IAF seeks permission from Defence Ministry to fire at Naxals

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New Delhi, Oct. 1 (ANI): The Indian Air Force, has for the first time, sought permission from the Ministry of Defence to fire back at Naxals while undertaking rescue and relief operations in Naxal-infested areas.

Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, today admitted that the Air Force is waiting for a go ahead from the Defence Ministry to fire back in areas dominated by Naxals, who have been described as India's biggest internal threat by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Addressing his annual press conference ahead of the 77th Air Force Day, Air Chief Marshal Naik said: "We keep armoured choppers in Naxal areas while carrying out rescue operations and try to sanitise the area. We have requested MoD to allow us to fire in self defence."

His remarks assume significance in the wake of the IAF crew of the Mi-17 helicopter being fired at by Naxals on April 16 this year in Binagonda in Gadchiroli District, which lies on the Chhattisgarh-Maharashtra border.

On November 14, 2008, last year while facilitating state assembly elections in Chhattisgarh an air warrior lost his life when Maoist rebels fired at the IAF's Mi-8 helicopter in Pedia in Bastar region.

"The IAF tries to ensure that there is minimum threat to the air crew while operating in Naxal-infested areas," the Air Force Chief added.

"The role of the IAF in internal security is going to increase as its ability to respond quickly in such situations. We are already involved in internal security in different areas of the country," Air Chief Marshal Naik said.

The Union Government is planning to launch an offensive against the Naxals in various states later this year using IAF helicopters for movement of troops and satellite images to carry out surgical strikes.

The IAF chief said: "Of course there is an option of increasing air power during an internal security operation. But unless we have 120 percent intelligence and the opposing party is not a declared enemy of the state, it would be impossible to use the attack option."

Air Chief Marshal Naik further said that that the UAVs have been very successful in carrying out operations in Jammu and Kashmir and in the Naxal-infested areas. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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