Keeping in view the recent abduction of the Italian tourists in adjoining Kandhamal district, the Rayagada district administration in south Odisha on Saturday imposed restrictions on entry of foreign nationals and tourists into the district till further orders.

It may be noted that Rayagada is a Maoist-affected district. Rayagada district Collector Nitin Bhanudas Jawale issued a letter to all tour operators regarding this restriction.

According to him this decision was taken in light of recent abduction of foreign nationals in the State by the ultras.

According to him all factors related to security of visiting foreign nationals was taken into account while taking this decision.

The Rayagada district administration has decided to stop all movements of foreign nationals in the district in the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) areas for indefinite period of time.

According to Mr. Jawale, the district administration would reassess the security situation in near future to decide whether the restrictions would continue or repealed. Till further orders administration would not issue permission to foreign nationals and tourists to visit any part of the district.

Rayagada district administration regretted the inconvenience caused.

The Collector assured the tour operators that prudent decision regarding this recent restriction would be taken as early as possible when situation becomes normal, so that tourists can continue to visit and explore rich natural and cultural diversity of Rayagada district.

Since February 25, before the abduction of foreign tourists in Kandhamal, the State government had put restriction on photography and videography of persons belonging to PVTG and has put regulations on visit of foreign tourists to the areas inhabitated by primitive tribal people like Bondas, Dongoria Kondh etc. Maoists have alleged that they abducted the two Italian nationals in Kandhamal district as they were involved in taking ‘derogatory' pictures of local tribal people.

Cases had been lodged at Bisamkatak police station in Rayagada district on March 3 against some tour operators and guides for foreign tourists who visited the tribal pockets of Bisamkatak block on March 1.

Cases were filed against them under Section 292 of the IPC and Section 14C of Foreigners Act.

A group of foreigners under the guidance of these tour operators and guides had visited Chatikona tribal haat under Bisamkatak block and had taken photographs of tribal people despite the imposed restrictions on photography and videography.

Keywords: OdishaabductionMaoists