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Updated: May 20, 2010 13:06 IST

Defence Ministry to adhere to Govt decision on Naxal issue: Antony

PTI
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Defence Minister A.K. Antony during a press conference in New Delhi. File Photo: PTI
PTI Defence Minister A.K. Antony during a press conference in New Delhi. File Photo: PTI

Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Thursday said the government strategy to tackle Naxal menace was “not for public debate” but any decision taken would be binding on all, including his ministry.

“These (issues like deployment of armed forces to tackle Naxal menace) are not to be discussed in public. I will not entertain any public debate. The strategy will not be discussed in public.

“Ultimately, government will take a decision after thoroughly considering all aspects and it will be binding on everybody including the Defence Ministry,” he said here on the sidelines of the Naval Commanders Conference.

He was replying to a question if the government was considering use of units from Rashtriya Rifles or Assam Rifles in the fight against Maoists.

With increase in the number of state affected by Maoist violence, there is a clamour for involving the armed forces in the fight against them.

However, the Defence Ministry has been opposed to the idea, saying Naxalism was a law and order problem.

Asked about a German-flag merchant vessel with Indian crew on board hijacked by Somali pirates, Antony said the government was closely monitoring the situation along with other nations.

He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had constituted a mechanism for coordination among all ministries concerned with the issue.

“Not only this ship, piracy along the coast of Somali is a matter of serious concern. Yesterday and day before yesterday, when I was in Oman, this was one of the major issues discussed with them. There are other nations (navies) there (in Gulf of Aden). They are sharing their own experience and information.

We hope in future we will be able to more effectively tackle the situation,” he said.

Noting that Indian Navy was in the anti-piracy patrol since 2008, Mr. Antony said no single Navy could tackle the menace on its own and cooperation among all navies was required in this regard.

“We are cooperating and they are also cooperating. All are sharing information and we are working together,” he added.

To a question on the Navy’s probe into one of its officer’s liaison with a Russian woman while being posted in Russia, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said a decision on the action against the officer would be decided in two weeks.

The officer, Commodore Sukhjinder Singh was posted in Russia to monitor the repair of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier and Navy is probing if his relations with a Russian woman had any influence on the hike in price of the aircraft carrier by Russia.

On his visit to Oman earlier this week, Mr. Antony said it was “very successful”. Both sides discussed maritime and coastal security issues, including the piracy in Gulf of Aden, he added.

The Defence Minister said the Navy Commanders would discuss all aspects of maritime security and coastal security, including anti-piracy operations, at their conference here.

“All issues concerning maritime security will be discussed and how to modernise the Navy to cope with emerging new challenges.....Navy is there 24x7 to safeguard the coastal and maritime security. Piracy is one of the issues they are discussing,” he added.

On the Laila cyclone that is wrecking havoc in Andhra Pradesh, Antony said the Army, Navy and Air Force were always ready to assist the civil administration whenever they are in distress. “Whatever help is required from the armed forces, we will extend,” he added.

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