-2005 the Chhattisgarh police have recruited and used an unknown number of children among the more than 3,500 in Dantewada and Bijapur districts of southern Chhattisgarh. Most SPOs are recruited from indigenous tribal communities that have been displaced to Salwa Judum camps. Even after three years of their initial recruitment, the Indian central and Chhattisgarh state governments have yet to develop a rehabilitation scheme for those underage SPOs they have allegedly removed.
The conflict has also prevented many children in affected areas from continuing their education. The havoc of the conflict coupled with the violence unleashed by Salwa Judum members and government security forces has forced some parents to stop sending their children to school. Government security forces have used many school buildings for military purposes, leading Naxalites to destroy many of them in the area. The report estimates that approximately 20 schools have been destroyed by Naxalites.
Recommendations in this report include:
- the Indian central government must develop and implement effective measures to ensure that all individuals recruited for police duties are a minimum of 18 years of age; develop and impose appropriate sanctions against individuals found to be recruiting or using children under age 18, including those using underage former Naxalites as police informers or SPOs
- the Chhattisgarh state government must identify all SPOs under the age of 18 and remove them from service; provide them with appropriate assistance, including alternative education or vocational training
- the Maoist party must release all children and give those recruited before age 18 the option to leave
- the Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict must make a field visit to Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh to assess the impact of the conflict on children and meet with representatives of parties to the conflict regarding their obligations under international law.