‘Case should not be registered against them for entering forests'

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday underlined the need for review of the cases registered against tribals in all Maoist-affected States.

The Minister was addressing a large gathering of tribal men and women in this Maoist-affected region in Mayurbhanj district after inaugurating an agarbati production centre where women were engaged in making incense sticks with the help of machines.

Observing that thousands of tribals had been put behind bars on various charges, Mr. Ramesh said the cases should be reviewed to ensure that no one was languishing in jail without a strong case against him.

The Minister said the forest officials of different States should be directed not to register cases against tribals for entering the forests.

Mr. Ramesh urged the gram sabhas in the Maoist-affected States to take initiatives for making their villages naxal-free to ensure that the villagers were not sandwiched between the Maoists and security forces.

The gram sabhas could play a key role in fighting the Maoists. Many of them had been successful in declaring their villages naxal-free in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra, he said.

While stating that the Maoist menace cannot be fought with security forces alone, he also called upon the left-wing extremists to participate in the electoral process.

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