Rebels target Indian schools

2009-12-09 20:14

New Delhi - Indian children are increasingly caught in the middle of fighting between the government and communist rebels in impoverished rural areas, with at least 42 schools attacked in the past year, a human rights group said on Wednesday.

The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than four decades in several states in central India, demanding land and jobs for agricultural labourers and the poor. But a spate of recent attacks has raised concern they are lashing out ahead of a planned government offensive aimed at routing them from their forest strongholds.

While the rebels frequently target police and government workers, schools are also often destroyed by rebels or occupied by police, jeopardising the education of tens of thousands of India's most disadvantaged and marginalised children, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report.

"The Maoists say they are fighting for India's poor, but their attacks on schools deprive these children of the education they desperately need," said Bede Sheppard, author of the report. "At the same time, long-term police occupation of schools puts these children right in the midst of danger and trauma, keeps them from their classrooms, and frightens them away."

At least 30 schools have been attacked in the remote state of Jharkhand and 12 in Bihar since November 2008, although students do not appear to be targeted directly, the report found, focusing on two of the hardest-hit areas.

It said many of the attacks occurred over the past month - 14 in Jharkhand and two in Bihar.

The rebels have defended the attacks, which usually involve home made bombs, saying they are only targeting schools being used by security forces, but the report found that unoccupied schools were attacked as well.

Only government buildings

The reason for the rebel attacks appears to be that schools are often the only government buildings in areas where the movement is concentrated, according to the report.

"Moreover, undefended schools are a high-visibility, soft target - attacking them garners media attention and increases fear and intimidation among local communities," it said, calling the attacks a violation of international humanitarian law and Indian criminal law.

The Indian government declined to comment.

"The Home Ministry never comments on the reports of rights groups," ministry spokesman Onkar Kedia said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently said left-wing extremism was perhaps the gravest internal security threat India faces.

More than 2 000 Indian security forces and civilians have been killed in communist rebel violence since 2005, according to the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management.

Human Rights Watch also criticised police and paramilitary troops for using school buildings as part of their counterinsurgency efforts, saying the occupation often extends for longer terms than warranted. It cited two cases in which police remained in part of a school years after their own station was destroyed by rebels.

Reliable government figures for the number of occupied schools were not available.

The Indian government has announced plans to deploy more than 70 000 paramilitary and police forces in a spring offensive in the so-called "Red Corridor" that runs through the dense, mineral-rich forest belt from the Nepal border to the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.



- AP
Read more on:    human rights watch  |  india  |  war
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is so much going on around you and inside your head. You may want to take your ideas to the next level. Romance may be...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.