PREPAK denies hand in kidnapping
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 26: While strongly denying involvement in the series of child kidnapping incidents, the proscribed PREPAK has declared that it will award fitting punishment to any of its cadre according to the principle of the outfit in case they are found involved in cases of kidnapping children.

A statement issued by secretary in-charge of the outfit's department of publicity and propaganda Aheiba Angom declared that the outfit would not be recruiting any new cadre till October 1 this year.

As such, any case of missing child or kidnapping children during this period should not be related to the outfit, it asserted.

The outfit observed that it's time to ascertain whether some adversary agents are deliberately scheming to alienate the outfit from the people or whether the reports of missing children are just rumours.

Conveying support to the protest sittings and rallies taken out in different parts of Imphal and other valley areas recently against kidnapping children and violating their rights, PREPAK strongly condemned the acts of kidnapping children.

Claiming that the outfit respect and abides by the Convention of the Rights of the Child and its optional protocol (2), already ratified by more than 200 countries, the outfit asserted that it cannot help but take those allegedly working to present PREPAK in the wrong light on the charge of kidnapping children as reactionaries.

It lamented that some civil society organisations seem to be working without making necessary study and acting according to their own ideological affiliation rather than in collective interest.

Observing that all the people of Kangleipak, young and old alike know that Kangleipak was once sovereign, PREPAK noted that people should know who should be led by their hands into the revolutionary movement.

Observing that people accept recruitment of under-aged children who passed only class VIII into Indian military, it asserted that people's objection against induction of class VIII passed children into insurgent groups lacks sagacity.

Questioning why there has been no people's movement when young children reading in just class III are taught firing and their tender minds India-nised through NCC and Boys' Scout, the outfit decried the act of projecting insurgents as anti-social elements under a one-sided view when insurgents indulged in similar practice.

Even as there are many international agreements not to use children as soldiers, a large number of children whether on their own accord or not are being used as soldiers in 17 countries where there are conflicts between State and non-State armed groups in such countries as Burma, Burundi, Chad, Columbia, Congo, India, Lebanon, Liberia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda, it noted.

Asserting that such developments were brought by the necessity of each nation, it asked all concerned to study the role played by child soldiers in the freedom struggles of Cambodia, Vietnam and China.

The outfit also denounced the alleged 'holier than thou' attitude of some other insurgent groups.

Questioning the motive behind the discussion programmes on kidnapping children recently, PREPAK clarified that it never demanded children from any school.

Nor it would make such demands, it assured.

It appealed to all students to shed all sense of fear and apprehension and to continue with their normal activities.

It further appealed to the people undertaking protest movements to suspend their movements and to turn their attention to private works or other social issues. Claiming that PREPAK has been abiding by international conventions related to safety of children and women, it clarified that till date the outfit has never forced any one to join the party.

There were instances in the past when underaged children and matured youths who came to join the party were asked to go back to their parents after thorough counselling.

However, some young children who somehow joined the party under compelling circumstances were given training under a specific policy of the party, Aheiba Angom disclosed while claiming that the parents of these children were duly informed by the party.

Asserting that it is not a new case in the land to recruit young children in other insurgent groups, the outfit observed that it's time to introspect how the word 'recruitment' has been replaced by 'kidnapping children' recently.

The words 'kidnapping children' or 'forced recruitment' is the language of those immature agents who have fallen into the trap of adversary forces.

These agents have also been conspiring to mislead the national movement and to project it in wrong sense, Aheiba Angom alleged.

Under a specific policy of the party, it is the foremost objective of the party to educate all the young children who joined the party properly.

It is up to them to make their own decisions when they are in a position to decide on their own future life, the outfit conveyed.

Taking strong exception to the reported statement of DGP Y Joykumar that PREPAK (VC) and PREPAK (GS) were mainly responsible for the incidents of kidnapping children, Aheiba Angom contended that there are no VC or GS group in PREPAK.

The DGP's statement was aimed at projecting the outfit as inflicted by factionalism, it alleged.

Saying that no children belonging to families of Ministers and police officers would ever think of freedom struggle, PREPAK asserted that no one can say that children belonging to impoverished and exploited families would harbour feelings of revolutionary movement when they are as young as 8/9 years.

To remove the sense of insecurity being felt by the people, the outfit has taken up several steps, it informed while proposing to all NGOs/individuals to work together so that children who have come to join the party are ensured the facility to pursue education in proper manner.

Asking all NGO members to prepare for a meeting with PREPAK at the earliest, it appealed for joint analysis of young children's enthusiasm to join insurgent groups from all perspectives and its relation with the changing social condition.

Furthermore calling upon the journalist fraternity to pay more attention to investigative journalism, the outfit cautioned that under the prevailing situation, publication of news reports without proper investigation may mislead the public and this may result in unwanted incidents.