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Centre considering using air power against Naxals

By Sheela Bhatt
Last updated on: September 25, 2009 10:32 IST
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"We have not yet decided about the quantum of force to use against Maoists," said a senior government functionary while reacting to home Minister P Chidambaram's proposed plan to use air power against the Maoists within the country. He said, "We are debating about whether we should use violence to protect the poor? If so, what should be quantum of force to use against them? "

The functionary said the government was still deliberating the issue. While giving example of Afghanistan, he said that the Indian state needs to protect its people, but the right type of force should be used while protecting them.

In an informal interaction with the media team accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend G-20 summit, a senior functionary took the decision of using air power out of the exclusive domain of the home ministry.

When asked if he approved of the Home Ministry's planned 'fight to finish' campaign against the Maoists, the use of military power against our own people? he replied, "It is unfair to call it the home minister's plan. There is a proposal to tackle left-wing extremism. It is being shaped by the Ministry of Home Affairs, but we have not yet reached such a stage as to decide whether greater force should be used. Naxalism is a big problem, but a decision if the government will use greater force or has not yet been crystallized. The issue (using of air power against Left-wing extremists) will go to the appropriate committee of the government. We may employ special forces. In the committee the home minister will have major weight."

A source in the government lamented the lack of public uproar over the Naxalites perpetrating the worst kind of atrocities in their areas under their control. He said that, "The Salwa Judam was a people's movement but NGOs and extraneous elements have scuttled it."

Talking about Kobad Gandhi's arrest he said, "People have started protesting it. In the beginning Naxalism had intellectual élan.Now it has no ideology, but still it has support." He said there were no plans or proposals to talk to the Naxalites. He said even Kobad Gandhi had never asked for a dialogue between the Centre and the Naxalites.

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