The Cabinet Committee on Security on Thursday put off a decision on any significant increase in the role of the armed forces in operations against Maoists.
The army’s reservations on getting sucked into another conflict zone — it is already deployed in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast — and the political fallout of a counter-insurgency strategy where armed forces are perceived to be deployed against its own citizens are understood to be key factors that stood in the way of a consensus to address Maoists.
“There will need to be more discussions,” a senior government official said.
The defence ministry is not comfortable with a major general-rank officer being posted in the states as an adviser to the state government, deployment of commandos on short-term assignments or army experts to de-mine large stretches of roads with explosives planted deep under.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called India’s biggest internal security challenge more than three years ago.
A concerted offensive against the rebels began last November, two months after Home Minister P. Chidambaram convinced the CCS to sanction the centrally-coordinated anti-rebel plan.
Over 25 battalions of central police forces trained in jungle warfare at army installations were sent in.
But after 76 security personnel were killed in the Dantewada attack in April, the home ministry came around to the view that it not only needed more, and better trained, men but also better technological support for them.
But the army says it is already overstretched.
The defence ministry is open to raising more battalions of counter-insurgency fighters to be trained in anti-Maoist warfare. But that would take years.