Don’t attack schools, Maoists told

New York, March 26: Maoists and security forces in India should respect children’s safety by keeping away from schools in the weeks before Lok Sabha election, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The Maoists should cease all attacks on schools which will be used as balloting centres. Security forces should not occupy schools as barracks which puts children at risk, the US-based group said in a statement.

Three months before the 2009 election, Maoists conducted a spate of attacks on schools, at least 14 of them in Jharkhand and Bihar, it said.

“The Maoists have repeatedly escalated their violence against schools before elections,” said Bede Sheppard, deputy children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch.

“Both the Maoists and the government need to recognize the importance of education for India’s children and respect the civilian nature of schools, which should neither be attacked nor militarized.”