Jharkhand developing helipads to aid anti-Maoist operations

Ranchi, May 24 (IANS) Jharkhand is developing helipads in remote areas of the state to aid surveillance and operations against Maoist guerrillas, Inspector General (operations) M.S. Bhatia said on Tuesday.

“Some helipads have been constructed and some are under construction. The idea is to sharpen operations against Maoists, save time in moving troops and alleviate the threat posed by landmines,” Bhatia told IANS.

According to police sources, 13 places have been identified where such helipads are being constructed.

Over 700 security personnel have been killed in Jharkhand on account of Maoist insurgency since 2000 when the state was created. About 60 percent of that death toll has been attributed to landmine blasts.

The security forces battling the insurgency are faced with a difficult and dangerous terrain, including dense forests. Some of the jungles are situated on hills. Many of the remote areas have nothing resembling motorable roads.

All land movements of the security personnel in the Maoist zone are threatened with the possibility of landmine blasts and ambushes. In some areas security personnel have to footslog more than 15 to 20 km which causes fatigue, making them more vulnerable to Maoist attacks.

“Maoist guerrillas tend to plant landmines along non-tarred roads,” said a police official.

Helipads will reduce the troops’ reliance on land movements and improve access to remote areas.

“In cases of emergency evacuation, airlifting will also become easier. The anti-Maoist operations will get strengthened without the risk of loss of lives of the security forces,” said Bhatia.

Helipad construction will help in keeping eye on the movement of the Maoists, said the police sources.

Maoist guerrillas are active in 18 of the 24 districts of the state.



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