New Delhi: Tribal children in Jharkhand are continued to be misled by the red rebels to strengthen their numbers and to use them as human shields.
In Pathari village of Lohardaga district in Jharkhand, which remains a stronghold of Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), a Naxal outfit, school going children remain their main target.
The villagers disclosed that TPC cadres compel the children aged 13-14 years-old to join their outfit and strengthen their cadres.
The red rebels also exploit them as human shields against security forces and use them to transfer their consignments.
Ganesh Lal, a villager, confirmed the truth by saying: "The Naxals are targeting children as they can be easily influenced to join the outfits. There are many instances where rebels are recruiting children to prepare them for anti-national activities".
Poor villagers who have seen their children being snatched away are reluctant to lodge any complaint with the police.
They fear they will be attacked by the Naxals.
There are several other villages in Jharkhand where villagers are victims of Naxal atrocities. In Mahuatand village of Latehar district, the rebels have ordered each family to offer one teenager for their cause.
Experts believe that illiteracy and poverty have forced many villagers to silently follow the orders of the Naxals.
"The Naxals offer a monthly income and food to the poor children and their families to convince them that what they are doing is in their favour. It is highly condemnable. These children should be in schools. However, will these Naxals let their kids join their outfits? I don't think so. Even Naxals are not allowing their children to be part of their movement and are sending them for studies, said Kishore Kumar Verma, an expert on Naxal affairs.
Naxal outfits in various states across India are increasingly using minors, some of them as young as six years, to swell its ranks.
These minors are groomed and trained in camps in Naxal-dominated jungles and hence assigned different roles.
At the age where they are supposed to get education, these innocent minds are being trapped by Naxals and their ideology.
For last few years, Naxal violence has been considered a grave threat to India's internal security.
And, poor tribal villagers remain their prime targets.