The army has dismissed as propaganda Maoists contention that a military training facility in Bastar region, south Chhattisgarh, is a threat to tribals and their culture.
The army’s mountain brigade, comprising nearly 1,700 personnel, has undergone four weeks of training in jungle warfare at Narayanpur’s Abhujmaad area, about 350 km south of Raipur.
The rebels have opposed the training facility and set its shutdown as one of the pre-conditions for any peace dialogue. However, the army believes the rebel demand does not reflect the views of the local population.
Lt Gen VK Ahluwalia, General Officer Commanding (GoC), Central Command, told HT on Tuesday: “I met the forces of the brigade and spent a night with them on Monday. I found our men have already established a good rapport with the locals, who are happy with the army’s presence .”
He hoped peace would soon return to the area engulfed by Maoist violence. In case of any rebel attack, he said the army personnel were capable of defending themselves and safeguarding equipment.
The army plans to encourage tribals to join the force. “Without compromising on our standards, we will carry out pre-recruitment training for the local youths,” said Lt Gen Ahluwalia.