New Delhi, Nov. 3: Army chief General Deepak Kapoor today said the offensive against Maoists would be a long-drawn battle but asserted the army would continue training police forces for the task.
The battle against Naxalites will not be over in one day. To eradicate Naxalism, it is going to take time. It is going to be a long-drawn battle, he said.
The army chief compared the situation with the counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast to suggest such conflicts could spread over decades.
But the army would continue to train and equip central and state police forces now and in the future, Kapoor said.
The Indian Air Force has constituted a task force for the anti-Maoist offensive and its helicopters are already deployed with central paramilitary forces in the affected zones.
The army has been training state and central police forces for more than four years for the job. In 2006 alone, 14,000 policemen drawn from central and 12 state forces as trainers were coached.
A former commandant of the armys Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Mizoram, Brigadier (retired) B.K. Ponwar, is now the director of Chhattisgarhs Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College, established to train the police in counter-Maoist tactics. The army, which supports the Chhattisgarh institute, has seconded two officers to its faculty.
Kapoor, asked whether the army could be deployed, said its role would be limited to giving assistance to the governments, echoing the line laid down by the Centre.
Last week, defence minister A.K Antony had said the government is aware of the seriousness of the Naxalite threat but indicated that the problem had not yet crossed the threshold beyond which New Delhi would have to push the army into the trouble zones.
Law and order is the responsibility of the state governments and we are there only to give support. Whether in Bengal or any other area, our view is that employing armed forces for internal security is the last resort. Only as the last resort we will deploy armed forces in Naxalite areas, Antony had said.
Today, Kapoor also touched on terror, saying the armed forces were taking steps to prevent any Mumbai-type attacks but added that the possibility of such strikes could not be ruled out.
The whole region (Afghanistan-Pakistan) is affected by terrorists. We need to be on guard, the army chief said.