Patna, April 24 (IANS) The 10 French nationals, who were deported from Bihar for allegedly violating visa conditions, had nothing to do with Maoists, claimed an NGO that is itself under police scanner for supporting the ultras.
The French nationals -- six of them women -- were deported out of the state Monday for "violating" visa conditions as they participated in meetings organised by Ekta Parishad (Unity Forum), which is accused of having links with Maoists.
Denying the charges against the French nationals, the NGO said they had actually come to Bihar to meet P.V. Rajgopal, president of the Ekta Parishad, which is leading a year-long countrywide march to reclaim land, livelihood and resource rights of tribals and other disadvantaged communities.
Ekta Parishad's state coordinator Pardip Priyadarshi said the deported French nationals belonged to an organisation of farmers and retired persons' 'Peuples Solidaires' in France.
He said they had come to Jamui to meet Rajgopal as they were interested in Gandhian philosophy. "French nationals were visiting some of the Gandhi ashrams to understand the life of Mahatma Gandhi," he said.
According to him, police detained them when they were on way to Shokho Devra Ashram in Nawada district after visiting Shram Bharti Ashram in Jamui. "They were also scheduled to visit Samanvaya Ashram in Bodh Gaya," he claimed.
Earlier, Bihar police chief Abhyanand said that the French nationals were detained for violating visa rules as they participated in a meeting organised by an NGO.
"We got information Saturday that some French tourists were moving in the interior part of Nawada. We alerted district police that located them as they were moving with members of the NGO in its padayatra and participated in a meeting," he said.
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