Dr. Altaf Ahmad Dar 6 February 2020
Children are considered the wealth of a nation and their progress and development are the priority of every nation. But unfortunately in several countries their progress and development have been halted by armed conflicts. They became directly victims of conflicts, firing, and mine blasts. In armed conflicts children suffers most as according to United Nations, some 20 million people have been killed in over 150 armed conflicts in developing countries since the Second World War, the majority being the children and women (Boyden, et al., 2002). UN Security Council resolution on “Children and Armed Conflict” states that armed conflict creates harmful and widespread impact on children and has also long-term consequences for durable peace, security and development (UN Security Council Resolution, 2001). In present ethno-political conflicts children are being used as political actors and are victimized on a massive scale by attack, landmines, displacement and sexual violence (Wessells, 1998). According to the UN General Assembly study conducted by Ms Graca Machel, out of the world’s 27.4 million refugees and 30 million displaced people, nearly half are children (Machel, 1996). Children in conflict areas develops many psycho-social problems like stress, trauma, nightmares, depression and mental problems due to killing of parents, loss of home and other violent incidents(Wessells, 1998).
In Kashmir children’s suffered mostly by armed conflict as in other parts of the world. It has disturbed their innocent minds as they have witnessed the conflict when they are in their childhood period. They have gone through trauma, depression, and other psycho-social problems. They have seen their fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters killed by firing of security persons and militants. In Kashmir large number of children’s became orphans either their father or mother got killed. According to the study done by Save the Children, there are 2, 14,000 orphan children in Kashmir and 37 percent of them became orphan due to Kashmir conflict. These orphan children’s are going through a difficult phase. They are suffering from many psycho-social problems and are facing economic problems. Many orphan children’s could not continue their education and some of them are studying in orphanages. These orphanages like Yateem Khana and Yateem trust are run by socio-religious organisations, are providing them free education with boarding and lodging and are taking care of their every need.
Armed conflict has disturbed the education system due to frequent Hartals, Curfews, Killings and Crackdowns which led to the closure of schools. Kashmiri school children got less schooling facilities as compared to other states of India which became responsible for their less exposure to extra-curricular issues. The children’s who got birth after 1990 have spent less time in schools and more time in homes. Kashmir conflict also kept schools in a very poor condition which have a negative impact on mental development of children.
A very large no of schools have been occupied by security forces as their base camps for militant operation activities. In most number of cases security forces have constructed their base camps nearer to schools which are having a negative impact on the minds of the students. These kinds of situations gave birth to mental problems like fear, Trauma, depression etc. to school going children. These base camps can become threat to the security of the students any time in future if any untoward will happen between security forces and militants. Students are best possible option for hostage to both security forces and militants to achieve their objectives. If Govt. of India is sincere about the safety and security of Kashmiri children they need to shift these military camps to safer locations.
Use of pellet guns proved lethal as many children lost their vision completely or partially as they became victim to pellet firing from security forces. Pellet victim children are facing many economic hardships and are going through mental trauma. Most of them could not continue their education either poverty or unavailability of well-equipped blind schools in Kashmir. In 2016 the worst example of the pellet victims is 10th class student Insha Jan from Shopian and on 25th Nov. 2018, 18 Month old baby girl Haba Jan who may lose completely the vision of the one eye as per doctors. Amnesty international has urged India to stop the use of pellet guns in line with Human rights standards on the use of force. But unfortunately security forces are still using pellet guns to deal with protesters which are mostly school going children. The immediate need is to ban the pellet guns so that no more children become victim to pellet firing.