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Children used as human shields and informers in Nandigram
November 20, 2007 17:22 IST
Children are possibly the worst sufferers of the 11-month old conflict between Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee and Communist Party of India-Marxist in Nandigram as hundreds have been used by both the warring groups as human shields or as informers.
Perhaps it is not enough that they are caught in the trauma of a turf war for such a long time, several children have been made to take part in attacks to act as human shields, when violence erupts with the warring sides attacking each other with firearms and crude bombs.
Both the CPI-M and BUPC have blamed each other for using children. "I study in a school at Khejuri, while my village Takapura is in Nandigram. My village elders asked me to get information about the CPI-M's preparation, their movements and plans," said Monojit Das (name changed), a student of class eight.
More serious allegations came from 13-year old Sanatan Mondal of Gangra, who said he has learnt to make bombs during the conflict. "I have not used a firearm, but I have learnt how to make bombs from the elders in the village," Mondal says. "I also supplied bombs from hiding places to the men during clashes," he added.
Fourteen-year-old Nuruddin and his brother Nizamuddin, two years younger, seethe in anger. They hail from Satengabari, where most of the houses of BUPC supporters have been razed to the ground during the recent recapture by CPI-M supporters. "If the Central Reserve Police Force leaves, we will show the marauders what we can do," the boys, who have witnessed family and village elders being beaten up mercilessly and their houses being set on fire, say menacingly.
In villages like Gangra, Sonachura, Gokulnagar, Ranichak, Satengabari, Takapara and Kamalpur which witnessed the worst violence in Nandigram, there are nearly 4,500 children. Most of them are displaced, staying in houses of relatives and friends, makeshift shelters or in relief camps. It is likely that the impression of the nearly year-long battle will remain forever etched in the minds of these children.
BUPC president Abu Sufian claims that it is the CPI-M which used children and women from Nandigram during attacks and in processions from CPI-M dominated Khejuri. "These women and children are CPI-M supporters who fled to Khejuri from Nandigram villages following the March 14 incident. They were used by CPI-M leaders as human shields in attacks and rallies as they know we will not attack them," he claimed.
The CPI-M's Khejuri zonal committee leader Himangshu Das claims to the contrary and says BUPC used children and women in rallies and also for armed conflicts. He claims that the BUPC leadership has forced children to take part in clashes.