In a significant step in the fight against Naxal menace, Andhra Pradesh on Monday became the first State to press a helicopter into service for aerial surveillance and other operations in Left-Wing Extremism affected areas.

The operation was formally launched from the Mahadevpur mandal of Karimnagar district by Director-General of Police V. Dinesh Reddy. Mr. Reddy and other top officers of anti-Naxalite operations boarded the helicopter for an aerial survey of the strategically located Dandakaranya region spanning Karimnagar and Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh, Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and Sironcha and Bijapur of Chhattisgarh.

A senior officer said the chopper would be used by Greyhound commandos. For the present, the helicopter would be stationed at Visakhapatnam.

Briefing reporters after the aerial survey, Mr. Reddy thanked the Ministry of Home Affairs, particularly Home Secretary R.K. Singh, for allotting the helicopter for anti-Naxalite operations. Incidents of Maoists entering the State from Chhattisgarh would be checked effectively by using the helicopter.

Attributing the decline of the Maoist movement in the State to a variety of reasons, including the government’s welfare and developmental programmes, he claimed that people-friendly policing had yielded the desired results.

Asked whether the Greyhounds would be used to fight Maoists in Chhattisgarh, he said they would not conduct operations there on their own. “If the neighbouring State asks for help and shares information, we may think of extending it.”