Two days after Maoists blew up a bus full of people in his state, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh called them the “biggest terrorists”, even hinting at links with the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.
“I have no confirmation but some facts have come to light indicating that Naxals may have some connection with Lashkar militants. The manner in which they are using IEDs (improvised explosive devices), explosives and weapons with 100 per cent technical accuracy shows there are experts giving them training,” he said on Wednesday.
The same day, the rebels struck in West Bengal, killing five CRPF men in a landmine blast. In their first lethal attack on the Central Reserve Police Force in Bengal, the Maoists ambushed the securitymen
travelling in an SUV in West Midnapore district.
Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Singh however did not support the use of air power against the ultras.
“Chhattisgarh has huge, dense forest cover and is inhabited by tribals. If any such attack is launched, they will suffer greatly. This is not a war,” he said.
But he backed Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s plan to use air support for evacuation.
“If there is a (landmine) 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,” he said.
Maoist-affected states are already using four helicopters for rescue operations and the Centre is contemplating providing them with another 20.
Taking a dig at Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s view that Maoists need to be brought into the mainstream, Singh said, “He was chief minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh for 10 years. Who stopped him from doing so? Why did he not bring them into the mainstream?”
Digvijay later hit back, saying Singh was “responsible” for the Maoist menace in Chhattisgarh.
“He is squarely responsible for 800 villages being abandoned where Naxalites have moved in and for 70,000 people being forced to live in refugee camps.”