Imphal: Child soldiers of the militant outfit People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) were paraded in front of the media this week. PREPAK claims these little soldiers believe in their cause and that they come and go on their own, not under any kind of pressure.
Nineteen school children have gone missing in Manipur over the last three weeks and the families of the children find it hard to believe their children left them for the militants.
Across Manipur, grieving families of the missing children present the same picture - school uniforms and text books lying unused in a corner. The parents are desperate to get back their little ones.
"My thirteen-year-old child has been is kidnapped. I will die if I don't see my son, and all I say is please hand over my son," a distraught woman can be heard shouting.
"The outfits claim the boys voluntarily joined. How can we believe that such immature and tender boys made such a judgement? They cannot do so," says a resident of Imphal.
Earlier, people were scared to speak, but today sit-in-protests over missing children are a common sight in the state.
Manipur DGP, Yumnam Joykumar says, "This trend indicates that the underground outfits are getting desperate."
The general picture of the distraught families is in stark contrast to PREPAK's claim of voluntary recruitment.