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India mourns CRPF troopers, Vows to hit back at Maoists; forces too scared to enter forests
Published on 8 Apr. 2010 12:09 AM IST
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A day after Maoists slaughtered 76 security personnel deep in the forests of Chhattisgarh, Indian authorities Wednesday vowed to hit back amid hints that air power may be used against the rebels to crush the four decades-old insurgency.
As a numbed India paid homage to the 75 men of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and a lone Chhattisgarh policeman killed a day earlier, there was a grudging acceptance that the war against the tenacious and heavily armed Maoists would be long drawn.
“We are determined to stamp them out,” Deputy Inspector General of Police S.R. Kalluri told IANS from Dantewada, where hundreds of Maoists, who were clearly knew about the movement of security forces, ambushed and massacred them early Tuesday.
Kalluri said the killer squad of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) was hiding in the Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh border.
After laying floral wreaths for the fallen men in Jagdalpur town, Home Minister P. Chidambaram declared: “We cannot and shall not allow (Maoists) to succeed.” He added: “If this is war, we will fight back.”
But more than 36 hours after the cold-blooded savagery, there was no word if security forces had launched an offensive against the Maoists.
Police sources in Bastar region said the killings had shattered morale, and many from the CRPF and police were too scared to enter the impregnable forests fearing a repeat of the bloody Tuesday. Amid growing clamour for the use of attack helicopters to pin down the Maoists, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Marshal P.V. Naik said he did not favour using armed forces against Maoist insurgents.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said all options in fight against Maoists like using air power are “reviewed” from time to time but no decision has been taken yet on it.
But after insisting that the government would continue to rely on police and paramilitary forces, Chidambaram said later the use of air power could be revisited.
Even as Chidambaram held strategy sessions with police and CRPF brass in Chhattisgarh, one of half a dozen states where the outlawed CPI-Maoist is most active, bodies of the CRPF personnel were flown out to Lucknow, New Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh and other places.
Family members wept as the bodies arrived in wooden caskets draped in the Indian tricolour. Fellow troopers lit incense sticks and placed floral wreaths.
Chidambaram, who only on Monday had derisively dubbed the Maoists as cowards, said: “We must remain calm and hold (our) nerve. It will take us two-three years to get success.”

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