A fresh volley by Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne on Thursday stoked the ongoing hostilities between the air force and the home ministry over the abandonment of an injured Chhattisgarh policeman by an IAF crew after their helicopter was hit by Maoists on January 18.
Expressing surprise at home secretary RK Singh’s letter to the defence secretary — questioning the battle-readiness of the IAF — being leaked to the media, Browne warned that the home ministry’s approach could create divisions within the security forces.
He asked the home ministry to stop sniping at the IAF, which had been operating in Maoist zones for more than three years “based on a proposal and request from the home ministry”.
In his letter, Singh had said the conduct of the IAF personnel seemed to be “a clear case of violation” of the standard operating procedures. “This act by the members of the (IAF) is disturbing and reflects on their battle hardiness.”
Browne said, “This is not the way to function. All agencies have to work together as a team and pull in one direction instead of finding faults with an isolated incident.”
Browne stood by his crew and their decision to leave the jawan behind as he was hit below the spine and could not be moved.
“The captain decided that there could be a hostage situation if he split up the crew. Another crisis would have resulted. They decided to stick together as a team and get help quickly for the injured jawan.”