by MANU SOOD
Indian Air Force Air chief Marshal P.V. Naik has clearly stated that the Air Force was not in favor of using air power in anti-Naxal operations, after 76 security police were massacred by the Maoist Naxal guerrillas in Chattisgarh on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference in Ghandinagar on Wednesday, Naik said, “All the three services, be it the Army, Navy or Air Force are trained for lethal operations, with maximum lethality as the prime objective. They are not trained for limited lethality and the weapons that we use are for enemy across the border. Therefore, use of air power in situation like these is not recommended by the IAF.”
Discussing a possible scenario of what may happen if the IAF is pressed into action Naik said, “Let us say that the Air Force is called in for attack in Naxal locality and it needs to fire a rocket, which is fired at a minimum distance from 1500 to 1800 meters … From that distance, we are not able to visualise what the target is,” Naik said. ”Unless we have 120 percent intelligence that they are enemies, it is not fair to use the Air Force within our borders. The basic thing is Naxals are our own citizens.”
The IAF does deploy helicopters, transport aircraft and spy drones to help paramilitary forces during anti-Naxal operations but their use has been largely restricted to logistical, casualty evacuation and surveillance duties.
Soon after taking over the reigns from General Deepak Kapoor, the new Army chief General V.K. Singh had also stated on April 3rd that the Army was not in favor of getting involved in direct conflict with the Naxals. On the contrary, he said that the police and the paramilitary forces were being provided adequate assistance in the form of training and logistics.
Senior officials told 8ak that the government was apprehensive of sending in the military into the conflict because it may lead to failed state-like situation and cause large scale unrest. On the part of military, they were reluctant because the possibility collateral damage in such situations is extremely high and in a state like ours, no one would spare the military if innocent civilians are accidentally killed.