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Protests break out as school going children 'branded Naxalites, taken prisoners'

By Sheshu Babu*

Conditions in all spheres of life is going from bad to worse. On September 13, Political Prisoners' Day was observed. On that day, Jatin Das, friend of Bhagat Singh and member of the Hindustan Republican Socialist Association, passed away after 63 days of hunger strike. He demanded 'political prisoners' status to those who have been jailed by the state.
Even 92 years after his great sacrifice, the state of affairs has not improved and on the other hand, even children are being sent to jails branding them as Naxalites. According to a report in a Telugu site, school-going children are being held by police and other military forces.
The report says, people from two villages of Bijapur district have expressed anger at arrest and imprisonment of school-going children. Despite heavy rain, villagers protested against District Reserve Guard (DRG) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans demanding release of kids who were forcibly taken to prison labelling them as 'Naxalite'. They also sent a memorandum to the Governor on this issue.
In the past, children have been implicated in false cases on several occasions, the villagers said. On August 11, a 10th class student was sent to prison by DRG jawans. On August 28, children aged between 12 and 15 were taken into custody by CRPF personnel and reportedly jailed by branding them as Naxals, the villagers accused.
On September 10, hundreds of villagers from Toka and Palnar had a meeting in Gangalur Panchayat Bhavan premises. They accused the police and military personnel of unjustly picking up children and sending them to jail on the ground of naxal activities.
This is not new. A few years ago, the residents of Gattepalli for village in Telangana expressed their strong resentment against 'encounters' of 40 persons, including a child and they complained of many missing, according to a two part article, "One of 40 Naxals killed in 'Encounter' was Child, Say Villagers, 7 More Missing", published on May 1, 2018.  A very bleak situation has been prevailing in Gadchiroli and nearby areas in central India.
The arrests of children is unjustified and very cruel. Kids are innocent and they are in their prime time of learning. They are in the process of acquiring knowledge about various matters -- both political and non-political. They should be given full support by society. But in remote places of Bastar, where struggle between local people and the police or military personnel is common, even small children are not being spared. This is very sad and points to grave situation in these areas.
--
*Writer from anywhere and everywhere

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