Ranchi, Jharkhand: Speaking at the roundtable organised during the screening of Save the Children’s movie ‘Caught in Crossfire’, which depicts the dire situation of children living in conflict areas, experts from government, civil society and media called for declaring schools in naxal-affected districts of Jharkhand as ‘Zones of Peace’.
According to government’s own estimate published in 2011, 14 districts in Chhattisgarh, 19 in Odisha and 23 in Jharkhand are affected by the Maoist insurgency.
As per the report released here by Sanjeev Rai, National Manager (Education), Save the Children, it says, “According to local officials, development projects like roads and health centres are often stalled by Maoist groups. The fear of adverse events such as kidnappings or encounters keeps the administration away. However, the only evidence of Maoists interfering in such a project is strictly related to two issues. One, when schools are occupied by security forces the Maoist cadres retaliate and second, roads are destroyed because they help create access for paramilitary units carrying out anti-Maoist operations.”
A large number of villages, especially in remote areas of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, Gajapati in Odisha and Khunti and Lohardagga in Jharkhand, schools simply do not exist despite the Right to Education Act. Many schools have been destroyed and several schools still continue to be occupied by security forces, making schools targets for Maoists groups. It is important to note that as per the Supreme Court order, all schools should be demilitarized immediately.
Save the Children works in 120 countries and across 17 states of India in the areas of children education, emergencies,
health and protection.