'Govt may rethink on not using IAF against Naxals'

'Govt may rethink on not using IAF against Naxals'

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram (2nd R), Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt (3rd R) and Chief Minister Raman Singh (C) along with officials paying tributes to the paramilitary soldiers, killed in the Dantewada Maoists' attack, in Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh on Wednesday. PTI

A day after 75 CRPF men were killed in a jungle ambush in Dantewada district in Chattisgarh in the country's biggest Maoist attack, Chidambaram also said there is no proposal to deploy Army for the anti-Naxal operations.

Maintaining that a "war" has been thrust on the government by the Maoists, Chidambaram said "at this moment we must remain calm and hold our nerves" in the fight to rid India of the grave threat of Maoists and to save democracy.
Chidambaram, who flew to Jagdalpur in Chattisgarh to assess the situation, was speaking to reporters after he attended a sombre memorial ceremony for the slain CRPF men.

The Minister said his government still believed that the state police backed by central paramilitary forces were sufficient to counter the Maoist threat.
"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".

In Ahmedabad, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said the IAF will be ready to join the operations against the Naxals if a decision is taken by the Government. Naik however said he was not in favour of use of air power.
The government has repeatedly rejected suggestions that the Maoists can only be defeated militarily.

"If this is war, and I wish to say that we have never used that word, it is a war that has been thrust upon the state by those who do not have a legitimate right to carry weapons or to kill.

The State--the Central government and the affected state governments--are discharging their constitutional and legal duty to protect the people," he said at the press conference flanked by Chief Minister W Raman Singh.

Reminding the nation that the goal of the naxalites is to overthrow the established authority of the government through armed liberation struggle, he said " we cannot--and we shall not--allow them to succeed in that goal."
He said the state has a legitimate right to deploy its security forces to resist, apprehend, and, if necessary, neutralise militants who are determined to strike at the very roots of our nation.

"It is the legitimate duty of the state to protect the people and reclaim the territory dominated by the naxalites," he said."Even as we grieve, we remain calm, hold our nerve, and do not stray from the carefully chosen course that we have adopted since November 20009," he added.

Chidambaram said it is the Naxalites who have described the State as the "enemy" and the conflict as a "war".Condemning the attack, 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 or not 1,000 naxals were involved in the attack.

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.

Chidambaram said, "To our call for talks after giving up violence, the Naxalites have answered by a savage and brutal act of violence"."To talk of talk now would be a mock at the supreme sacrifice made by 76 jawans. Nevertheless, as I said, we must remain calm, we must hold our nerves. If a militant group abjures violence, it gives up violence, we will consider talks," he said.The Home Minister said the deaths were caused largely by IEDs, bullet injuries and crude bombs and, possibly, grenade injuries.

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