I have limited mandate to tackle Naxals: PC

Replying to questions on the need for air-support to tackle the Naxal menace and the Cabinet Committee on Security’s refusal to endorse the use of the same, Chidambaram said: “I can implement the mandate that is given to me. Now I believe that the collective wisdom is better than an individual statement.”

Specifically asked whether he wanted air-support for the operations, the Minister told NDTV “the security forces and the chief ministers want it.”

He said the chief ministers of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Orissa all ask for air-support.

Chidambaram said he “tried” to convince his government on the issue. Replying to a question about the criticism for being able to develop consensus on his approach, he said: “No chief minister has found fault with my approach so far. I argued before the CCS and I got a limited mandate.”

Asked if he was unhappy with the limited mandate, he said: “I took the cabinet committee case for a larger mandate, I was given a limited mandate. I will go back to the cabinet committee, I have already spoken to the prime minister...

“We will go back to the cabinet committee to revisit that mandate in light of the revised strategy that the CPI (Maoist) is following of which we have enough evidence and intelligence.”

He said the Naxals “don’t make a distinction between Central and state police forces. They simply kill.”

Breach of procedures

 In yet another breach of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the Special Police Officers who fell prey to a deadly Maoist attack on Monday did not follow the stipulated instructions of avoiding travel in civilian transport.

There are clear instructions to the SPOs not to travel in a civilian bus as such an information could easily be passed on to the Naxals to launch an attack, PTI adds from Raipur.

“But unfortunately, the SPOs just ignored the advice and the result is in front of us,” a security official said soon after Monday’s incident .

Officials said “strict instructions” for the security personnel, including Central paramilitary men, state police personnel and SPOs have been framed, which allow only movement on foot on a route that has earlier been sanitised by a Road Opening Party.

The naxals put IEDs and mine even the “puckka” (metalled) roads in order to extract maximum casualty of security personnel and hence the troops have been asked to “smart out” such booby traps.

The jawans and officers are also put through a rigorous regimen of training in trekking on foot so that they can undertake long range patrols, officials said.
Vehicles are only used to reach a certain spot and then the troops are instructed to disembark, they said.

Raman Singh for change of strategy

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Monday said he will press the Centre to re-examine its strategy to deal with the Naxals in the wake of the extremists targeting civilians in a big way, reports PTI from Raipur.

He said he will be travelling to Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Asked whether the Naxal-infested areas should be handed over to the Army, he replied: “It is a different issue”. Singh announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh each for the kin of the civilian victims and Rs 5 lakh each for the families of the SPOs.

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