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Lok yatra to begin tomorrow despite Naxal opposition in Gadchiroli

Written by: Staff

Nagpur, Mar 20 (UNI) A 26-day 'Lok Yatra (Peoples' March)', covering a total distance of 325 km, will begin tomorrow from the insurgency-hit Gadchiroli district despite opposition from the Naxals who have asked tribals to boycott it.

About 200 people including journalists, social activists, politicians and prominent citizens from all over Maharashtra will assemble at Asaralli in Gadchiroli district tomorrow morning and begin marching towards Pentinaka in Sironcha taluka.

According to the convenor, writer and editor-in-chief of the Lokmat group of newspapers Suresh Dwadashiwar and its co-ordinator Girish Gandhi, the march is being taken out to condemn the killings of innocent tribals in naxal-infested areas and also to reassure them that people are with them.

Naxalites belonging to the Communist Party of India (Maoist) have oppossed the march claiming that it was supported by the State Government.

Mr Gandhi, before leaving for Asaralli, along with a group of people, told reporters this morning the government has decided not to provide 'Ashram shalas' in the district for lodging the marchers, as the State Secondary Certificate (SSC) examinations were in progress. ''We will spend night in the open. We have also refused police protection during the march,'' he said.

Spokesman Pravin Bardapurkar said the marchers would walk 12 to 15 km every day covering 50 villages in the district and would make night halts at nearby villages to meet the tribals.

When contacted, Superintendent of Police Sirhish Jain told UNI though the marchers had not sought police protection, it was their duty to provide protection and ensure that no untoward incident took place.

Mr Jain said, ''We will not allow them to pass through thick forest areas. We will keep a strict vigil on the movement of naxalites during the entire march.'' The arrangement of night halts and community foods would be made at Zilla Parishad (ZP) schools, Gram Panchayat schools and Government guest houses, he added.


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