Wednesday, October 7, 2009

IAF will have to wait to ‘shoot back’ at Naxals

New Delhi, October 6
The Defence Ministry is planning to lay down a set of rules of engagement (ROE) for the Indian Air Force before it finalises a proposal to allow the latter to take an action in self-defence against the Naxals.

The decision to finally allow the IAF to protect itself in case its choppers were attacked will be taken “at the highest level”, said a senior official of the Ministry. The government is very clear that there is no role for the armed forces — the Army or the IAF — in the anti-Naxal operations. “That has been ruled out so far”, said the official.
The IAF is only carrying out chopper-borne reconnaissance, transportation and medical evacuations in the Naxal-hit areas. The IAF chief Air Chief Marshall PV Naik had told mediapersons recently that he had asked the government to allow “IAF to shoot back at Naxals if they try to attack their choppers.”
According to the sources, the Ministry is not going to give permission to arm the choppers with heavy weapons. Also, the discussions are on as to decide what will tantamount to “self defence”. The IAF wants specific rules of engagement as its choppers have been fired at by Maoists in the past. A sergeant was killed in November last year when Naxals fired at a Mi-8 chopper that was on election duty in Chattisgarh.
The Home Ministry, which is conducting the anti-Naxal operations using paramilitary forces, is also against the use of excessive force or air power for internal security duties on account of collateral damage and brutal power projection.
In the past, the IAF, in its J&K anti-terrorist operations, allowed carrying of INSAS rifles and pistols to defend themselves against the militants.

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