In a scathing indictment of the terrorist groups operating in Kashmir valley, a report by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that they are recruiting children for their armed campaign.
The UN report urged the Government of India to act against those who are recruiting children for using them in acts of violence.
The Guterres report also added that Naxalites too were recruiting children for their armed campaign against the Indian state.
The report titled “Children in Armed Conflict” covering the year 2017 identified Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen as the groups using children in their armed campaign in Kashmir.
"The United Nations continued to receive reports of the recruitment and use of children, including by the Naxalites, particularly in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Naxalites reportedly resorted to the use of a lottery system to conscript children in Jharkhand," the report said.
"In addition, three incidents of the recruitment and use of children were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in the context of clashes with national security forces. One case was attributed to Jaish-e-Mohammed and two to Hizbul Mujahideen," it added.
Guterres said he would "encourage the government to put in place measures to hold perpetrators of child recruitment and use to account and engage with the United Nations in view of ending and preventing violations against children".
Overall in India, the report said, "Children continued to be affected by incidents of violence between armed groups and the government, particularly in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and during tensions in Jammu and Kashmir."
It said that according to government data, 188 civilians were killed in Naxalite-affected regions but a break up of how many of them were children was not available.
In Kashmir, the report cited one case, that of a 15-year-old boy "killed by national security forces" during a clash with alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba elements in Padgampora village in Pulwama district.
Children were also affected in other ways by conflicts like the closure of schools because of actions both by Naxalites and by securiy forces, Guterres's report said.
"In Jharkhand, suspected Naxalites elements attacked one school in Khunti district, partially destroying it," the report said.
"The occupation of over 20 schools was documented by the Central Reserve Police Force in Srinagar, Kashmir, in April," the report said.
Because of increased tensions in Kashmir, 65 schools in Rajouri district and 76 in Poonch were closed for varying periods, it added.
Guterres said he welcomed India signing the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention in June 2017.
The convention adopted by the International Labour Organisation in 1999, prohibits bonded labour of children and their trafficking, sexual exploitation and recruitment for armed conflict.
(With IANS inputs)