India under UN Security Council scrutiny on children in armed conflicts

United Nations: The UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres released a report, “Children and armed conflict” which was submitted to the UN Security Council yesterday. The report while exploring the impact of armed conflicts on children in India stated that “Children continued to be affected by incidents of violence between armed groups and the Government, in particular in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, as well as tensions in Jammu and Kashmir.”

The UNSG in his report recorded grave violations in India and stated that “The United Nations continued to receive reports of the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, including the Naxalites, in particular in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Owing to access restrictions for monitoring and reporting, the United Nations was unable to verify these incidents. Armed groups reportedly resorted to abduction and threats against parents in order to recruit children, who subsequently underwent military training and served as messengers, informants or guards in child squads (baldasta). In March, the police relocated 23 children under threat of abduction by armed groups in Gumla district, Jharkhand, and supported their enrolment in schools. However, unverified reports suggest that police may be using children formerly associated with armed groups as informants, potentially making them targets for retaliation.”

Citing the report of the Government of India, the UNSG reported “Children continued to be killed and injured in the context of operations of national security forces against Maoist armed groups. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the number of civilians killed in these encounters increased to 213, compared with 171 in 2015; however, no disaggregated data on children were available.”

“According to government information, at least 30 schools were burned and partially destroyed by armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, government reports confirmed the military use of 4 schools by security forces in that region for several weeks. In a troubling development, Maoists were allegedly running several schools in Chhattisgarh and included combat training as part of their curriculum.”

The UN Secretary-General also called upon the Indian government to “develop appropriate mechanisms to protect children from recruitment, as well as to separate and reintegrate recruited children.”

The UNSG also urged the Government to “ensure the protection of children from any form of violence in the context of civil unrest or law and order operations.”

It is important to note that the UN report leaves out hundreds of Kashmir’s children who have been victims of pellet guns. A recent report by Amnesty International has documented such children.

The report also fails to mention the impact of state-imposed curfews on the education of children living in Kashmir Valley.

You can download the report in a PDF format here.

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