Bhubaneswar, Jul 20 (UNI) Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said the naxalite problem in the state would be dealt with with an iron hand.
The government would not allow to spoil the image of Orissa as a peaceful state, Mr Patnaik said after returning from Malkangiri, where 17 policemen travelling in a Mine Protected Vehicle(MPV) were killed in a massive landmine blast, triggered by the naxalites on July 16.
He said the local people, specifically tribals, would be recruited in the police department to fight out the naxals, and if required the eligibility criteria for the selection of security personnel would be relaxed.
Praising the security personnel for fighting the naxals courageously, the Chief Minister said steps were being taken to raise their moral strength to help them work more efficiently in the troubled areas.
During his brief visit to the naxalite-dominated Malkangiri district, which had witnessed two major naxalite attacks in the past 20 days, the Chief Minister met the family members of the policemen, killed in the landmine blast.
Expressing profound grief to the bereaved family members, Mr Patnaik distributed cheques worth Rs four lakh as ex-gratia to the next kin of each of the deceased and announced that the victim's family would be provided with four decimal free homestead land.
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