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Army not to engage Maoists

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The Hindu reports one of the rare public pronouncements of Mr. A. K. Anthony:

In the backdrop of suggestions for the Army to fill the breach after the Supreme Court declared ‘Salwa Judum’ illegal and the paramilitary forces being repeatedly attacked, Defence Minister A.K. Antony ruled out such a course. However, the Army would react in self-defence if it was attacked, he told journalists here on the sidelines of a seminar on defence acquisition on Tuesday.

“We are there not to fight or engage Naxals. At the same time, the government has given the Army standard operating procedures for self-defence. [The] Army now has a presence in some areas where they were not present earlier. But it is going into these areas purely on professional grounds. They want more training grounds as they are short of firing ranges,” he said.

Mr. Antony was responding to questions on the Army’s standard operating procedures while it deploys troops at a new shooting range in the restive south Chhattisgarh region. The Army has been looking for new ranges after environmental considerations and population pressure reduced the number of firing ranges by more than half.

The Minister was basically reiterating the reluctance expressed by previous Army chiefs to deploy troops in Chhattisgarh. This call became more insistent after the Supreme Court, on July 5, declared illegal and unconstitutional the deployment of youth who had passed fifth class as Special Police Officers either as Koya Commandos, Salwa Judum, or any other force in fighting Maoist insurgency.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

July 13, 2011 at 3:48 am

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