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'Naxal problem not an armed conflict'

India has strongly protested the inclusion of Naxal issue under the realm of an "armed conflict" in a UN report, saying the violence being perpetrated by these groups does not make it a zone of armed conflict as defined by international law. See special

india Updated: Jun 18, 2010 17:19 IST

India has strongly protested the inclusion of Naxal issue under the realm of an "armed conflict" in a UN report, saying the violence being perpetrated by these groups does not make it a zone of armed conflict as defined by international law.

Referring to the recent UN report that deals with 'Children and armed conflicts', India's envoy to UN Hardeep
Singh Puri told Security Council that operations of the Maoist groups did not fall into the realm of an "armed conflict".

"At the outset I should make clear that the violence being perpetrated by these groups though completely abhorrent
and condemnable, certainly does not make this a zone of armed conflict as defined by international law," he said.

"We, therefore, cannot accept reporting on these incidents as falling within the mandate of the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict," he said, referring to top UN official Radhika
Coomaraswamy.

The report, which is produced by the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and submitted to the Security
Council, highlighted the recruitment and use of children by the Maoist armed group in some districts of the Chhattisgarh.

"The Naxals have admitted that children were used only as messengers and informers but have admitted that children
were provided with training to use non-lethal and lethal weapons including landmines," the report said.

Coomaraswamy did not respond to PTI on India's specific objection but the UN diplomat spoke generally to
reporters about the difficultly of defining an armed conflict.

"What is an armed conflict is contested," she said, adding that many countries who have been in this report claim
that they are not in situations of armed conflict.

"What we determine is that there has to be a political dimension to it for an armed conflict," she said, adding the
report made a disclaimer that this was not a "legal determination" of the situation being an armed conflict but
countries were selected on the basis that it is a "political conflict with humanitarian consequences for children."

The report also pointed out that the Naxal's had carried out systematic attacks on schools in order to
intentionally destroy government structures and to instill fear among the local community. Some schools remained closed
or abandoned due to lack of security.

It also described the incident in which Naxalites forced villagers to provide five boys and girls for their
armed group in October 2009, and stated that the Jharkhand police had vacated 28 of 43 schools in Naxal-affected areas of the state and were in the process of vacating 13 more.

Speaking at an open-debate on children in armed conflict, Puri told the Security Council that New Delhi was
taking measures to address the situation.

"We strongly condemn these despicable acts of Naxal violence and are fully committed to controlling such
diabolical activities," he said.