A United Nations report has accused the Maoists of recruiting children, especially in Chhattisgarh, and indoctrinating them as part of mass mobilisation in the areas affected by left-wing extremism.

“Maoist [Naxalite] armed groups were recruiting and indoctrinating children, and had constituted children’s squads and associations [Bal Dastas, Bal Sangham and Bal Manch] as part of mass mobilisation,” said the 2011 Annual Report of the U.N. Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict titled, ‘Children and armed conflict.’

The information was supported by a 2010 National Commission for Protection of Child Rights report, which indicated that children were being recruited by the Naxals through intimidation and abduction. It said they were used in support roles such as lookouts, messengers, porters and cooks.

However, the UN report cited some special initiatives taken by the government for children in the left-wing extremism-affected areas.

One such initiative, Bal Bandhu, the report said focused on children’s needs such as protection, education, health, nutrition, sanitation and safety aspects through local community participation. It was being implemented in 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.

It also said the Central government, together with affected State governments had undertaken specific actions to conduct awareness programmes through the media, establish new schools under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in all village and ashram schools, and strengthen its Integrated Child Development Services and pre-school education centres in all areas.

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