Massive anti-Naxal offensive in the works | india | Hindustan Times
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Massive anti-Naxal offensive in the works

india Updated: Jul 23, 2009 00:20 IST
Aloke Tikku

Aided by satellite imagery, global positioning systems and possibly armed choppers, central forces will lead a major offensive against Naxals around September-end that aims to smoke them out, but stop them from fleeing.

Home Minister P Chidambaram alluded to the offensive in Parliament on Wednesday, saying he was in close touch with the CMs.

The plan envisages taking control of the Naxal-infested areas of states to draw and execute the offensive, clearing the area of the rebels and coordinating with the district authorities to provide basic amenities in the short-term to prevent alienation among forest dwellers and villagers.

“The idea is to give them a stake in development... that they would lose if the Naxals move in,” said a ministry official, who didn’t wish to be identified.

Officials in the ministry said the operation — the biggest so far in terms of planning, manpower and technology — would be launched after the monsoon, possibly around end of September or early October.

“We’re trying to build consensus among the states,” a ministry official said. Political support, he said, would be the key to success.

If helicopters armed with machine guns and mortar launchers are used for surgical strikes, this would be the first time that airpower would be used against the Naxals.

There has just been one instance in the past — about two years ago — when an armed chopper was used in an operation in Chhattisgarh.

The plan also involves taking the number of paramilitary personnel engaged in anti-Naxal operations to above 50,000.

A key component of the planned offensive will be to strike simultaneously along state borders, particularly the tri-junctions of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

It would prevent them from fleeing to neighbouring states — a tactic they frequently use when under pressure.