Helicopters recalled from UN duty to combat Naxals

 Facing a resource crunch at home, the IAF has decided to bring back the helicopters from Africa where they are part of the UN peace-keeping force.

After repainting the platforms to IAF colours – UN copters are white – and overhauling the helicopters would be sent to Gorakhpur in the IAF central command from where it would actively contribute in anti-Naxal operations, a senior IAF official said.

The helicopters will be used for ferrying the police and paramilitary forces inside the Naxal territory. As of now, they may have no role in active combat.

Last year the IAF was authorised by the government to fire back at Naxals in “self defence” while carrying troops or logistics. But regular helicopter weapons like rockets and missile could not be used as they are more destructive. Instead the air warriors can use machine-guns mounted on both sides of a helicopter.

Incidentally, the central command of the Army, too, is going to Chhattishgarh in a big way, which surely will have an impact on the ongoing anti-Naxal operations. The central command is setting up big training facility over 100 acres in the foothills of Abujhmad at the heart of Bastar, a bastion for the rebels.

In addition, the Army would take over Bilaspur airport and establish a training facility for the special forces. The existing para-commando training facility at Nahan will be shifted to Chhattishgarh.

The Army, too, has received government’s sanction in firing back at the Naxalites in self-defence. A new Standard Operating Procedure detailing the dos and donts for the Army has been handed over to the Army commanders.

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