Rahul spends time in Maoist village, dines with tribal families

March 8th, 2008 - 12:35 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Jatindra Dash
Bhubaneswar, March 8 (IANS) Congress MP Rahul Gandhi gave police a slip by spending nearly four hours in a Orissa village that is apparently a hotbed of Maoist activity - and the administration had no knowledge about it. andhi, who is also Congress general secretary, arrived in the state on his four-day tour Friday and was to spend a night at the guesthouse of public sector undertaking National Aluminium Company Ltd. in Damanjodi in the southern district of Koraput, some 700 km from here.

“However, he (Gandhi) went to some undisclosed location without informing us and returned after near about four hours,” District Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar Chouhan told IANS.

“When he along with his security men started moving in a vehicle I tried to stop them. I wanted to accompany them but they did not listen,” said the police officer, who was looking after his security there.

“I was asked not to follow them. We were worried because the area is Naxal infested and Maoists movements are there.”

“It is the responsibility of the district police to provide security to Gandhi,” he said.

“I informed top police officials. We tried to track him down but could not.

“We were relaxed after he returned safely,” he said.

“I spoke to the driver of the vehicle and came to know that Gandhi went to one of the three near by tribal hamlets and spent time there and had dinner with tribal families,” Chouhan said.

Earlier, the 37-year-old Congress leader travelled from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh in a helicopter and landed at Nangalboard helipad in Nuapada, some 450 km from here, at around 10 a.m. Friday.

He also visited several villages, some of them said to be rife with Maoist militants, as he began his four-day trip to the state, which was earlier called “Discover India” by the Congress. However, the visit is now being described as Rahul’s familiarisation trip with Youth Congress units across India.

Hundreds of people, including women and children, milled around the Amethi MP as he visited villages in Nuapada district and in the drought-prone district of Kalahandi, known for its starvation deaths.

Addressing a public meeting at Bhabanipatna, the district headquarters of Kalahandi, Gandhi said his late father Rajiv Gandhi along with his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, had visited the region earlier and he had an emotional bond with the people there.

He promised them he would continue to maintain the same relations in the future.

During his tour, Gandhi will travel by helicopter and by road to several villages and towns in 13 districts of the state, including many considered as Congress strongholds.

On March 10, he will visit the state Congress office at Bhubaneswar and meet party functionaries. Congress leaders said the visit would help the party regain strength in the state.

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