Cautioning against any knee-jerk reactions to Tuesaday's "savage" attack by the Maoists, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the government may have to "revisit" the mandate on use of Air Force in the offensive against Naxalites.
Maintaining that a "war" has been thrust on government, he told a press conference here that "at this moment we must remain calm and hold our nerves" in our campaign to rid India of the grave threat of Maoists and to save democracy.
Meanwhile, Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik expressed his unwillingness to use the Air Force in the ongoing operations, saying the situation has not worsened so much merit military action.
CENTRE RULES OUT ARMY'S ROLE
Chidambaram, who flew in here to pay respects to the 75 CRPF personnel and Chhattisgarh Police head constable who were killed by the Maoists in Dantewada forests yesterday, first ruled out any proposal to use army in the fight against the Naxalites.
"There is no proposal to use army. We think the state police assisted by Central paramilitary forces are sufficient to overcome the Naxalite threat. It is our present assessment of the threat," he said.
Saying that the goal of the Maoists was to overthrow the established government, Chidambaram said "we cannot and shall not allow them to succeed their goal.
"It is the legitimate duty of the state to protect the people and reclaim the territory dominated by the Naxalites," he said.
The home minister said if it is war then it is a war thrust on the state. The state -- Central and the state governments are discharging their legal and Constitutional duties to protect the people and the whole nation.
"Nevertheless, I would say that even as we remain calm, we hold our nerve," he said.
Condemning the brutal and savage attack of the Maoists on the CRPF men, he said yesterday's operation by the security forces was not intelligence based but was for area domination in order to understand and familiarise themselves with the terrain.
"As I said yesterday, something went wrong. Only an inquiry will establish what went wrong," he said, adding the inquiry will also establish whether there were 1000 Naxals were involved in the attack or not.
Chidambaram also categorically denied that there was any operation code named "Operation Greenhunt" saying it was a name given by one officer sometime in some offensive.
He also said there was good coordination between the Centre and the states in the anti-Naxal operations.
Even the Dantewada operation was decided by the Inspector General and DIG of Bastar range in Chhattisgarh in association with DIG CRPF and to be directed by SP of Dantewada.
Chidambaram said, "To our call for talks after giving up violence, the Naxalites have answered by a savage and brutal act of violence".
"To talk of talk now would be a mock at the supreme sacrifice made by 76 jawans. Nevertheless, as I said, we must remain calm, we must hold our nerves. If a militant group abjures violence, it gives up violence, we will consider talks," he said.
The home minister said the deaths were caused largely by IEDs, bullet injuries and crude bombs and, possibly, grenade injuries.
"Only the post-mortem reports and a thorough inquiry, including de-briefing of the injured jawans, can fully establish the sequence of events and the facts," he said.
Chidambaram said it is the Naxalites who have described the state as the "enemy" and the conflict as a "war".
"If this is a war and I wish to say that we have never used that word it is a war that has been thrust upon the state by those who do not have a legitimate right to carry weapons or to kill," he said.
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.
The home minister said the whole nation has expressed its sense of outrage at this horrific incident.
He said Central paramilitary forces have been provided to the affected States, including Chhattisgarh, to help state governments carry out counter-insurgency operations, regain control of areas dominated by the Naxalites, restore the civil administration, and re-start developmental work.
"I may point out that, because they are deployed in areas populated by scheduled tribes, a number of restrictions have been placed on the Central paramilitary forces," he said.
WHAT AIR FORCE CHIEF SAYS
Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Wednesday expressed his unwillingness to use the air force in ongoing anti-Naxal operations, saying the situation has not worsened so much merit military action.
Addressing a press conference in Gandhinagar, Air Chief Marshal Naik said the state government and Central security forces are able to handle crisis.
"The state and central security forces are trained to handle such situations, I don't think the situation has worsened to the level of ordering a military operation," Air Chief Marshal Naik said.
"At this level, it is not required. If the state is willing, they can order us at any time, we are ready for that," he added. Air Chief Marshal Naik's reaction came barely 24hours after Naxals killed 76 Central Reserve Police Force in Dantewada. Air Chief Marshal Naik said the IAF is trained for dangerous attacks and not for limited lethality. " We are not trained for limited lethality, but for lethal attacks," he said.
He said the Naxals are our own people and the military can not be engaged against them. He also said it is difficult to carry out an aerial surveillance on the Naxals. Earlier, Army Chief, General V K Singh also expressed his reservations about using the military in anti-Maoist operations.