Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Kavre’s child soldiers

An older boy from the village told Chetnath Dhakal of Dhukharka VDCs what he could have if he joined the Maoists. Initially Dhakal did not believe what he was told, but that changed after he saw another 14-year-old from the village, Krishna Prasad Gautam, come visiting with a gun on his shoulder. Krishna Prasad, who joined the Maoists when he was in grade seven, is now the commander of the Child Soldiers in the area. Chetnath's mother tried to discourage her son from joining the rebels. He is said to have told her in response, "I don't care what happens to you, I'm off." She sent her other son to Kusadevi because she did not want him to follow Chetnath's footsteps.

Many students from Dhukharka have gone missing after some of them first joined the Maoists. Most houses in the village have murals painted on their walls announcing that the Maoists have launched a "Sanjaya Enlistment Campaign" to commemorate the death of Prem Bahadur Bariely (Sanjaya) of Panchkhal in an encounter with the security forces. Even though the Maoists are taking away students, both the teachers and the guardians don't want to discuss what is happening.

.Among those who have disappeared from school, taken by the Maoists, are Khil Bahadur Asthani (15), Jit Bahadur Rana (14) and Nirmaya Asthani (14). The Maoists are also using about 20 students from the school at Phalametar VDC as child soldiers, including Prem Thing (16), Dhan Kumari Gole (14), Arjun Thing, Akkal Pakhrin, Bindu Thing (16) and Nawaraj Raut. Bindu Thing had fled from the Maoists after the emergency was declared, but they came to get her, beat her up and planted a bomb in the house.

Former DDC member Krishna Khulal was attacked by these same child soldiers. They are reported to have been unable to even carry their own supplies while walking uphill. "Their guns used to touch the ground," says Khulal. When they reached the base at Saldhara-1, he is said to have told them not to play with the pressure cooker bomb they were carrying, but they ignored him. The explosion killed Man Kumari Gole and Urmila Tamang, both 13 years old. Bimala Waiba, 15, was killed in a similar accident sometime ago. Over 400 child soldiers in this district have been prevented from attending school. According to the Chief District Officer, they are first used as porters, and then as cooks before being indoctrinated in the party.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)