Ramesh asks Naveen to free jailed tribals urgently

Bhubaneswar: With Naveen Patnaik supporting NCP leader P A Sangma as a presidential candidate for being a tribal, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday asked the Chief Minister to ensure justice to a large number of innocent tribals "unfairly" jailed in the state.

"Clearly something must be done urgently to ensure justice to innocent and unfairly jailed adivasis or to those adivasis who are in jail on very flimsy ground," Ramesh said in a letter to the CM.

Stating that he (Jairam) had been visiting a number of Naxal affected districts of Odisha and interacting with the people, the Union minister said, "One point that comes out loud and clear is that a large number of adivasis are in jail today, for no reasons whatsoever, and that, in reality, they should be freed at the earliest".

"I have heard this, ironically, from police officials also both in the state and the Centre," he wrote in the letter.

Since Odisha Chief Minister had been working with the Centre to deal with the extraordinary situation that prevails in the naxal affected districts, Jairam said that it is in this background that he has been emboldened to write a letter in order to convey this feedback received during the field visits.

Jairam said that he had been interacting with officials at various levels, with NGOs and with the people at large.

The Union Rural Development Minister`s letter came barely a few days after Patnaik claimed he had been supporting Sangma for the Presidential elections since a quarter of state population was tribal.

According to official sources, Jairam was scheduled to undertake a two-day visit to Naxal-hit Rayagada and Malkangiri districts on May 27 and 28.