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Lottery for Recruiting Child Soldiers in The Maoist Army

Maoists claim lottery is an “unbiased” method for recruiting children.

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File picture of Naxalites posing with bows and arrows during a rally. (Photo: Reuters)

Maoists have long boasted of their bal dastas or child soldiers, who according to them have volunteered to join their fight against security forces, or are gifted by their parents.

However, the guerillas have now initiated a new recruitment process to fill in the gaps within the diminishing army. A public lottery is held in villages with names of the villagers’ children written on chits, reports the Hindustan Times. This, according to the Maoists, is an “unbiased” method for recruiting children, as parents aren’t ready to “gift” their children over to the rebel force.

In the past, Maoist leaders have denied recruiting child soldiers. “We never arm a child below 16,” rebel group spokesperson Deenbandhu had said in an interview. But villagers say the rebel leaders ask every family with more than one child to voluntarily spare at least one and threaten they will be taken away through lotteries otherwise. Sources told HT the Maoists have suddenly upped their recruitment drive for child soldiers in Jamti, Borha, Nirashi, Kumari, Rehaldag and Katia.
Hindustan Times Report

Maoists have also been accused of abducting children every year, but mostly for low-risk jobs – training them in computers and technology. Adolescent teenagers are hardly seen in Maoist-affected villages.

Parents too live in trepidation of losing their young children. According to Hindustan Times, 38-year-old Fandu Munda, from Gumla town said that Maoist leader Sylvester forcibly took his daughter Sanjeet and trained her into a guerilla fighter when she was barely 11.

Six years later when she abandoned the rebel outfit to start life afresh, they accused her of being a police informer and killed her.
Fandu Munda to Hindustan Times

Out of fear, the villagers never filed a complaint in the police station about the forceful recruitment and as a result, the police have no records of any child soldier.

Although the villagers have demanded permanent police camps in villages to tackle the situation, a public school teacher said:

The police come like guests and go. We are left at the mercy of the Maoists. Challenging their decision invites punishment hence I have driven my husband and children away to a nearby town and stay alone here.

Read the full story on Hindustan Times.

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