IAF has role in anti-terror operations: Air chief

April 15th, 2009 - 11:15 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) has a role to play in anti-terror operations within the country, its top-most commander said Wednesday.
“The IAF always has a role in these kinds of conflicts, whether in Jammu and Kashmir, or the northeast, or against Naxalism (Maoists),” IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major said on the sidelines of a book release here.

“We certainly have a role to play here,” he maintained.

Another officer, however, clarified that the IAF’s role could be limited to providing logistical support and not staging full blown combat operations.

He pointed out that it was an IAF transport aircraft that had flown National Security Guard (NSG) commandos to Mumbai in the wake of the 26/11 terror attack on India’s financial capital.

Two IAF helicopters had ferried the NSG commandos who slithered down ropes to retake the Nariman House in Mumbai from the terrorists during the attacks.

Major’s remarks come as Maoist rebels launched back-to-back attacks, targeting those on election duty, in Bihar and Jharkhand Wednesday sparking fears that the ultras may try and disrupt the first-phase poll process Thursday.

According to Major, the IAF “has been requested by the MHA (ministry of home affairs) to keep choppers on standby for election duty”.

On Nov 14, 2008, an IAF sergeant was killed when Maoist rebels opened indiscriminate fire from AK-47s and light machine guns at an Mi-8 helicopter carrying polling staff as it was taking off in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bastar region.

The officials were being ferried from Pidia in Bijapur district, some 500 km from state capital Raipur, after voting ended in the assembly elections.

The pilot, Sqn. Ldr T.K. Choudhary, skillfully manouvred the helicopter and managed to land at Bastar headquarters Jagdalpur.

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