Independence Day celebrations were marred by a boycott call and unfurling of black flags by Maoists at some places in Orissa on Monday even as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked the rebels to abjure violence and join the mainstream.
“Peace is essential for development. Therefore, Maoists should give up violence and return to the mainstream to become part of the development process,” Mr. Patnaik said, addressing the 65th Independence Day function here.
While the State has already achieved overall economic growth rate of nine per cent with 7 per cent growth in farm sector, peace would give further boost to progress, he said.
The Chief Minister’s plea to the ultras came even as the naxals gave a call to boycott the Independence Day celebrations and unfurled black flags at some places in Koraput and Malkangiri districts, sources said.
Black flags and posters were found in Ramgiri, Lamtaput and Baipariguda areas of naxal-hit Koraput district and Kalimela area of Malkangiri, they said.
Besides underscoring the need for a violence-free atmosphere to speed up development, the Chief Minister listed a host of welfare measures taken by his government for the uplift of the tribals, poor and weaker sections.
Mr. Patnaik said Orissa had initiated several steps to provide education, healthcare and other facilities to tribals besides ensuring their land rights through pattas. Special schemes were launched for backward KBK region and Kandhamal district, he added.
The “Mamata” programme meant for pregnant rural women, scheduled to be launched next month, would go a long way in checking maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR),Mr. Patnaik said adding IMR in the State had already declined to 65 per 1,000.
Steps were also taken to create and strengthen rural infrastructure and huge investment was being made to construct concrete roads in villages, Mr. Patnaik said.
Elaborate security arrangements were made in naxal-hit districts like Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj in view of the boycott call given by rebels.