Cautioning against any “knee-jerk” reaction to Tuesday’s “savage” attack by the Maoists, Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said the government may have to “revisit” the mandate on use of Air Force in the offensive against Maoists.
Maintaining that a “war” has been thrust on government, he told a press conference here that “at this moment we must remain calm and hold our nerves” in our campaign to rid India of the grave threat of Maoists and to save democracy.
Mr. Chidambaram, who flew in here to pay respects to the CRPF personnel and Chhattisgarh Police head constable who were killed by the Maoists in Dantewada forests on Tuesday, first ruled out any proposal to use Army in the fight against the Maoists.
“There is no proposal to use Army. We think the State police assisted by Central paramilitary forces are sufficient to overcome the Maoist threat. It is our present assessment of the threat,” he said.
However, answering another question, he said, “at present there is no mandate to use the Air Force or any aircraft. But if necessary, we will have to revisit the mandate to make some changes“.
Mr. Chidambaram was accompanied by Governor Shekhar Dutt and Chief Minister Raman Singh.
Saying that the goal of the Maoists was to overthrow the established government, Mr. Chidambaram said “we can not and shall not allow them to succeed their goal.
“It is the legitimate duty of the state to protect the people and reclaim the territory dominated by the naxalites,” he said.
The Home Minister said if it is war then it is a war thrust on the state. The Central and State governments are discharging their legal and Constitutional duties to protect the people and the whole nation.
“Nevertheless, I would say that even as we remain calm, we hold our nerve,” he said.
Condemning the brutal and savage attack of the Maoists on the CRPF men, he said Tuesday’s operation by the security forces was not intelligence based but was for area domination in order to understand and familiarise themselves with the terrain.
“As I said yesterday, something went wrong. Only an inquiry will establish what went wrong,” he said, adding the inquiry will also establish whether there were 1000 naxals were involved in the attack or not.
Mr. Chidambaram also categorically denied that there was any operation code named “Operation Greenhunt” saying it was a name given by one officer sometime in some offensive.
He also said there was good coordination between the Centre and the States in the anti-naxal operations.
Even the Dantewada operation was decided by the Inspector General and DIG of Bastar range in Chhattisgarh in association with DIG CRPF and to be directed by SP of Dantewada.