Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ANO guns to blaze from choppers

NAGPUR: The state anti-naxal operation cell is finally getting a Dauphin N-3 helicopter to counter Maoist insurgency in the jungle terrain of some Vidarbha districts.

The services of a helicopter were last requisitioned in Vidarbha during an operation in January 2007 when a naxal commander was killed. Choppers were also used during the 2004 general elections.

Sources claimed that a 10-seater fighter helicopter from the central government-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited is likely to arrive in the Orange city towards the end of this month. Apart from counter operations, the helicopter would be useful in transporting manpower, resources, medicinal help and other facilities.

Sanction of the helicopter was part of the various demands by families of police personnel affected by the naxal onslaught. The families of personnel killed or maimed in the anti-naxal operations wanted the helicopter to ensure that the injured are quickly transported from the jungles to the cities for better medical attention.

Initially sanctioned for two months from April onwards, the helicopter service is expected to be made a permanent feature in the near future. "The first two months would help the government to work out the logistics of using a helicopter in the counter-insurgency strategy on a long term basis," claimed a highly placed source.

The proposal, though mooted quite some time back, reportedly gained momentum in 2003 after the state government pursued it. Though newer technologies like Global Positioning Systems have already been introduced in the districts facing Maoist insurgency, the need for a helicopter was felt to effectively counter the rebels in the highly forested areas of Vidarbha.

Sources claimed that the proposal got a boost after the central government showed keenness to help the state with the approvals, when the naxal aggression started becoming a cause of concern in the neighbouring state of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh also. Union home minister Shivraj Patil, during his visit to Aurangabad in the first week of April, had reportedly expressed his eagerness to ensure the state gets the approval for the helicopter to strengthen its anti-naxal operation.

No comments: