Govt may have to revisit mandate on use of Air Force against naxals


Maintaining that a "war" has been thrust on government, he told a press conference here that "at this moment we must remain calm and hold our nerves" in our campaign to rid India of the grave threat of Maoists and to save democracy.

Chidambaram, who flew in here to pay respects to the 75 CRPF personnel and Chhattisgarh Police head constable who were killed by the Maoists in Dantewada forests yesterday, first ruled out any proposal to use army in the fight against the Naxalites.

"There is no proposal to use army. We think the state police assisted by Central paramilitary forces are sufficient to overcome the Naxalite threat. It is our present assessment of the threat," he said.

However, answering another question, he said, "at present there is no mandate to use the Air Force or any aircraft. But if necessary, we will have to revisit the mandate to make some changes".

Chidambaram was accompanied by Governor Shekhar Dutt and Chief Minister Raman Singh.

Saying that the goal of the Maoists was to overthrow the established government, Chidambaram said "we can not and shall not allow them to succeed their goal.

"It is the legitimate duty of the state to protect the people and reclaim the territory dominated by the naxalites," he said.

The Home Minister said if it is war then it is a war thrust on the state. The state -- Central and the state governments are discharging their legal and Constitutional duties to protect the people and the whole nation.

"Nevertheless, I would say that even as we remain calm, we hold our nerve," he said.
Condemning the brutal and savage attack of the Maoists on the CRPF men, he said yesterday's operation by the security forces was not intelligence based but was for area domination in order to understand and familiarise themselves with the terrain.

"As I said yesterday, something went wrong. Only an inquiry will establish what went wrong," he said, adding the inquiry will also establish whether there were 1000 naxals were involved in the attack or not.

Chidambaram also categorically denied that there was any operation code named "Operation Greenhunt" saying it was a name given by one officer sometime in some offensive.

He also said there was good coordination between the Centre and the states in the anti-naxal operations.

Even the Dantewada operation was decided by the Inspector General and DIG of Bastar range in Chhattisgarh in association with DIG CRPF and to be directed by SP of Dantewada.

Recounting the sequence of events leading to the attack, Chidambaram said, "Five platoons of the 62nd battalion of the CRPF had established a base camp at Chintalnar in Dantewada. A decision was taken that the security forces would undertake an area domination exercise, including night halts, in the area."

The Home Minister said, "It was a joint decision taken by IG (Bastar) Longkumar, DIG (Dantewada) SRP Kalluri and DIG (CRPF) Nalin Parbhat. The actual deployment was left to be decided by SP (Dantewada) Amresh Mishra and the Commandant of the battalion."
He said 'A' Company and part of 'G' Company left Chintalnar base camp at seven in the evening on April 4.

"It was a 81 strong party, accompanied by one HC of the civil police. They had two night halts on the night of the 4th and the 5th. On the 6th morning, they set off northeast in the direction of Tongpalli. At about 0550 hours, they came under heavy fire," he said.

The Home Minister said that upon receiving a wireless message of the attack at about six in the morning, the Commandant of the 62nd Battalion along with 30 men rushed to the place of the incident. They came under fire 3 kms short of the actual place of the incident.
"Simultaneously, another party led by Inspector Wagdi of the 62nd Battalion moved ex-Chintalnar towards the place of the incident. Just outside Chintalnar, that party also came under fire," Chidambaram said.

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