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Naxal violence is not 'armed conflict', India tells UN

By Betwa Sharma
June 18, 2010 15:54 IST
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India has strongly protested the inclusion of the Naxal issue under the realm of 'armed conflict' in a United Nations 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 the 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 the 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 Maoists in some districts of 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 react to India's specific objection, but the UN diplomat spoke to reporters about the difficulty of defining an armed conflict.

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

The report also pointed out that the Maoists 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 in Maoist-infested areas.

It also described the incident in which Maoists 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 the 43 schools in Maoist-affected areas of the state.

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.

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