Army seeks revision in rules of engagement in Maoist-hit areas

Friday, January 14, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Indian Army, which is setting up a training centre in Maoist-hit Chhattisgarh, said Friday it has sought a revision in its rules of engagement to legally protect its troops in case they fire back at the rebels in self-defence.

Army Chief General V.K. Singh told reporters that since a large number of its personnel would be moving into the training area, they had asked the government for clarification on the rules of engagement so that they could defend themselves in case of a Maoist attack.

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

Looking at a situation where some elements instigate a situation by trying to make a foray into the training area, to that extent we have asked for clarification on the rules of engagement to ensure this issue is taken care of, he said here.

What will happen if we are fired at and we fire back? How are my personnel covered legally? It has to be decided. We can claim we did it for self-protection. But we do not want to go to the courts in such situations, he said.

The army has recently identified a large tract of land in Chhattisgarh’s Abujhmad for setting up a training centre for its Central Command and has also got an airstrip in the state for itself.

He clarified that the army, by setting up a training centre in Chhattisgarh, “did not intend to or will” get into anti-Maoist operations that the state government and the centre were carrying out there.

We have deliberately stated that we want to stay out of anti-Maoist operations and we will stay out of it, except for advisory and training roles. We are absolutely committed to these two roles, he said.

Singh said the training centre and the airstrip were part of the Army’s long-term integrated plans and that these had materialised now.

However, he said, the army had, in its doctrinal changes, factored in its role in internal security, as it realises that war would be more asymmetric than conventional in the future.

–Indo Asian News Service

Filed under: Terrorism

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