Thursday, April 08, 2010

UAVs to be used in fighting Naxals: Report

Updated on Friday, April 09, 2010, 11:24 IST
Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: After suffering a huge setback in the deadly Dantewada ambush, the government is now mulling to deploy spy drones or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for greater surveillance of the Naxal-ruled areas at the tri-junction of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, claimed reports on Friday.

As per the report published in a leading English daily, the deployment of drones will give an extra edge to the security forces camping in the region in terms of know-how, exact locations and movement of the Naxal brigade.

It is believed that the causalities suffered by the central paramilitary forces could have been reduced or avoided if UAVs were used in covering the forest area adjoining the the Dantewada district of Chattisgarh.

The post-attack analysis by the experts have brought to fore the fact that the humiliation suffered by the security forces could have been avoided as UAVs could have easily captured the movement of fully-trained Naxal commandoes, who laid a trap for the security forces.

The using drones in aerial surveillance of the forest area ahead of long-haul patrols, would alert the ground forces and help them in meeting any eventuality by the Naxal insurgents

These Israeli drones, controlled through ground stations several miles away, will give the security forces real-time intelligence and imagery to track the movement of ultras even through thick jungles

The deployment of drones comes even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister indicated earlier that air power may be used in combating Naxals.

The Prime Minister, as well as, the top Air Force officials doesn’t see air strikes and the use of helicopter gunships as a good idea in fighting Maoists. Using gunships to fire at insurgents could also lead to the possibility of collateral damage, which the government wants to avoid.

Besides using two to three of the Israeli Heron and Searcher-II drones, the Home Ministry is also speeding up the process for procurement of Israeli UAVs for CRPF, BSF and ITBP.

The government also plans to test one new Israeli UAV in the Naxal-infested areas as early as next week. Based on the results, the Home Ministry will put three-four more such drones for air-surveillance over Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra.

The Home Ministry is also taking several other initiatives to increase the capacity of paramilitary forces -- CRPF, BSF and ITBP -- in terms of their training for specific duties in Naxal-affected areas.

The development gains significance in the wake of recent announcement by Home Minister P Chidmabaram, who said the government may have to "revisit" the mandate on use of Air Force in the offensive against Naxalites. "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, " Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram made this remark shortly after paying homage to the slain troopers, who were killed by the Maoists in Dantewada forests. He also ruled out any proposal to use Army in the fight against the Naxalites.

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