All options are open: PM

All options are open: PM

Rules out using IAF against Naxals; Chidambaram declares war

All options are open: PM

A gun bearing a soldier’s helmet stands as a tribute near the coffins of soldiers killed in the Maoist rebel attacks, in New Delhi, on Wednesday. AP

The Prime Minister’s statement comes in the wake of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s observation earlier on Wednesday that the government may have to reconsider its policy of not using the Air Force against the Maoists.

“I think, the policy has to be reviewed practically from time to time, learning from experience. (But) we are too close to the event to take a view that the existing policy needs to be modified,” Singh told mediapersons when asked whether the government was planning to revisit the anti-Naxal strategy.

Asked whether use of air power was being considered, Singh said: “All these options are kept open and continuously reviewed.... As of now, we have not taken any view in this direction.” Singh was talking to media persons at Rashtrapati Bhavan after presentation of the Padma awards.

Speaking to reporters in Jagdalpur after visiting the spot in the Mukrana forests in Dantewada where the CRPF jawans were trapped and killed in gunfire and pressure bombs, Chidambaram cautioned against “knee-jerk” reactions as part of a retributive strategy against the Maoists’ savage Tuesday attack.

He, however, said there will be no let-up in the offensive against Naxals. Maintaining that a “war” has been thrust on the government by the Maoists, he said there was no proposal to use the army in the fight against Naxals.

But replying to another question he said at present there was no mandate to use the air force or any aircraft. “But if necessary, we will have to revisit the mandate and make some changes,” he pointed out.

“It is a long-drawn struggle. We should remain calm and hold our nerves,” he said, recalling that Andhra Pradesh had achieved significant success in virtually eliminating the Maoists in the state.

He 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 the 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.

Karnataka jawan slain

According to a Hassan report, 40-year-old C K Shivappa from Chikkabasavahalli in Hassan district, who was working in the 68th regiment, was killed in the attack. His final rites will be held with state honours in his village on Thursday.