The past five years have seen attacks on schools by naxals on at least 48 ocassions. Although the years 2005 to 2007 did not witness many such attacks it was the years after that the attacks on schools went up and in Jharkhand alone 13 schools were attacked in just one month in the year 2009.
Attacking schools is something that is part of the naxal policy. However there are two sides to this argument. Here we take a look at the numerous attacks on schools by the naxals and also discuss the logic behind such attacks.
Over the past three years, the number of attacks on schools have seen a steep rise. The argument advanced by the naxals is that schools are acting as police stations and security forces take cover in these places. To substantiate their claim they have never attacked a school when the children were in it and attacks have always taken place when the school premises is closed.
Security personnel who battle the naxals however claim that the reason behind attacking schools is only to gain mileage and create a pyschological impact. Basically this trend of attacking schools was started in Nepal and it followed suit in India. Security personnel say that schools are a symbol of the government and this is a way of expressing opposition to the state. Whenever a school is targetted it has a huge impact and the same is immense in the minds of the parents who send their children to school. This would mean that there is a fear pshycosis that is caused and the battle is half won. Moreover in villages, a school is always a central structure and an attack on such a structure would always cause much more impact, the naxals believe.
Meenakshi Ganguly of Human Rights Watch who has documented such attacks in a report called Sabotaged Schooling says that the Naxalites a longstanding, pan-Indian Maoist revolutionary movement are directly targeting and blowing up government schools, including those not used or occupied by security forces. The government’s failure to promptly repair damaged schools enhances the lasting negative impact of these attacks. The Naxalites claim that their attacks on schools cause no disruption to children’s education because, they assert, they only target schools being used by state security forces in counter-Naxalite operations. We however suggested that this claim is false. Our research suggests that many schools that have been attacked were not being used by the security forces at the time. Deficiencies in government monitoring make it difficult to get clear information on the extent and pattern of Naxalite attacks. Schools are a high-visibility, soft target—attacking them garners media attention and increases fear and intimidation among local communities. While the Naxalites do not appear to be targeting students directly, attacks on schools that are not being used for a military purpose are violations of both international humanitarian law and Indian criminal law.
We have visited 22 schools and interviewed over 130 people, including 48 children ages 7 to 17.
The Naxalites have frequently bombed schools in government-controlled areas. These attacks typically occur during the evening or night, and are carried out with improvised explosive devices known locally as “can bombs” metal cans packed with explosive materials. Naxalites have depended for explosives primarily on gelignite, as well as dynamite, potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, and emulsion explosives.
A time line:
May 24 : At Meghania village in the Chatra district, a group of suspected Maoists blew up a school building.
November 24: CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a school building in the Latehar district.
October 25: CPI-Maoist cadres destroyed a school building by exploding landmines at Sobaranpur in Giridih district
September 28: CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a school building in the Palamau district.
November 29: 50 cadres of the CPI-Maoist triggered an explosion targeting a school building at Panki in the Palamau district.
March 21: The CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a primary school and a primary health centre at Nitar under Manatu Police Station in Palamu District.
March 30: CPI-Maoist cadres blew up exploded two buildings housing primary schools in Ghansitola village in the Latehar District. In another incident, a primary school building in the Banalat area of Gumla District was blown up destroying a portion of the structure.
April 2: CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a school building in the Moktama village of Chatra District. They also blew up a school building and an anganvadi (mother and child centre) building in the same village.
April 9: Armed Maoists blew up the building of the Belhra High School at Bishrampur in the Palamau District.
April 19: Cadres of the CPI-Maoist blew up a school building in Kiukra village under Pirtand Police Station in Giridih District.
May 24: In Chatra District, Maoists blew up two blocks of a middle school building in the Kaura village under Pratapur Police Station.
October 13: CPI-Maoist blew up a school building in the Chatra District.
October 27: Maoists blew up two schools in the Giridih District.
November 5-6: The CPI-Maoist cadres rebels blew up a school building in the Chatra District, Police said on November 6. The extremists blew up a middle school building at Asona village of Chatra.
November 10: CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a school building at Banbirua in the Latehar District
November 9-10: CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a school building at Kona village in the Latehar District.
November 23: Suspected CPI-Maoist cadres blew up three schools in Palamu and one in Giridih District.
November 23: CPI-Maoist cadres blew up three schools in Palamu and one in Giridih District in the night. The Manjhladih Middle School at Dumri in the Giridih District was also blown up.
March 21: The CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a primary school at Nitar under Manatu Police Station in Palamu District.
April 19: Armed cadres of the CPI-Maoist blew up a school building in Kiukra village under Pirtand Police Station in Giridih District.
May 24: In Chatra District, suspected Maoists blew up two blocks of a middle school building in the Kaura village under Pratapur Police Station.
April 4: CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a school run by an NGO, Alternative for India Development (AID), at Chapee under Panki Police station in Palamu District.
July 1: Cadres of the CPI-Maoist damaged the middle school Charai village in Palamu District.
August 8: Armed cadres of CPI-Maoist blew up a school building in Kanda village in Palamau District in the night.
April 10: CPI-Maoist cadres blew up two adjacent schools that housed a CRPF picket at Banahara village under Haveli Khadagpur police station in the Munger district.
March 29: Over 200 armed cadres of the CPI-Maoist blew up two school buildings at Duddha village in Kaimur District.
April 10: The CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a school at Sarodag village in Kaimur District.
July 28: Cadres of the CPI-Maoist blew up three school buildings at Gordand and Karmari villages in the Bastar district during July 28-31.
October 20: About 250 armed cadres of the CPI-Maoist stormed into Murdanda village of Bijapur district and damaged three school buildings. Maoists also set ablaze books and papers at the schools and took away food grains stored in one of the schools
December 9: The CPI-Maoist cadres destroyed a school building at Sangam village in the Pakhanjur area of Kanker district.
December 28: Around 200 armed cadres and Sangham members of the CPI-Maoist destroyed a under construction primary school building and a primary health centre at Morlle village in the Bijapur district
November 7: The CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a primary school building in the Dantewada District, Police said.
February 21: Suspected CPI-Maoist cadres blew up a state-run school building at Maheshwari village in Jamui District.
July 19: Nearly 100 Maoists damaged a school building at Puspal village of Dantewada District.
December 22-23: In a series of attacks, the Maoists on December 23 blew up four school buildings in the areas bordering Jharkhand.
May 1: About 200 armed cadres of the CPI-Maoist stormed the girls’ school premises at Dhepaguda under Narayapatna area in Koraput District and triggered at least three bomb blasts.
July 6: About 100 heavily-armed cadres of the CPI-Maoist blew up a school building in MV-21 village under Kalimela Police station area in Malkangiri District.
August 14: Around 30 armed cadres of the CPI-Maoist blew up the newly constructed hostel building of the residential Sevashram School at Manyamkonda in Malkangiri District to threaten students and teachers not to hoist tricolour or observe Independence Day.