The Communist Party of India (Maoists) wants more people to join their rebellious group, for which it has asked villagers of four districts in Jharkhand to "spare" one child from each family to the outfit.

Maoists visited villages in Palamu, Garhwa, Latehar and Lohardaga districts a week ago and directed families to give one child each to join their fight against the government. They have threatened to blow up schools and take "action" if the villagers do not abide by their directives, reported Hindustan Times.

The Maoist insurgents "often visit our school and engage children in discussions on arms and conflict with the state", said a school teacher in Gumla.

The outfit's demand is said to have arisen from the shortage of rebels in the group after many surrendered and several others were killed in encounters.

Maoists in the region have a record of taking away children from villages in some districts when their insurgents are killed in face-offs with government forces. Last year, 35 children went missing missing from villages in the Gumla and Lohardaga districts, reports HT.

CPI-Maoists' Bihar-Jharkhand-North Chhattisgarh Regional Ccommittee spokesperson Gopal has denied threatening villagers to "spare" their children. He claimed the children are not forced to join Maoism, but become Maoists out of poverty.

Meanwhile, Lohardaga Police Superintendent Kartik S said Maoists are spreading rumours about their demands for children in order to make their presence felt. Gumla Superintendent of Police Bhimsen Tuti, however, has denied having heard anything of this sort.