No government nod yet to fire back at Maoists: Army chief

Monday, February 14, 2011

NEW DELHI - The army is yet to get the government’s nod to fire in self-defence at the Maoists if the troops come under attack while training in areas infested by the insurgents in Chhattisgarh, a top commander said Monday.

The army chief, General V.K. Singh, said the army has “not yet” received the necessary orders from the government on firing in self-defence at the Maoists, but he was sure “something will come” soon.

“We have asked for a clarification from the government. Our aim is purely training. We are not moving there for (taking on) Naxals (Maoists). For our own clarification, we asked what do we do if we are engaged by Naxals,” Singh said in an interview to NDTV.

“If such a thing (attack) happens, surely somebody is going to charge my troops of murder. We are supposed to train without any problem at all,” he said.

Asked if he was seeking a legal cover for his troops if they are attacked and if they fire in self-defence, Singh said: “Absolutely.”

However, he clarified that the army was not asking for imposing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives legal protection to the forces, as the troops were not getting into the anti-Maoist offensive that is in progress in Chhattisgarh.

Singh had, at his annual press conference on Jan 14, stated that the army had sought clarification from the government on its self-defence powers in view of its troops going into areas infested by Naxals for training purposes.

For the purpose, the army, which is setting up a training centre in Maoist-hit Chhattisgarh, has sought a revision in its rules of engagement to legally protect its troops in case they fire back at the rebels since a large number of its personnel would be moving into the area soon.

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