Labelling naxals as the "biggest terrorists", Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Wednesday said they may have links with Lashkar-e-Taiba and the menace would have to be tackled through joint efforts between the Centre and the state without use of air strikes.
Two days after naxals carried out another major strike in his state in a month killing 35 people, Singh said the Left-wing
extremists were now better trained and "force" would have to be applied along with development to deal with the problem.
Addressing a press conference here, he said he was getting adequate support from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram.
"Who else can be termed as terrorists? They are the biggest terrorists....Naxalism is a biggest challenge to the democracy. They want to capture power at gunpoint," Singh said when asked whether naxals were terrorists.
Giving details of naxal activities in last 10 years in the state, he said they have killed more than 1000 civilians and over 650 policemen besides blowing up 132 electric towers, 106 school buildings and three hospitals in the state.
The Chief Minister said the naxals were better trained now as was indicated by the recent incident in Dantewada where they blew up a bus.
"Though I have no confirmation but some facts have come to light indicating that naxals may have some connection with Lashkar (LeT) militants... The manner in which they are using IEDs, explosives and weapons with 100 per cent technical surety shows there are experts behind this who are giving them training," Singh said.
To a question, he said aerial support was welcome but air strikes could not be an option in the naxal-infested areas
because it could have collateral damage.
"There are landmines in upto 100 kms in an area. If there is a blast it will take hours to take the injured to hospital by road. Army helicopters can be used here. And also for supplying emergency rations," Singh said.
"But I don't recommend use of air power as Chhattisgarh has a huge dense forest cover inhabited by tribals and if any such attack is launched, then they will suffer greatly... Bombing is not possible in these areas. This is not a war," he added.