Thursday, April 15, 2010

We need a strong head, a stronger heart, enormous staying power to counter Maoists, says Chidambaram

New Delhi, Apr 15 (ANI): Stating that Naxalites want to overthrow the established authority of the Government through armed liberation struggle, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said country needs a strong head, a stronger heart and enormous staying power to counter Maoists menace.

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Making a detailed statement in the Rajya Sabha on Dantewada massacre, where 75 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed by the Maoists, Chidambaram reiterated Centre's readiness and will to assist State Governments in tackling the problem at hand.

"To counter the menace of naxalism we need 'a strong head, a stronger heart and enormous staying power,' I believe that the Government has all three qualities," Chidambaram said.

"The Central Government stands ready and willing to assist the State Governments and to coordinate inter-State operations," he added.

Brushing aside reports that 62nd CRPF battalion was ill trained, Chidambaram emphatically said all personnel of the battalion were well trained to handle anti Maoists operation.

"The three companies concerned had undergone pre-induction training before they were inducted in that area," he said.

"Earlier, the 62nd Battalion had been deployed in Bihar and had gained experience in anti-Naxal operations," Chidambaram added.

Chidambaram strongly defended Government's right to deploy security forces in conflict zones to bring back normalcy and kick start development works.

"The State has a legitimate right to deploy its security forces to resist, apprehend and, if necessary, neutralize militants who are determined to strike at the very roots of our nation," he said.

Chidambaram said the Government has adopted two strategies to counter Maoists menace-police action and development work.

"Anti-Naxal operations are being conducted in accordance with the policy deliberated and agreed upon at several meetings with Chief Ministers of the affected States. The two pillars of the policy are calibrated police action and development," he said.

"Central para military forces have been provided to the affected States, including Chhattisgarh, to help the State Governments carry out counter-insurgency operations, regain control of areas dominated by the Naxalites, restore the civil administration, and re-start development work," Chidambaram added.

He said it's the primary responsibility of the State Governments to conduct anti Naxal operations.

Chidambaram acknowledged that forces are experiencing problem at some places to carry out operation due to more civilian presence.

"I may point out that, because the security forces are deployed in areas populated by scheduled tribes, a number of restrictions have been placed on the operations of central para military forces," he said.

Chidambaram said the decision to initiate area domination exercise was taken jointly by Inspector General (Bastar Range) Longkumar, Deputy Inspector General (Dantewada) SRP Kalluri, Deputy Inspector General (CRPF) Nalin Parbhat and Dantewada Superintendent of Police Amarinder Mishra.

Elaborating the incident, Chidambaram said the 62nd battalion led by a Deputy Commandant and an Assistant Commandant, guided by a Head Constable of the Chhattisgarh Civil Police undertook operation from April 4 to 6.

On April 6, at about 5.50 a.m. the force came under heavy fire from the Naxalites, Chidambram said.

Upon receiving a wireless message of the attack at about 6 a.m. the Commandant of the 62nd Battalion along with 30 men rushed to the place of the incident. They also came under fire 3 kilometres short of the actual place of the incident, he added.

He further elaborated that-simultaneously, another party led by Inspector Wagdi of the 62nd Battalion moved from Chintalnar with reinforcements towards the place of the incident but that party also came under fire, just outside Chintalnar.

Chidambaram said as per the primary investigation deaths caused due to bullet injuries, crude bombs and grenades.

"Preliminary enquiries have revealed that the deaths were caused largely due to bullet injuries, crude bombs and grenades," he said.

74 men of the CRPF, one Head Constable of the civil police and one driver of the reinforcement party lost their lives in the incident. Naxalites also looted 75 weapons.

"Only the post mortem reports and a thorough inquiry, including de-briefing of the injured jawans, would fully establish the sequence of events and the facts, he added.

Chidambaram informed the House that the Home Ministry has constituted a committee headed by retired Border Security Force (BSF) chief E.N. Ram Mohan to investigate the matter and urged members to wait till committee submits its report before reaching any final conclusions. (ANI)

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