The Centre on Tuesday ruled out use of air power in the fight against Naxalites and admitted obviously some element of failure in the operations led to the killing of 70 security personnel in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday.
“I don’t think we need to use air power at the moment (in the anti-naxal operation). We can manage with what we have.
Our strategy is unfolding and we should be able to manage without air power,” Home Secretary Gopal K. Pillai told reporters here.
However, he made it clear that the air power will be used only for evacuation and for mobility of troops.
In a brief statement, the Home Secretary said that there was some element of failure in the operation.
"Preliminary reports indicate that the CPI(Maoists) had planted pressure bombs in surrounding areas where the security forces might take cover. As a result of this bulk of the casualties have taken place," he said.
Mr. Pillai said all the 82 personnel who had participated in the operation have been accounted for and none has been captured by the Maoists.
He called the Maoists "murderers" and said the government's resolve was strengthened and it would continue to tackle the Maoist menace as planned.
The Home Secretary said the CRPF personnel returning to its base camp after two days of operations when the early hours of this morning it came under fire from hill features just about four kilometres from its base camp.
"As of now 74 CRPF personnel, including a Deputy Commandant and an Assistant Commandant and a Head Constable of state police force have died. Seven injured have been brought to Jagdalpur," he said.
He said those who have gone from the base camp — to rescue the attacked team, also came under fire.
"One of the helicopter which has been dispatched to bring in the injured personnel also came under fire from the Maoists," he said.
Mr. Pillai said the resolve of the Central government to tackle the Maoist menace further strengthened with this incident.
"All I can say at this moment is that our resolve is firm and in the coming days and months, we will give a much firmer and fitting resolve to the murderers," he said.
The Home Secretary said a high-level team of officials including DG (CRPF), DGP (Chattisgarh), Home Secretary (Chattisgarh), Joint Secretary (Naxal Management) from Union Home Ministry have already reached the site of the incident.
"An AN-32 aircraft has been sent to bring the bodies back to Delhi," Mr. Pillai said.
Calling the incident "regrettable", he expressed sympathies for the personnel who lost their lives in the
"MHA, in one of its first advertisement, had indicated that Maoists are nothing but murderers. The incident today reinforces this as also the other hundreds of people, innocent civilians and tribals that they have killed in past few months and years," Mr. Pillai said.
The Home Secretary said recently there were some successes against naxals as a number of its polit bureau members, central committee members, zonal committee members have been arrested.
"In the coming days, more of these will come under arrest and taken into custody. We will clearly like to state
that Maoist ideology is a dead-end ideology," he said.