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India has no dearth of separatist movement and the one thing they all love to hate is the Indian state , accusing it of all manner of state sponsored terrorism , human right abuse, rape of their women and all manner of other atrocities. It therefore is interesting that in a development reported in NDTV, self righteous underground elements in North Assam , who are supposedly fighting the Indian state so that they can safeguard and protect their own people and culture from the marauding clutches of people in mainland India are using impressionable , young children , often under the influence of drugs to fight their battles. The culprits include well known outfits like the ULFA and the NSCN as well as smaller groups like the UNLF and the PLA. According to the NDTV report , The smallest boys are placed closest to the enemy, because their leaders say they are the most fearless. And when they are not, they are given helpful doses of drugs so that they can overcome whatever inhibitions they may have.
It is detestable indeed that young children are being exposed to death , destruction and violence at such a young and impressionable age and that too by groups who are supposedly the custodians of their peoples’ well being and identity. Instead of creating a climate where in these children can finish their education , have a healthy childhood and then grow up be fulfilled citizens of their home land, they are being indoctrinated to kill , hate and destroy from their earlies years. The ideologues of these groups, mostly ensconced overseas , think nothing of using small children to fight their battles , all in the name of preserving supposedly unspoilt and pristine culture which the Indian state is supposedly destroying.
The consequences for society are obviously devastating. If the child soldier does survive this spell of â€œarmy serviceâ€, with negligible education, skill and indoctrinated with hatred and venom, they are rendered unsuitable for any constructive role in society and they often take the deadly route of drugs, HIV & AIDS and death and the society of the North East is demonstrating enough of the evidence where large sections of youth show no evidence of hope or any thing constructive and are caught up in a spiral of drugs, pleasure and an existence devoid of hope.
According to Amnesty International, the human rights group which has tracked this phenomenon closely reports that Often recruited or abducted to join armies, many of these children – some younger than 10 years old – have witnessed or taken part in acts of unbelievable violence, often against their own families or communities. Such children are exposed to the worst dangers and the most horrible suffering, both psychological and physical. What is more, they are easily manipulated and encouraged to commit grievous acts, which they are often unable to comprehend. Many girl soldiers are expected to provide sexual services as well as to fight.
The Indian government an state has several aberrations and human rights violations are certainly part of them but it has never intentionally taken such a grotesque approach to soldiering and policing and it does try to maintain internal checks and balances to minimize violations where ever they do take place. In fact, the government is trying for long to come to some settlement with groups like the NSCN-IM and the ULFA , so that resolution of differences occurs amicably , quickly and the government has approached these talks in a spirit of maximum compromise. So do these atrocities on children , who are given no choice but are thrust into a particular way of life figure in their discussions ? One can only hope so and expect that pert of the political resolution that the government is trying so hard to achieve will mean that children get to know what it is to be a child before being exposed to the harsh world of adults !