On Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres asked India to cease using pellets against children in Occupied Kashmir and to avoid linking children with security personnel in any manner.
These points were made by the UN head in his latest report on “Children and Armed Conflict,” which was presented to the UN Security Council for an open discussion on Monday. The study makes no mention of how India has linked youngsters to security services.
According to the study, severe breaches were perpetrated against 19,300 children last year, mostly in conflict zones including Afghanistan, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
During the virtual high-level discussion, Mr. Guterres said, “The disregard for children’s rights amid war and upheaval is shocking and heartbreaking,” “Schools and hospitals [are] constantly attacked, looted, destroyed or used for military purposes, with girls’ educational and health facilities targeted disproportionately”.
Last year, 39 youngsters — 33 boys and six girls — were impacted by violence in the occupied area, according to the report’s India chapter. Nine of them were murdered, while another 30 were injured.
Pellet guns injured at least 11 people. The study details instances of torture by security personnel and unidentified offenders, explosive-related injuries, gunfire between unidentified parties and Indian security forces, and grenade assaults as well as crossfire and shelling across the Line of Control.
“I remain concerned by grave violations against children in Jammu and Kashmir and call upon the [Indian] government to take preventive measures to protect children,” the UN chief said. He urged the Indian government to “end the use of pellets against children” and to “ensure that children are not associated in any way to security forces”.
He also asked New Delhi to sign the Safe Schools Declaration and the Vancouver Principles, which are an international agreement to safeguard children, teachers, schools, and institutions from the worst consequences of armed conflict.
“I am alarmed at the detention and torture of children and concerned by the military use of schools,” said the secretary-general while urging the Indian government to “ensure that children are detained as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period”.
He also urged India to “prevent all forms of ill-treatment in detention” and to “ensure the implementation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, to address the use of children for illegal activities and the situation of detained children”.
According to the study, Indian security forces used seven schools for four months last year, according to the UN.
By the end of 2020, all schools had been decommissioned. Grave breaches in the context of the Naxalite insurgency were not verified by the UN.
The UN also confirmed the recruitment and usage of two boys by unnamed offenders and was investigating allegations of three youngsters being used for less than 24 hours by Indian security personnel.