April 7, 2010,
FUNDING & POLICY
NEW DELHI — Many areas in east India are now under alert following the April 6 insurgent attack in which rebels trapped and gunned down 75 security personnel in the state of Chhattisgarh.
The attack comes just more than a month after India’s Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said that the homegrown insurgents, known as Naxals, were regrouping under the pretense of a cease-fire, and violence would increase.
The attack might result in a change in the government policy to involve the army and air force to deal with the rising threat. An emergency meeting was called April 6, Aerospace DAILY learned.
“Deploying the army in anti-Naxal operations has the army uneasy, as it is not in the interest of the army to wage war against its own country,” an official told Aerospace DAILY. Heavy collateral damage among civilians is also likely to spark emotions.
“Insurgency has grown as a result of social issues such as neglect, lack of education and misguided youth that have taken up arms,” the official says. “It is a law and order problem. They [Naxals] are not heavily guarded and not involved in anti-national activity,” he adds.
These sentiments were echoed by the recently appointed new army chief Gen. Vijay Kumar Singh, who said the military was supporting central paramilitary and state police forces with training and logistics, and did not want to be associated with direct intervention. In the past, the army has trained forces in defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), tactics and medical aid.
But now the dynamics may be changing. Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik’s words may hold true. “If the scale [of the Maoist rebellion] becomes so big that the police and paramilitary are unable to handle it, then only will the government decide if the armed forces are to be involved,” he said recently.
The IAF uses its helicopters, transport aircraft and UAVs in anti-insurgent operations, largely for evacuation and surveillance.
“Communication plays a vital role. The military will soon be having its own satellite,” an army official said.
The Searcher II drone, with a 12-hr. endurance and a 300-km. range, as well as the 300-km. range Heron UAV, are now being used in the Naxal-hit areas.
Both drones have day and night sensors and cameras to track ground movement.
Many states have asked for the central government’s help to acquire UAVs and satellite phones for state police to tackle problems in remote and dense forest areas.
- Neelam Mathews