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No army action against Maoists: Antony

New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) The Indian Army, already bogged down with tackling insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and parts of the northeast, will not be sent in to tackle growing Maoist violence in the country, Defence Minister A.K. Antony asserted here Monday.

"It is not the job of the army to tackle the Naxalites (Maoists). This is something the state governments have to tackle," he maintained while speaking at a reception here on the occasion of Army Day."The Naxalite problem has to be tackled by the state police forces and the paramilitary forces," the minister added."At the most, the army can help with training and providing equipment.

But the operations have to be conducted by the states," he said.Roughly half of the 1.2 million-strong Indian Army is deployed on counter-insurgency duties and Antony maintained it was performing the task due to lack of an alternate mechanism to counter the problem."They are not happy doing this job but they have to because there is no one else to do it. When the police fails, and the paramilitary fails, the army is called in.

But we can't expect them to tackle Naxalism too," the minister said.The army chief, Gen. J.J. Singh, had spoken in a similar vein last week, saying the force could not be expected to take on additional responsibilities that detracted from its primary task of guarding the country's borders.

"On the Naxalite issue, we have all along being advising the home ministry that we would like to be helpful in every other way except active deployment," Singh had stated.Some 150 districts in a wide swathe from Bihar's border with Nepal and through Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh are affected by Maoist violence.

Speaking about other issues, Antony said he was awaiting a report he had commissioned on reducing instances of fratricidal killings and suicides that have reached alarming proportions in the army."Once the report comes, we will take whatever steps are necessary," the minister said.

The Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) is expected to submit its report later this month.


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posted by Bimal 15.1.07,


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