Child Combatants of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Nepal: A Human Rights Perspective, 1996–2013

Published date01 June 2017
DOI10.1177/0973598417707012
Date01 June 2017
Subject MatterArticles
Article
1
Centre for Inner Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Rajesh Kumar Meher, Centre for Inner Asian Studies, School of International Studies,
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
E-mail: rajeshjnu83@gmail.com
Child Combatants
of the Maoist People’s
Liberation Army
(PLA) in Nepal:
A Human Rights
Perspective, 1996–2013
Rajesh Kumar Meher1
Abstract
The study analyzes involvement of children in the decade-long Maoist
armed conflict in Nepal, an issue of grave human rights violations.
An armed conflict affects all sections of the society irrespective of caste,
class, gender, region, and religion. However, children have been one of
the most vulnerable groups in the Maoist conflict in Nepal. The decade-
long Maoist conflict in Nepal has various implications on children such
as disruption of education, separation from families, killing and maiming,
illegal detention, disability resulting from the conflict, etc. Thus, there
has been gross human rights violation of children during the conflict. But
one of the worst forms of implications of the Maoist conflict has been
the recruitment of children as combatants by the Maoist Army, other-
wise known as the People’s Liberation Army, formed in 2001, in their
fight against the state forces, which is the focus of this study. The article
explores how the poor disadvantaged children have been the major
target of recruitment by the Maoist. It discusses the role played by the
Article
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
21(1) 41–60
2017 Jadavpur University
SAGE Publications
sagepub.in/home.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0973598417707012
http://jnr.sagepub.com
42 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations 21(1)
child recruits during the conflict. Besides, it examines the role played
particularly by the United Nations as well as the Nepali civil societies
in the protection, rehabilitation, and reintegration of children into the
civil society.
Keywords
Maoist, Nepali children, United Nations, Nepali civil societies, combatants
Introduction
After a decade-long Maoist armed conflict, Nepal witnessed an end to the
century-old monarchy, thereby making Nepal one of the youngest, inde-
pendent, democratic, sovereign states in the world. In this back drop, the
question arises: Is there any rationale behind studying the child recruit-
ment by the Maoist during the decade-long Maoist armed conflict in
Nepal that systematically began in 1996? However, the answer is in affir-
mation. The impact of Maoist conflict on human dignity, human values,
and human development is directly related to human rights in general and
rights of children in particular. This article would basically deal with the
forms and magnitude of Maoist recruitment of children in their armed
groups which are gross violation of human rights of children. Therefore,
Maoist armed conflict in Nepal needs to be looked into inter alia from
human rights perspective of the affected children, the focus of this study
(Poudeyal 2006: 9). Child rights abuses in the form of child combatants
in the Maoist conflict of Nepal remain one of the least discussed,
neglected, and virtually unnoticed issues in the academic literatures
though there are plenty of research on the Maoist conflict where the two
major parties were the monarchy and the Maoists. The significance of
this study arises from the fact that in the post-Maoist conflict Nepal,
it requires reintegrating child combatants into their communities. It requires
listening to the former child combatants/soldiers and their priorities
including education, emotional support, jobs, recreation, and a humanly
treatment in the society. Besides, the effect of Maoist conflict clearly
would not end suddenly with the change of regime, peace settlements,
and the cessation of hostilities. Many of the weapons used in the conflict
which still remains unnoticed, for example, landmines and unexploded
ordnance continue to pose a serious risk particularly to children. In the
decade-long Maoist conflict in Nepal, it is observed that the greatest

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