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Air Force not required to fight Maoists: Naik

Source: PTI
April 12, 2010 13:49 IST
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Asserting that it was always ready to face any challenge to the country's internal security, the Air Force on Monday said any decision on use of air power to tackle the Naxals must follow a clear strategy to minimise collateral damage.

At the same time, he said his personal view was that the Armed Forces were not required to fight the Maoists.

"We have the capability to conduct strikes with utmost precision. However, it must be understood that if a 250 kg bomb is dropped at a spot, its impact will be in a radius of at least 800 metres and that may affect many people who may not themselves be insurgents", Air Chief Marshal P V Naik told reporters.

"If at all a situation arises where the use of Air Force becomes inevitable, there has to be a clarity on the magnitude of the force we are supposed to use so that the collateral damage is minimum."

"After all, we are dealing with our own people in our own territory", the IAF chief said.

Replying to a query, he said, "So far we have not been approached by the home ministry for any type of help in combating Naxalites".
To another question, the Air Chief Marshal pointed to an interview to a news channel during which he had said that armed forces were not yet needed to fight Naxals. "I personally still hold the view," he said.

"We would, however, like to add that even though not involved in active combat, the Indian Air Force has done its bit by conducting reconnaissance of Naxal-infested areas and sharing the inputs with the governments concerned", he said.

He, however, replied in the negative when asked whether the IAF had provided the Chattisgarh government with any inputs prior to the Dantewada massacre and, said, "We had deployed UAVs in the tribal state a couple of years ago and provided inputs at that time.

"Those inputs could not have been of use at this time as at present we are not conducting any reconnaissance in that region," he said.

"It also needs to be understood that the reconnaissance by our UAVs will have some limitations. It can give information about a number of people gathering at a spot but it cannot tell you whether it is a group of armed insurgents or ordinary tribals and villagers."

"Moreover, aerial survey may not be possible in dense jungles as the devices cannot see through a canopy of trees, bushes and shrubs", the IAF chief said.

Asked about media reports of the possibility of intelligence leak which could have resulted in Dantewada massacre, Naik said, "I am neither aware of such reports nor do I have any idea of leaks".

To a question about the situation in India's neighbourhood, he said, "We are not involved in an arms race. We upgrade ourselves with regard to what are the needs of our country and not what type of weapons Pakistan or China are acquiring".

Naik was in Allahabad to inaugurate a four-day Station Commanders' Conference being held at the Central Air Command headquarters here in which commanders from units located in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Bihar are taking part.

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