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Rahul Gandhi to visit tribal area today

The Amethi MP and Congress general secretary brushes aside security concerns to venture into the forest areas, reports Soumyajit Pattnaik.
Hindustan Times | By Soumyajit Pattnaik, Orissa
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2008 02:36 AM IST

Amethi MP and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi brushed aside security concerns to venture into the forest areas to interact and share food with the tribals of Kalahandi district on Friday.

Gandhi will be arriving on a four-day visit to Orissa on Friday. He will hold his first meeting in Nuapada district. Later, he will then visit Lanjigarh Block to have an interactive session with the tribals. He will then address a "save forest" rally at Bhawanipatna, district headquarters of Kalahandi.

Gandhi will be meeting the tribals at Ijurpa village in Lanjigarh Block, which is situated near the Niyamgiri Hills. Ijurpa is surrounded by forests and the only road to the village is inaccessible by vehicle.

Allaying the fears of the Special Protection Group (SPG) and state police personnel, the local tribals have also pledged foolproof security by scanning all movements inside the forests.

Former Kalhandi MP Bhakta Charan Das, who's organising Rahul Gandhi's visit, told the

Hindustan Times

: "We were first told that the visit to Ijurpa village has been cancelled. But later we learnt that Rahulji himself included this meeting with the tribals in his itinerary."

The Congress leader will arrive by a chopper at Lanjigarh and then drive for 8-km to reach Ijurpa. Kalahandi additional superintendent of police SK Panda told


, "We are making all security arrangements as per the recommendations made by the SPG. The road passes through forests, but sufficient security personnel are being deployed to guard the areas."

The state government has also deputed an IGP to oversee security arrangements, especially for the visit to Ijurpa, as it comes soon after the Maoist attacks in Nayagarh district last month.

Nearly 4,000 to 5000 tribals, belonging to 112 villages are expected to attend the interactive session with Gandhi. Rupa Majhi, 30, a local tribal told


: "We are very happy that Rahul Gandhi will be visiting our areas. We will ask Rahulji not to hand over Niyamgiri Hills for bauxite mining to Vedanta Alumina."

On security concerns, Rupa said, "If need be, all the tribals will protect Rahul Gandhi."

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