Indian Army gets nod to fire back at Maoists.
The government has permitted the Indian Army to fire back at the Maoists in self-defence by amending the rules of engagement, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Tuesday.
"The army is not there to fight against Naxalism (Maoists). But at the same time the government gave them some standard operating procedures for their self-defence, that is all," Antony told reporters here on the sidelines of a seminar.
An army officer said: "The changes in the rules of engagement entails that troops can fire back if fired upon."
The army had early this year requested the government to change the rules of engagement for it in Chhattisgarh, where it is setting up a training centre. The army wanted to defend itself if fired upon by the Maoist rebels.
The changed standard operating procedures for the troops was for the less-than-a-brigade sized force of about 3,000 soldiers sanitising a 75-km stretch of highway in Bastar's Kondagaon in Chattisgarh.
The force is headed to Narayanpur, also in the central Indian state, where the army has been allotted a 750-sq km area of land as a 'manoeuvre range' for training in jungle warfare.
The changes in the rules of engagement comes at a time when the Indian Army's top seven commanders, led by its chief General V.K. Singh, recently met in Lucknow to brainstorm the red terror issue and voted to leave the fight against the Maoist for the state and central police forces.
Antony acknowledged that the army commanders did meet to discuss the Maoists threat, as the army troops were now moving into areas where the Maoists operate.
Indian Army gets nod to fire back at Maoists | The Asian Age