Maoists in Jharkhand are kidnapping children in the 10-16 age group and teaching them to assemble and plant bombs, police sources said. A 10-year-old boy died in an explosion on Tuesday during one such training session, blowing the lid off the rebels' sinister plan.
Pardeshi Lohra was among seven-eight children forcibly taken from their homes in Latehar district by CPI (Maoists) a few of days ago, police said. He was killed while planting a bomb. The other children are still in captivity.
"The Maoists handed over Pardeshi's body to his parents this morning and threatened them into performing the last rites without letting anyone know of the cause of death," Latehar SP Michael Raj said.
However, the police got wind of the incident on Wednesday, exhumed the body and sent it for postmortem.
"This has exposed the real face of the CPI (Maoists), who claim to be champions of the poor," Raj said.
Maoists have been indoctrinating children and using them for propaganda for decades. But this is probably the first report of them being used as foot soldiers - a trend associated with the Taliban or insurgent groups in several African countries.
Earlier this year in Latehar, the Reds had planted bombs in the bodies of CRPF jawans they'd killed.
"The Maoists are getting more inhuman by the day," said additional DGP SN Pradhan.
Jharkhand accounts for nearly a third of all Maoist violence in India with 163 people killed last year. Till August 1 this year, Maoists have killed 97 people.