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

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 

'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop 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

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...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.