“Child effect” NSCN-K strengthens New Army
The theater of war seems to have changed and actors who are involved in it have been relentlessly dangerous and cunning in their approach. With the NSCN(IM) on the other hand which have struck a peace brokerage with the Indian government over the stalemate which have driven the state and the whole of the Northeastern region in chaos for decades, the NSCN(K) have once again proved is unwillingness to surrender but a 'bone of contention' for the Central government.
Poor governance building measures and embedded roots of corruption has always been the order of the day if associated with the lasting effect of insurgency but the question to be asked, What are we going to give our future generations to look upon? Chief ministers from Assam and Meghalaya are heaving a hue and cry over the dissolution on the Special Category Status and the economic blockade which the Central government is thinking to cloak upon. This tight lid has to be an open discussion as to why the Union government is enforcing these stringent measures, we should agree to certain extent that some states in the region are not up to the mark in delivering as per required standards by the Union but is there a breakthrough? Corrective step by step procedures can be employed by the Centre in those states which have been slumbering for years because unless there is a bridge which connects both State and Central government together both State and Central government together there always be someone who would try to segregate the region from the mainland.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang(NSCN-K), a Myanmar-based rebel group led by S.S Khaplang had unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire with the Central government and there is a lot of brainstorming and homework to be done by coordinated efforts of State and Central security officials. New reports have surfaced from various sources within Assam Rifles that the NSCN has been recruiting school children to fill in the ranks of the NSCN-K cadres. The NSCN(K) was slapped a five year ban from the Union Home Ministry(MHA).
Sadly, children are increasingly participating in war as combatants, and they are being deliberately recruited by government or rebel armies.
Children remain exposed to the horrors of war, the dangers of landmines and millions of pieces of unexploded ordnance that fail to detonate on impact. The special needs of adolescents are often forgotten during times of conflict and in post conflict rebuilding of their societies.
NSCN-K has metasized its ideas to a virulent form, recruiting school children at gunpoint as most of the cadre members have realized the openness of the people of Nagaland to seek peace and tranquility within its state has denied support to any form of violence. The depleting strength within the rebel group have made the top honchos to seek and absorb young minds into their organisational strength. Children as young as 8 years of age are being forcibly recruited, coerced and induced to become combatants.
Manipulated by adults, children have been drawn into violence that they are too young to resist and with consequences they cannot imagine.
Children most likely to become soldiers are from impoverished and marginalized backgrounds or separated from their families. Child soldiers are pressed for action in many different ways, some are conscripted, others are press-ganged or kidnapped and others are forced to defend their families. In many instances, recruits are arbitrarily seized from the streets, or even from schools and orphanages, when armed militia, police or army cadres roam the streets, picking up anyone they encounter.
"The recruitment age starts from fourteen years and most of these youths were taken to Tsera camp, from where they are transferred to Ngiakching camp(Myanmar) for basic military training." quoted a source from Assam Rifles. Children are also used as soldiers in support functions such as cooks, messengers and spies. Reports tell of forces deliberately killing even the youngest children on the grounds that they were dangerous.
The recruitment drive of NSCN-K is in direct contravention to the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989. Article 38 of this Convention requires state parties to prevent anyone under the age of 15 from taking direct part in hostilities and to refrain from recruiting anyone under the age of 15 years.
An urgent priority is to demobilize everyone under 18 years of age from the armed forces. The participation of children must be recognized in all peace agreements so that effective planning can be made for reintegration programmes. Moreover, the actions of NSCN-K are also preventing children of Naga villages from exercising their Right to Education that is enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
The major challenge for governments and various stakeholders is to channel the energy, ideas and experience of youth into contributing in positive ways to the creation of their new, post conflict society.
(By Christopher Gatphoh)
The views reflected in this piece are that of the author and need not necessarily be that of TNT-The Northeast Today
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