Business Standard: April 1, 2016
Two days after seven CRPF personnels were killed in a blast carried out by Naxals in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, the ‘Garuda’ commandos of the Air Force today conducted a special air-to-ground firing exercise in the insurgency-hit Sukma district of the state.
It was second such exercise in Bastar region in the past six months by the IAFwhich carries out rescue operations and provides logistical support to the police and the central paramilitary forces in the Naxal-affected regions.
MI-17 choppers took part in today’s exercise. Similar exercise had been carried out in Bijapur in last October, Air Commodore Ajay Shukla told reporters.
Shukla, who is Commander of the Anti-Naxal Task Force, himself flew one of the choppers during the exercise.
“Last year, the (aerial firing) practice was conducted on a lowscale but this time it was slightly bigger. We had planned to give more practice to commandos and more rounds were fired,” Shukla said.
“The entire exercise was meant to fire in self-defence. We will neither fire in anger nor in retaliation. If you will fire upon us, then we will reply and reply heavily,” Shukla said, terming it “overall a successful exercise”.
Maoists often fire on the choppers flying over the insurgency-affected areas for dropping provisions or rescue of injured jawans.
On March 30,seven Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnels were killed after the Maoists triggered a powerful landmine blast blowing up their vehicle in Dantewada district.
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