Maoist guerrillas and their once-banned ultra-leftist student union forced children, some as young as 10, to attend a 5-hour rally under scorching sun listening to diatribe against US imperialism and Indian expansionism. With a history of nonsensical diktats, arbitrary modifications to syllabus, and unrealistic reforms, the All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union (Revolutionary) had ordered that all schools send 50 children to a 4-day convention in Katmandu .
Fearing violent reaction from this rabid group that was once banned, many schools, including top private ones, relented and sent the children to the grueling convention. Earlier, the group had bombed at least two of them (one of them an Indian school). In the past, Maoist groups and their sympathizers had forced hundreds of school children to attend indoctrination meetings, kangaroo courts, and other initiation gatherings in remote rural areas where the Army presence was low and support for their ideology high.
In a sharp contrast, this is the first time the group has organized such a meeting brazenly in close proximity to the Army headquarters, Parliament, and Prime Minister’s Office. Human Rights groups came down heavily on the terrorists charging that they have used children in a “show of power” and in violation of UN convention on child rights. The nation’s highest human rights body, the National Human Rights Commission, also castigated the terrorists for disrupting classes in most schools.
Busy preparing for their scheduled meeting with the Maoists, the Government has refused to comment on this episode.