Thursday, October 12, 2006

Chhattisgarh Maoists recruiting girls, minors

Chhattisgarh Maoists recruiting girls, minors

By Sujeet Kumar, Raipur, Oct 5: Maoists in Chhattisgarh are conducting a mass recruitment drive in the forests of Bastar to add girls and minors to their ranks, say senior state government officials.

According to intelligence reports, the support base of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has been shrinking since June last year when a civil militia movement started in their hotbed, Bastar forest. To counter this, the guerrillas have begun recruiting cadres in rural areas of the 40,000-sq km region.

"Rebels have been holding recruitment camps in remote and inaccessible areas bordering Andhra Pradesh and Orissa and adding thousands of girls and minors to their ranks to withstand stepped up attacks by the paramilitary forces and local police in Kanker, Bastar and Dantewada districts that jointly form Bastar region," said a top home department official.

Referring to fresh intelligence inputs, the official said the CPI-Maoist has recruited at least 1,500-1,700 fresh cadres in the just ended monsoon season.

"We have reliable inputs that nearly 80 percent of fresh recruits are girls and minors from tribal families. In some areas, parents have been forced to send their children to join the Maoists," he added.

"Rebels have had a base in the forests of Bastar for the past three decades, but we have never seen such panic in the Maoists rank. It seems they have realised that over 10,000 forces are in Bastar to launch a full-fledged offensive and they need increased cadres to survive possible deadly attacks," said a senior police officer involved in anti-insurgency operations for a decade.

Forces have been pounding guerrillas hideouts since the last month. Maoists suffered heavy casualties when forces busted hideouts and killed dozens and seized arms and ammunition in large quantities in last month in Bastar's Abujhmad forest.

The war is set to intensify with a guerrilla warfare trained Mizo battalion of 850 men reaching Chhattisgarh Wednesday to join the offensive.

Chhattisgarh is among the worst of the 13 Maoist hit states. Officials admit to at least 282 people, mostly tribal civilians, being killed in the state since January this year.

Tags:Source: New Kerala

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