Media team meets child soldiers at PREPAK camp, All minors say they joined outfit willingly

SOMEWHERE IN CHANDEL, Jul 19: The underground PREPAK has categorically denied that the outfit ever indulged in any form of forced recruitment of minors while stating that it never encouraged child soldiers.

Disclosing this, the district organisation officer of the outfit during an interaction with mediapersons at their general headquarter somewhere in Chandel district yesterday, said that recent charges levelled against their organisation by several civil society bodies and families in connection with minors joining the party at their will were wrongly projected, as the children were neither forcibly recruited nor were they abducted or lured by the party members.

The PREPAK spokesman further said that the outfit wanted a revolution that brought equality and a uniform society in the state.

He further said the PREPAK always tried its level best to follow the international guidelines in their revolutionary movement but due to the certain misunderstandings and communications gaps certain unfortunate and unwanted incidents happened. For every undesireable happening involving the PREPAK, the outfit made public apologies in time and there was no question of misguiding or mistreating the public by them, he observed.

Regarding the issue of missing minor children and the charge that the outfit indulged in forced recruitments, he clarified that none of the minor boys were forced to join the outfit till today. He further said that the series of recruitments of minor children to the party was according to the wishes of the children and the party could not deny entry to these minors as it was their desire to join the outfit.

He said the PREPAK never kept undisclosed the joining of minor boys to their respective families, considering the apprehensions felt by the families. The organisation had informed the families of the minors after the minors reached their camps.

He also clarified that the PREPAK was not the lone organisation which accepted recruitment of minors as there were several revolutionary groups in the state which admitted minors in their ranks and the mass assumption that the PREPAK alone recruited minors was not true.

He said the PREPAK had its own objective of nurturing these minors by giving proper education along with basic military training at their general headquarters. It wanted to make these children perfect persons and there was no question of violating the rigths of these children, the spokesman added.

Appreciating the suggestions and comments from various quarters, the spokesman said the oufit would always be with the people of the state and appealed to the general public not to propagate any form of false propaganda which may go against the party before the matter is confirmed.

Answering the queries of the mediapersons he said that those minors who were recruited to the party may be allowed to return and stay like normal persons after considering their case as per party norms.

In the meantime, all the minors who were claimed to have been forcibly recruited to the outfit by their respective parents and civil bodies were paraded before mediapersons at the PREPAK’s GHQ and allowed free interaction with the mediapersons.

Almost all the minor boys and girls who were recruited into the outfit recently gave their uniform clarification that they joined the outfit because of their desire to serve the people of Manipur.

Among the newly recruited minors, 12-year old Naosekpam Thoithoiba, son of N Tomba of Uripok Achom Leikai who left his house on June 7 along with a local friend named Nongthombam Naoton, 14, son of N Kumar mentioned that they joined the PREPAK of their own choice and the same had been informed to their parents. They said they knew they were quite young to become revolutionaries but their ambition was to serve the people of the state, adding that they were quite happy at the PREPAK camp where the seniors and party elders gave them many lessons apart from basic military training. They were completing their basic military courses, both added.

On the other hand, 13-year old Ak Ajoy, son of Ak Ibungo and Ak Bipinchandra, 13, son of Ak Ranjit, both residents of Thoubal Kiyam Siphai, also disclosed that no one had forced them to join the party and appealed to the parents and civil society bodies of their localities to stop their agitations in connection with their joining the PREPAK.

Ak Athoi further mentioned that the main reason for his joining the PREPAK was to give a lesson to the security forces and police commandos of the state who were violating human rights in the state in the name of counter insurgency operations.

Stating an incident which he claimed was a shocking moment in his life, he said a police commando party caught two innocent youths coming on a motorcycle in broad daylight at their locality and removed their money and mobile phones and later beat them up severely. They had also heard news of killing of innocent people and looting by the security forces which nobody in the state could protest, he added.

Later, other minors named Pebam Bishorjit, 13, son of P Rojit of Kiyamgei Awang Leikai and 15-year old Ningombam Sarda, daughter of late N Ningthemjao of Pishum Ningombam Leirak gave their statements stating that they joined the party according to their personal desires.

Several new minor recruits who have recently joined the outfit at the PREPAK GHQ of their own will, according to them, have started getting military training. Around 20 new children who recently joined the outfit expressed their gratitude to the PREPAK for giving them special care and protection at the PREPAK’s general headquarters.



About Zou Sangnaupang Pawlpi Delhi

Zou Students' Association Delhi Branch
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