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BackYou are here: NewsIndia Army may step in, chief to meet Chidambaram

India

Army may step in, chief to meet Chidambaram

NEW DELHI: With Army chief General V K Singh meeting home minister P Chidambaram after the latest incident involving Maoists on Friday, the armed forces are finalizing action plans to meet any contingency if their role in the ongoing anti-Naxalite operations is extended beyond the present training, surveillance and logistical. 

"If the government orders us, we will have to step in and take the lead. Drawing up of concrete contingency plans have gained momentum after the Army commanders' conference earlier this month discussed the likely developments and resources required for the anti-Naxalite operations," said a senior officer.  The 1.13-million strong Army is already expanding its presence in Naxalism-hit states like Orissa and Chhattisgarh, with two "sub-area headquarters" coming up at Ambarda and Jagdalpur. 

"Then, the Para-Special Forces training establishment at Nahan in Himachal Pradesh is likely to be shifted to Chakrabhatta near Raipur, where 2,700 acres of land with an airfield are being allocated," said an officer. 

"Though the sub-area headquarters headed by brigadiers are static organisations, they will help if more Army units are deployed in the region. Along with the police and paramilitary forces, the aim is to dominate the 'Red Corridor'," he added. 

The armed forces, however, still remain strongly opposed to being directly employed in the anti-Naxal 
operations, given their commitments in counter-insurgency duties in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East as well as along the borders. Defence minister A K Antony, on his part, has also held the armed forces will not be deployed in a direct role in the operations. 

The Army, which has already trained around 47,000 police and paramilitary personnel, has instead proposed the setting up of a separate and dedicated counter-Naxalism training establishment to train "homogeneous companies" of paramilitary and police personnel. 

While the Army currently provides training and advise to police forces, IAF has deployed Mi-17 helicopters for reconnaissance, logistical and casualty evacuation duties in the anti-Naxal operations, apart from occasionally providing AN-32 transport aircraft. 

On Friday, the IAF also deployed a Chetak, a Dhruv and two medium-lift Mi-17 helicopters from the Kalaikunda air base to assist in relief work at the site of the train derailment in Jhargram in West Bengal, even as an AN-32 aircraft carried a medical and surgical team from Jorhat.