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Rediff.com  » News » MHA, IAF row in Ch'garh internal matter: Antony

MHA, IAF row in Ch'garh internal matter: Antony

February 06, 2013 19:50 IST

Defence Minister A K Antony Wednesday downplayed as an "internal family matter" the spat after Union home ministry raised serious questions over Indian Air Force personnel allegedly abandoning an injured policeman and an armed chopper which made an emergency landing following Maoist fire.

Antony also said the IAF has been asked to speed up its inquiry into the incident in Chhattisgarh last month.

Addressing a press conference at the Aero India in Bangalore, he decribed the issue as "an internal family matter of Government of India,” and said, "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill".

Antony was asked to comment on Home Secretary R K Singh's letter to his counterpart in Defence Ministry Shashikant Sharma demanding action against IAF men who had abandoned an injured policeman and an armed helicopter in Chhattisgarh. Singh described the incident as extremely disturbing.

"IAF is actually helping the paramilitary forces in logistics support and training. It has successfully flown 172 casualty evacuation missions and there was no complaint from any quarters. In one (mission), there is a problem. We are taking it seriously and IAF has already started an inquiry and I have asked them to speed it up. When the inquiry and detailed report come, we will take action," Antony said.

Singh has asked the defence ministry to institute an inquiry and take appropriate action in connection with the January 16 incident when Maoists' gunfire had forced an Indian Air Force helicopter to make emergency landing.

A state police wireless operator had suffered gunshot injuries in the incident.

Singh said the conduct of the IAF men in abandoning the helicopter, their weapons and the injured wireless operator appeared to be a clear violation of Standard Operating Procedure.

This act by the members of an Armed Force of the Union is "extremely disturbing" and "reflects on their battle hardiness", Singh said in his letter to Sharma.

Asked about the presence of Chinese delegation for the first time at the air show, the Defence Minister said it was a "welcome step".

"Chinese presence is a welcome step. Even though we have long-pending border issues, both countries are trying to improve their ties in all areas including cultural, political and defence as well. In defence also, off late, lot of positive developments have taken place...," Antony said.

Asked about the plan for Mountain Strike Corps along the China border, he said, "In border areas, they (Chinese) are modernising infrastructure in a big way. I cannot complain because they are doing in it their area.

"Just like they are doing, Government of India is also bound to modernise our armed forces to strengthen our border infrastructure and putting our assets there. It is our duty. That process is on and we are not slackening it. It is not for confrontation but every country should be prepared for facing any eventuality," he said.

The minister said the said proposal has been cleared by the defence ministry and has been sent to the finance ministry for its approval.

After the finance ministry's approval, the proposal would be sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security for its sanction. Under the project, India is planning to raise an additional around 90,000 troops and more artillery and armoured assets.

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