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Chopper talk amid search for hostages – Helipads coming up in Palamau, Chatra

Posted by Admin on September 13, 2009

12jhaforest.jpgSUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA
Saranda forest

Ranchi, Sept. 11: Jharkhand will soon initiate a pilot project to build helipads at police stations in Palamau and Chatra districts to regain strategic advantage in the fight against Maoists who have so far managed to use the region’s dense forests and hills to their advantage.

“The helipads will be used for anti-Maoist operations,” director-general of police (DGP) V.D. Ram told The Telegraph, indicating that once ready, the helipads would help in the movement of security forces.

Police officers point out it was extremely difficult to move about in the deep forests as Maoists had riddled it with landmines. The geographical terrain of both the districts, they said, put the extremists at a distinct advantage which the helipads would ultimately negate, adding the state could well plan more such helipads in other districts.

There are 15 police stations in Palamau and 13 in Chatra.

State police spokesperson S.N. Pradhan said Jharkhand had received three Dhruv helicopters to launch anti-Maoist operations and arrangements had to be made for their use. “Police stations could be the best place to construct helipads where the choppers on either anti-Maoist or rescue operation could land,” he said.

Pradhan said the Union ministry of home affairs had tied up with Pawan Hans to provide support staff once the choppers are used. “So we are inviting applications for three pilots we need,” he added.

With Jharkhand getting its police machinery in order, indications are that states have already been sounded out by the Union home ministry about a possible offensive against rebels.

A meeting of DGPs of all states, to be addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is scheduled to be held in New Delhi from September 14 to September 17. It’s possible that the police top brass would finalise a blueprint for launching a joint offensive in seven Naxalite-hit states, including Jharkhand.

A tentative date for the offensive could well be end September or beginning October. “But, it could be rescheduled or there may be change of strategy keeping in view the Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh in October where a huge deployment of central forces would be needed,” said a police source.

DGP Ram, however, said the Delhi meeting was a routine annual affair on internal security, declining to provide any further details. TT

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