Talking tough a day after the beheading of a Jharkhand police officer, Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said the security forces would engage the Maoists till they abjured violence and the Indian Air Force would take steps to protect itself against any naxal attack.

“As long as the CPI (Maoist) believes in an armed liberation struggle, we have no option but to ask our security forces to engage them. We will arrest them, we will apprehend them,” he told a press conference here.

‘Not a war’

He said the government did not consider the naxalite confrontation as a war.

“We do not wage a war against our own people. What we said was that the naxalite or CPI (Maoist) must abjure violence and take the path of democracy and dialogue,” he said.

Counter-measures

Asked about the IAF seeking permission to fight back if the naxals fire upon its helicopters and crew operating in Maoist-hit areas, the Home Minister said the IAF would take adequate counter-measures.

However, the Home Minister refused to reveal any details.

Mr. Chidambaram said an Indian Air Force helicopter was fired at by the Maoists a few weeks back in Chhattisgarh.

Permission sought

Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik had said the IAF had sought permission from the Defence Ministry to open fire in self-defence if its helicopters or air crew operating in the Maoist-infested areas came under attack.