Army grappling with 'child warriors' in J&K
1 August 2004
The Hindustan Times
Indo-Asian News Service
Jammu: The Indian Army claims to be confronting a new problem along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir-teenaged terrorists, some as young as 13 or 14, wielding sophisticated arms. According to an Army spokesman, Pakistan-based terrorist outfits Jaish-e- Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and even the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen have started pushing in teenagers to the Indian side. The spokesman said in recent weeks, the Army had apprehended nine such children armed with deadly weapons. One of them was identified as 13-year-old Mohammad Islam of Sihota in Pakistan, the spokesman said. The teenager described to the army how he had been motivated for jehad and made to pick up guns. Islam said that no member of his group was made aware of the hazards that they would have to face while crossing the LoC. Nor were they told of the electrified fencing along the LoC. 'There was no mention of that. We were simply pushed to this side and asked to fight against the Indian Army,' Islam is reported to have said. The Army spokesman said the terrorist outfits' move to send 'child warriors' was an act of desperation, with the top leadership of many groups having been wiped out. Indian soldiers on the LoC now have to tread cautiously. On spotting young boys, they have to try to hold their fire. The soldiers' first attempt is to capture the children alive so they can be reformed.