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Digvijay Against Use Of Air Power Against Naxals

Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Tuesday  disfavoured use of air force in dealing with naxalism, a day after Home Minister P Chidambaram said he was trying to "convince" the Cabinet on providing air support
PTI May 18, 2010 14:52 IST
PTI

Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Tuesday  disfavoured use of air force in dealing with naxalism, a day after Home Minister P Chidambaram said he was trying to "convince" the Cabinet on providing air support to anti-naxal operations.

"Those who talk about this do not know the terrain of the area (Dantewada)," Singh told reporters here when asked whether he favoured the use of air force or army in anti-naxal operations in the wake of yesterday's Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh.

His views came a day after Chidambaram said security forces and Chief Ministers of Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa were asking for air-support and he had tried to "convince" the Union Cabinet on the issue.

The AICC General Secretary, who had recently criticised the approach of Chidambaram and the Home Ministry in tackling naxalism in a newspaper article, advocated talks and a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the problem.

"Even the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have talked about using a multi-pronged strategy," he said.

Singh underlined the importance of development at the lowest level to fight the naxalites. "We have to win over the people of the area..." he added.

On yesterday's attack by naxals in Dantewada, the Congress leader attacked the Chhattisgarh government, saying the incident was a result of the "utter failure" of the state government.

He asked where the Chhattisgarh police was and why operation to detect landmines in an important road was not carried out.

Singh contended that the strategy adopted by the Raman Singh government was not realistic.

He said more than 800 villages and 70,000 tribals have been displaced to places away from their villages which have been abandoned. "The whole area has been handed over to the naxalites," he said.

The former Chief Minister of the united Madhya Pradesh, however, appreciated the role of the central government saying it had "fulfilled its responsibility" by providing paramilitary forces and funds whenever required.

Referring to the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Singh said the government there won the confidence of the people by adopting pro-development strategy.

"Chhattisgarh has to take lessons from the Andhra Pradesh government," he said, adding that the BJP does not know how to tackle the issue. PTI