TODAY -

Future Being Gagged

Geoffery *

When a child is born it brings with it the hope that God is not yet annoyed with the man. It is often said that Child is the father of man, Child is the future planner, Child is the future leader of the society etc. Childhood is a state of freedom and playful life full of dreams (present & future).

What can be expected form a child who has been exposed to the threat of AK rifles, 9mm Pistol, land mines etc.? Will such a child grow up as a free thinking citizen or a citizen with lack of free thought? Can the future of child or society be bright, where children have been forced to take up arms against threat to their lives? It is obvious that they will be killed/ maimed due to activities of other rebels or killed/apprehended by security forces. Will this result in a progressive or a gloomy society?

Internationally, recruitment and use of child soldiers is abhorred. Still there are 17 countries where child soldiers are being used mostly by rebel groups. There is an International convention on the child rights and protocol against recruitment and use child soldiers (i.e. below 18 years) which is applicable both to signatory states and rebel groups. States do adhere to the protocol but rebel groups because it suits them. Children are economic soldiers due to lesser personal needs, lesser food needs and lesser effort required to mould them due to physical and emotional immaturity.

North East (NE) region of our nation has been inflicted with insurgency (now terrorism) since India became independent of British yoke. Innumerable numbers of youth (who could be great teachers, great planners, great leaders and great reformers) have lost their lives till date. Still there seems to be no end to this fate. Abductions and kidnapping of children (both sexes) are increasing in the region.

Some of these children are recycled in the terrorism affected states (Manipur, Nagaland and Assam) as child soldiers and balance trafficked to distant lands. Children who are recycled are forced to join UG outfits at gun point. Recent case of abductions in Manipur is a live example. United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has changed its strategy to recruit more from rural areas than urban because it found difficult to handle city lads. Number of missing children in Nagaland is also on the rise (Morung Express date lined 01 Aug 08).

In Manipur children had raised their voice against UG activities when teachers and schools were being targetted in the recent past. They demanded to make education a terror free zone, letting them have freedom of study and natural childhood etc. Now the children are being targeted that has larger implications on social system.

Effort is to rout out the seeds of progress in society. Probably the fear (of educated and enlightened minds that would not fall prey to misguidance) in the minds of UGs has forced them to resort to uncalled for acts against children. Although both factions of PREPAK (People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak) have denied the charge and claimed it was voluntary enrolment by young children. Recently kidnapped children were also paraded in front of the media to say that they came on their own choice (The Sangai Express date lined 20 Jul 08). Threat of life can force any child (even adults) speak the captor's language. Some of the children have displayed courage to run away.

The innocent children are being used as cannon fodder on front lines to face opposing rebel groups, as couriers to carry explosives and plant bombs etc. Cruel leaders of these groups are unconcerned about safety of innocents. Two small boys were blown up in Tezpur while carrying explosives for ULFA. Besides ULFA is known to use these children for planting bombs for as little as Rs. 100/-. Besides acting as cadres, girls are being used for personal comforts or being married to rebel leaders.

Some of the children are so small that length of the weapons is equal to their own height. One of the Burmese child soldier said, "My Gun is tall as me". Some of the children are drugged to result in state of inculcate false bravado in them.

One of the child soldiers of Ugandan army says, "they gave me pills that made me crazy'. When the craziness got in my head, I beat people on their heads and hurt them until they bled. When the craziness got out of my head I felt guilty. If I remembered the person I went to them and apologized. If they did not accept my apology, I felt bad".

Some of the reactions will bring out implications for children, parents and society as a whole. Bipin Chandra (17) a class XII student stopped going to school after an attempted kidnap on him. One of the parents said," we will not send our children to school till government ensures protection to them" ( Telegraph datelined 20 Jul 08). In one of the rallies in hill districts of Manipur rallyists said, "We heard of the money demands in the past and now we heard of demands for children from school. If this be the case we need to save our future" (Imphal Free Press datelined 01 Aug 08).

These reactions reveal avoidable stress of uncertain future on every mind. Making the situation more compound two mothers of abducted kids were also detained by PREPAK (The Sangai Express dateline 22 Jul 08). Now the children of other regions also seem to have joined to request for peaceful life. One of placards carried by a child in Patna read," Terrorist Uncle! We request you to stop shedding Innocent Blood".

Not withstanding the other social reasons of some of the youth voluntarily joining cadres of the outfits. There is need for Hung Ho approach lest darkness awaits the innocent society of this region. There is a need to shun PoliticoľUG nexus, Politico-Criminal nexus in favour of Politico-people nexus. Women organizations like Meira Paibis, Assom Mahila Samitis and Naga Mothers Association need to fight this scourge whole heartedly. When they could stand up against the might of British and come out victorious they will definitely win against their own misguided kins.

"Every leader and every regime and every moment and every civilization that steps across the line to terrorism must be banished from the disclosure of civilized life."
- 'Alan Keyes'




* Geoffery contributes regularly to e-pao.net . The writer can be contacted at jaey_geoffery(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in . This article was webcasted on August 09, 2008.

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