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Defence Min to adhere to govt decision on Naxal issue: Antony

Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday said the government strategy to tackle Naxal menace was "not for public debate" but any decision taken would be binding on all, including his ministry.

New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday said the government strategy to tackle Naxal menace was "not for public debate" but any decision taken would be binding on all, including his ministry.

"These (issues like deployment of armed forces to tackle Naxal menace) are not to be discussed in public. I will not entertain any public debate. The strategy will not be discussed in public.

"Ultimately, government will take a decision after thoroughly considering all aspects and it will be binding on everybody including the Defence Ministry," he said here on the
sidelines of the Naval Commanders Conference.

He was replying to a question if the government was considering use of units from Rashtriya Rifles or Assam Rifles in the fight against Maoists.

With increase in the number of state affected by Maoist violence, there is a clamour for involving the armed forces in the fight against them.

However, the Defence Ministry has been opposed to the idea, saying Naxalism was a law and order problem.

Asked about a German-flag merchant vessel with Indian crew on board hijacked by Somali pirates, Antony said the government was closely monitoring the situation along with other nations.

He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had constituted a
mechanism for coordination among all ministries concerned with
the issue.

"Not only this ship, piracy along the coast of Somali is a
matter of serious concern. Yesterday and day before yesterday,
when I was in Oman, this was one of the major issues discussed
with them. There are other nations (navies) there (in Gulf of
Aden). They are sharing their own experience and information.
We hope in future we will be able to more effectively tackle
the situation," he said.

Noting that Indian Navy was in the anti-piracy patrol
since 2008, Antony said no single Navy could tackle the menace
on its own and cooperation among all navies was required in
this regard.

"We are cooperating and they are also cooperating. All are
sharing information and we are working together," he added.

To a question on the Navy`s probe into one of its
officer`s liaison with a Russian woman while being posted in
Russia, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said a decision on the
action against the officer would be decided in two weeks.
The officer, Commodore Sukhjinder Singh was posted in
Russia to monitor the repair of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft
carrier and Navy is probing if his relations with a Russian
woman had any influence on the hike in price of the aircraft
carrier by Russia.

On his visit to Oman earlier this week, Antony said it was
"very successful". Both sides discussed maritime and coastal
security issues, including the piracy in Gulf of Aden, he

The Defence Minister said the Navy Commanders would
discuss all aspects of maritime security and coastal security,
including anti-piracy operations, at their conference here.

"All issues concerning maritime security will be discussed
and how to modernise the Navy to cope with emerging new
challenges.....Navy is there 24x7 to safeguard the coastal and
maritime security. Piracy is one of the issues they are
discussing," he added.

On the Laila cyclone that is wrecking havoc in Andhra
Pradesh, Antony said the Army, Navy and Air Force were always
ready to assist the civil administration whenever they are in
distress. "Whatever help is required from the armed forces, we
will extend," he added.


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