Nepal's Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has asked the Maoists to immediately halt recruitment of child soldiers amid protests by people and human rights organisations against the rebels' drive.
"The government has taken seriously the Maoists' drive to recruit children, luring and even forcing them to join their army," Koirala told reporters yesterday at his home town, Biratnagar, in eastern Nepal.
Koirala said he had also raised the matter with Maoist chief Prachanda before the latter left for New Delhi to attend the Leadership Summit being organised by the Hindustan Times.
"I have told Prachanda to stop such activities," he said. Koirala also drew the attention of the Maoist leadership to the protests by people in several districts against the Maoists' recruitment campaign.
The Maoists have reportedly intensified their recruitment campaign for the so-called Maoists' People's Liberation Army (PLA) by luring school children and youths in various parts of the country despite agreeing to confine their armed cadres to temporary barracks by November 21 as per the historic peace deal with the government.
There are reports that the Maoists have recurited youths in Surkhet, Nepalgunj, Pokhara, Chitwan, Dhading and other districts, promising to pay them attractive salaries and later jobs in the Nepalese Army after the conclusion of the peace process.