In northeast, fourth child falls victim to renewed militancy in July
A week after the Assam Rifles allegedly gunned down two minors in Nagaland, suspected tribal militants killed an eight-year-old boy in a video hall near a coal quarry in Assam’s Dima Hasao district.
The place, about 280 km southeast of Guwahati, is close to the Assam-Meghalaya border. According to district superintendent of police GV Sivaprasad, some armed miscreants came in search of the video hall’s owner Ziaur Rahman.
They fired a shot in the hall packed with 30 people when they were unable to find him. The bullet hit Bishen Tamang, 10, on his right cheek and then Maruf Ahmed, 8, on his head.
Maruf died on the spot while Bishen is currently in critical condition at a civil hospital in Jowai town in adjoining Meghalaya.The boys were children of coal quarry labourers.
Maruf was the fourth minor claimed by the conflict situation in the northeast.
On July 15, Assam Rifles personnel allegedly killed a girl named Aso, 13, and a boy named Tizali, 14, in Nagaland’s Phek district.
The paramilitary force said it was an outcome of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang rebels using villagers as human shields.
On July 17, Central Reserve Police Force personnel opened fire on demonstrators seeking a subdivision in western Assam. A 14-year-old boy died in the firing.
“Children are increasingly falling as victims of conflict between state actors and rebel groups. New Delhi needs to take a serious look into this,” Chiranjeeb Kakoty, chairperson of National Action and Coordination Group for Ending Violence Against Children, told reporters.
In August last year, members of National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Songbijit killed 16-year-old Priya Basumatary in western Assam’s Chirang district as a punishment for being an ‘informer’.
Four months later, the outfit gunned down 18 Adivasi children along with 48 adults in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts of Assam.The ordeal for children in militancy-mauled northeast does not end there.
Rebel groups virtually snatch children from parents to turn them into soldiers. Officials say there are some 500 child soldiers fighting for various militant outfits in the region.