A day after the worst-ever Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh, which claimed the lives of 76 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the government reviewed all options in the fight against Maoists such as use of air power from time to time but no decision has yet been taken on it.
“I think the policy has to be reviewed practically from time to time, learning from experience. We are too close to the event to take a view that the existing policy needs to be modified,'' Dr. Singh told reporters.
Dr. Singh said: “All these options are kept open and continuously reviewed. As of now, we have not taken any view in this direction.''
The Prime Minister was speaking to journalists at the Rashtrapati Bhawan after the presentation of the Padma awards.
Earlier in the day, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who visited Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh to review the security situation in the wake of the Maoist attack and pay tributes to martyred CRPF personnel, said the Naxalites have answered the call for talks after giving up violence by a “savage and brutal act of violence.''
“It is the Naxalites who have described the State as the ‘enemy' and the conflict as a ‘war.' If this is a war – and I wish to say that we have never used that word – it is a war that has been thrust upon the State by those who do not have a legitimate right to carry weapons or to kill. The State – the Central government and the affected State governments – are discharging their legal and constitutional duty to protect the people,'' he said in a statement.
Asserting that the State had the legitimate right to deploy the security forces to resist, apprehend and, if necessary, neutralise militants who are determined to strike at the very roots of our nation, he said the goal of the Naxalites was to overthrow the established authority of the government through armed liberation struggle. “We cannot – and we shall not – allow them to succeed in that goal.''
Mr. Chidambaram said that the paramilitary forces were provided to the affected States, including Chhattisgarh, to help them carry out counter-insurgency operations, regain control of the areas dominated by the Naxalites, restore the civil administration, and re-start developmental work.
He pointed out that the Central forces faced a number of restrictions because of their deployment in areas populated by Scheduled Tribes.
The security forces were undertaking an “Area Domination'' exercise, including night halts, in Dantewada district. It was a joint decision taken by IG (Bastar), DIG (Dantewada) and DIG (CRPF). The deaths were caused largely by improvised explosive devices, bullet injuries and crude bombs and, possibly, grenade injuries.
“Only the post-mortem reports and a thorough inquiry, including de-briefing of the injured jawans, can fully establish the sequence of events and the facts,'' he said.
Senior officers in the Army Headquarters here said the Army would provide intensive training to paramilitary and police forces in anti-Naxal operations in the wake of the Chhattisgarh massacre.
However, the Army would refrain from getting directly involved in the operations being carried out by the Central forces in the Naxal-infested areas, they added.