"Don't snipe at us. This is not the way to function. All agencies have to work together as a team and pull in one direction," IAF chief Air Marshal NAK Browne said in a sharp reaction to the home ministry's objections raised after an injured police officer was abandoned by IAF men during a anti-naxal operation recently.
But the fact is that various agencies working in naxal-hit states are at odds. Several states and the paramilitary have complained about the air force's reluctance in transporting troops and in the critical area of casualty evacuation.
HT has important documentation relating to another instance, where the home ministry was forced to chase the NTRO and the IAF for gathering intelligence through UAVs.
For the past two years, the ministry has been at loggerheads with the NTRO and the IAF, trying to shift the air force base - out of Begumpet, Hyderabad to Chhattisgarh -because the worst-hit districts are not being covered.
In April last year, then home minister P Chidambaram had directed that a UAV base be set up in Nandini Bhilai near Raipur in "less than two months". But 10 months later, meetings continue to be held between MHA, NTRO and the IAF.
A senior official, present at these meetings, told HT that yet another meeting was held at home secretary RK Singh's office a fortnight ago, but nothing was resolved. Singh noted that the all-important security issue had not been given due priority by the NTRO under whose command the IAF operates.
Singh also noted that "being a scare resource, optimisation of UAV effort for operations against left wing extremists is a critical need." He also said, "more delays will not be tolerated."
The IAF, in a written reply, said, "The IAF provides assistance in the form of training and augmented specialist manpower for operations at whichever base the NTRO operates from. The IAF recommends and is fully supportive of the move to operating bases closer to the affected areas."
Two years have lapsed and now the issue is with the national security advisor.