Maoist rebels are recruiting hundreds of children in an effort to strengthen their influence in the heartlands of India.
They target 10 to 15 year olds from poor families. Children are often recruited by force.
Experts say these recruitment drives are happening in bordering areas of eastern and central Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and Orissa States.
[Rajat Kujur, Maoist Expert]:
"Maoists have a separate department to recruit children. They say it is baal (children) militia. It is very operational in bordering areas of Orissa-Jharkhand and Orissa-Chhattisgarh. Their job is only to recruit children to train them and brainwash them."
Human rights agencies say that rebels threaten death to children’s families if they refuse to join.
A former director general of police says the Indian government needs step in and help get the children back.
[S N Tiwari, Former Police Director]:
"So, the children have to be some how brought into the government's fold and given a sense of patriotism.”
Thousands have been killed in the Maoist insurgency, which began in the late 1960s.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoists as one of the gravest domestic threats to India's internal security.