Reports reaching here said, citing US-based Human Rights Watch, that more than 30,000 Maoist cadres have been registered in the cantonment sites created under Nepal's comprehensive peace agreement, of which an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 are believed to be under the age of 18.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has however has denied this charge. Nanda Kishor Pun, a Maoist Deputy commander and vice-chairman of the Joint Arms Management Committee, said the charges were baseless.
"We've a strong objection to the Human Rights Watch statement. We don't know how and where they got those figures from," Zeenews quoted Pun as saying.
It is learnt that the New York-based rights group has also urged the newly appointed Maoist Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma, to ensure the Maoists' cooperation with the United Nations and child protection agencies to allow children to return home without further delay.
But Pun said, "We request them to publish statements only after knowing the reality. We are ready to discuss the issue with them."