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Central team to visit Chhattisgarh

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New Delhi, Mar 1 (UNI) Ruling out the centre's interference in the law and order problems of the states, Home Minister Shivraj Patil today assured the Lok Sabha that the union government would, however, extend all help, including additional forces and armoured vehicles, to tackle the increasing naxal menace in some parts of the country.

Responding to widespread condemnation of yesterday's naxalite attack in Chhattisgarh, by members from both sides, he said a team from his ministry would visit Chhattisgarh to go into the details to find out what had happened.

In this context, Mr Patil said there was definite information with the Chhattisgarh government about a possible naxal strike of the same magnitude in the same region. ''It has to be looked into why the incident had taken place yesteday despite this.It is also important why they could not act into it.'' He, however, said there was no use in blaming the state governments or the centre on the naxalite issue as what was required was a concerted and coordinated action. ''The result will not be good if we blame each other.'' He pointed out that the centre had provided 26 battalions (26,000 personnel) of security forces to Chhattisgarh and other affected states to deal with the naxal situation. It was for the state to make use of the forces on the basis of a plan. ''The presence of of 26,000 personnel is equivalent to army of a small state. This is at the disposal of the state governments.'' ''You cannot expect the centre to sit there and give orders. If we do so, we will be accused of interfering in the powers of the states in the maintenance of law and order. Our constitution does not allow this.'' He said the centre was ready to provide whatever help that was sought by the states, except for air support to attack the naxalite camps, the government had been giving helicopters to rush medical help and evacuation of the victims.

Mr Patil said the naxalite-infested states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand had been given armoured vehicles, to protect the personnel engaged in anti-naxal operations. Another batch of 400 armoured vehicles were being delivered soon.

He said the naxalites had started using grenades and landmines, forcing a new challenge to the forces.

The house witnessed furore for sometime with all the members demanding that they be given an opportunity to speak on the Chhatisgarh incident. In fact, the chair had to adjourn the house for five minutes to resolve the issue with the leaders of legislature groups.

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