New Delhi, May 10 (ANI): Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) has in its latest report titled "India's Child Soldiers", said that Naxals and other insurgent outfits are recruiting children to fulfill their objectives.
According to the report, at least 3,000 children, of which 2,500 are in the Naxal-affected states, are currently involved in armed conflicts.
The Director of ACHR, Suhas Chakma, said it is a massive problem in the country, and added he believes that the figures could be significantly higher.
"It's a massive problem in the country. Especially, in the Naxal-affected areas where the Naxals have a policy of recruiting at least one member from each family. Although we are saying that they are 3000, but I think this is a very conservative estimate.
According to ACHR, the problem is rampant in all insurgency-hit states, and is really bad in the Naxal-affected states.
Because of this practice, not only are the children being denied their rights of education and health care, they are also forcibly dragged into a conflict that has nothing to do with them.
"Across the states where you have insurgency, children are being denied equal opportunities, which the children of rest of the country are getting in terms of healthcare and education. In some areas, parents are even scared to send their children to school," said Chakma.
Article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict states that armed opposition groups should not, under any circumstance, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years.
However, the Naxals in India are forcibly recruiting the children and using them as human shields while fighting against security forces. They also use child recruits to gather information about deployment of troops. (ANI)