India is accusing leftist Maoist rebels of regularly recruiting children (usually teenagers) to assemble, plant, and detonate bombs, as well as do intelligence and other support functions. Police cite evidence from a rural village where police ordered the exhumation of a recently deceased teenager and found that the kid had been killed by some kind of explosion. The police had received a tip that the boy had been taken away after the Maoists accused his parents of owning them a large sum of money. The Maoists said they would forgive the debt if their teenage son would come work for them. The boy was killed when he made an error assembling a bomb and the device went off. With that incident now out in the open, other villagers admitted that the Maoists had done the same thing to them. When news of this incident spread the police received more tips from other villages that indicated the Maoists, who are known to be having recruiting problems, were apparently systematically recruiting teenagers and younger kids because children were are less likely to be stopped and searched or questioned by police.
The Maoists use children as young as six as lookouts and couriers and apparently have a policy of not letting the kids handle weapons until they are at least twelve. Police have found documents (including pictures and videos) featuring what the Maoists call their “Child Force” (Bal Sangham). In the past the kids volunteered, sometimes without parental permission, and worked part-time. But a growing shortage of adult fighters has forced the Maoists to be creative in expanding the Child Force.