Sunday, October 11, 2009

Big hunt for 700 Maoists on the loose

With Maharashtra Assembly polls just three days away, security personnel on Saturday (October 10) continued to comb the dense forests in Gadchiroli district in the hunt for reportedly 700 Maoists hiding. The troops are applying new strategies to counter the Naxals in the district, by stationing new troops at Lahiri. 

TIMES NOW accessed exclusive footage of the troops heading towards the Naxal dominated areas in the state. The troops make use of the Indian Air Force (IAF) MI 17 choppers from Gadchiroli police grounds. The government on Friday (October 9) had pressed two IAF choppers into service in the Naxal infected area. 

Following the go ahead given by the government for an all out offensive against the Maoists, after the ultimatum issued by the Home Minister P Chidambaram, 7,000 troops have been pressed into service in Maoists infested areas. 

Eighteen companies of CRPF have been deployed in Gadchiroli to man the district, as confirmed by the district collector. These stringent measures are being taken in the wake of the recent ambush by the Naxals two days ago, where the they gunned down 20 cops and beheaded one villager. 

Meanwhile, Defence Minister AK Anthony said, “IAF to be given permission to open fire in self-defence during anti-Naxal operations after carefully preparing procedures and safeguards. Armed Forces will not be used in anti-Naxal operations in a combat role.” 

Earlier, Home Minister Jayant Patil meanwhile said there will be "no rescheduling " of polls in the Naxal affected areas in the state. "Naxals may strike politicians flying over the region. It's better that they avoid flying over these areas as Maoists may go to any extent to disrupt (coming assembly) elections," N S Jagtap, spokesperson of Gadchiroli police, had said. 

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said the government will not be cowed down by the Naxal violence and warned the Maoists to give up violence or face an all-out offensive. The security forces also scoured the possible hideouts of the marauding Naxals on the state's border with Chattisgarh where the Maoists are suspected to have fled.

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