New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday
said the Army was venturing into the naxal-infested areas of
Chhattisgarh only for training and had been provided with
guidelines for self-defence while operating in the region.
"We are there not to fight or engage naxals. At the same
time, government has given them (Army) Standard Operating
Procedures for self-defence," Antony told reporters here,
stressing that the purpose of locating Army units in the
Narayangarh ranges of Chhattisgarh was not to engage naxals.
"Army is now having presence in some of the areas where
they were not present earlier. But it is going into these
areas purely on professional grounds. They want more training
grounds (as) they are short of firing ranges," he said.
The Minister was responding to queries on Rules of
Engagement which were sought by the Army before stationing its
troops in the forest area of Narayangarh ranges.
Over the last two and half decades, the number of field
firing ranges available to the Army has shrunk from 104 to 40.
The scenario is expected to worsen as the notifications of
more such ranges are nearing their expiry dates.