Union minister of state for external affairs General (retd) V K Singh opposed deployment of the Army in Maoist-affected areas Tuesday, saying that the use of armed forces against "our own citizens" would "tarnish" its image.
"There are lots of things to do to overcome the menace of Maoism. Deploying the Army is not the answer. If armed forces are deployed there (Maoist hit areas) they will shoot our own citizens. This would tarnish the reputation and image of the Army," Singh, former Army chief, said, replying to queries during a discussion based on his autobiography titled 'Courage and Conviction'.
Recalling a meeting he had with former union home minister P Chidambaram after the 2010 Maoist attack in Tadmetla (Chhattisgarh), in which 76 troopers were killed, he said, "During that meeting I told the Minister that we have to introspect to know the cause (behind Maoism)".
"Chidambaram told me that I was not in favour of deploying the Army to tackle Maoism. I told him that the problem is not that the Army doesn't want to go there (Maoist-hit region) but what message would go out if we deployed the Army there," Singh said.
"I had even told the then defence minister that the Army should be deployed only if there is a threat to national security, particularly from any other country," he said.
Singh's statement comes in the wake of a series of Maoist attacks in Chhattisgarh in the last three days, in which 13 security personnel were killed. The external affairs ministry had 29 files and the PMO had 60, he added.