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Child soldiers | Photo: Representative, Abhijit Sathe, Crime reporter's guide

Maoists issue diktat to tribal schools to list child recruits

|By Sanjay Pandey|

As soon as the five-day campaign against Maoists demanding child recruits came to an end in Gumla, the Ultra-lefts stepped up their activities in primitive tribes’ residential schools with near-impunity as if they were waiting for the police formalities to get over in the Naxal-affected district.

Undeterred by the fear of a similar police campaign against them, the rebels desperate to increase their manpower issued a diktat to the heads of residential schools in Bishunpur, Dumri and Chainpur blocks, asking them to produce a list of 10 probable child recruits from their respective schools.

The rebels have threatened the teachers and the kids alike with dire consequences if they dared to defy their diktat, sending a shiver down the spine of the teaching community and parents alike.

This move by the Maoists has triggered panic amongst children who are fleeing their hostels en masse.

According to local residents, a 150-strong gun-toting Maoists’ squad barged into Bishunpur primitive tribe residential school in Jobeepat and camped there for an hour on Monday.

As the principal was out of station during their unwelcome visit, the rebels asked all the teachers and school children to step out. They shook hands with them apparently to soothe their frayed nerves.

 The rebels then asked the teachers to produce a list of probable child recruits within 10-15 days. Teachers meekly nodded in agreement.

“We don’t want to listen to any excuses. When our man comes after a week, you will have to hand over the list to him. We will let you know when to send the kids to our training camps,”

said the leader of the squad before leaving the premises of the school.

After the local media highlighted the issue, the police swung into action. But as soon as the campaign got over on Monday, the rebels were back with a bang, threatening school administration and children in broad daylight.

All primitive tribe schools, operated by the Department of Welfare, at Jobeepat and Skhuwapani are under the radar of the rebels.

The Maoists have set their eyes on teenage students of Chaurapat High School for girls and Hanlawasiy Dokapat high school for boys with a combined strength of 500.

The police started its campaign on July 17 against rebels in the Gumla and neighbouring Latehar district. As many as 25 companies of paramilitary forces participated in the campaign with the superintendents of police of both the districts leading from the front.

Gumla SP Bhimsen Bishunpur Tuti led campaign ran for three consecutive days. The police force combed the villages, including Auratoli and Banlat, where the rebels were said to be camping, but failed to nab any rebels there.

Jharkhand’s Chief Secretary(CS) Sajal Chakraborty and DGP Rajiv Kumar visited the camp at Peshrar of Lohardaga on July 19. They reviewed the campaign and vowed to continue such operations in the future to curb Maoist menace in the area.

As soon as the CS and the DGP returned to Ranchi, the operation came to an end and personnel engaged in the operation returned to their barracks and camps only to realize later that their hardwork had failed to bear fruit.

The only conclusion that came out of the drive was that the police of both districts admitted that Naxals have taken away 40 kids and killed three villagers who dared to defy their diktat.

“We have no information about Maoists seeking recruits from residential schools. If it is found to be true, we will take necessary action,”

said Deepak Pandey, SDPO, Gumla

The Department of Welfare also feigned ignorance about the Maoists’ diktat.

“There are five schools in the remote areas. It is difficult to contact them. So far none of the teachers have informed us about the Maoists’ fatwa. I shall be able to enlighten you on this once I have authentic information on the same,”

said Gumla DWO Kumari Shukla.

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