Describing the Maoist insurgency as the biggest challenge facing the state and the country, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in his Independence Day speech on Saturday, urged the rebels to shun violence and return to the mainstream.
"We are taking strong steps to combat Naxalism. I am appealing to them to return to the mainstream," Patnaik said after unfurling the national flag in Bhubaneswar.
Terming the Maoists as the biggest problem for the state, Patnaik said his government has taken all necessary steps to counter violence.
"We are appointing tribal youths as special police officers," Patnaik said.
The Independence Day was celebrated across the state although the Maoist guerrillas observed a "Black Day" in many parts of the southern districts of Koraput, Rayagada and Malkangiri.