Bhubaneswar: People in Maoist hit areas in Odisha should be protected and not harassed by the police during operations against the ultras, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Saturday.
"I will also advise the police to see that innocent citizens in the Maoist affected areas are protected and are not unduly harassed as a result of our operations," Patnaik told the concluding session of the Annual Senior Police Officers` Conference here.
Stating that the efforts by the police restricted Maoists activities in a number of districts, Patnaik said, "Malkangiri, Koraput, Bolangir, Nuapada, Rayagada, Bargarh, Kalahandi and Nawarangpur districts needs attention."
He said that training and equipping of the police would continue to counter the Maoist challenge and unless it was curbed effectively, development of these areas would continue to suffer.
Patnaik said cash rewards were declared for surrender and arrest of 514 Maoists leaders and cadres in the state.
The Chief Minister also emphasised prevention of crimes against women and children.
"Similarly, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other less privileged sections of society need to be dealt with great care, empathy and concern," he said.
The police needed to take proactive measures to protect them which would improve their image in the eyes of the people, he said.
Praising the role of the police during Cyclone Phailin and subsequent floods, he said, "I am happy to see that strong action has been taken against those responsible for cheating the public in the name of chit funds and other such Ponzi schemes.
"This has helped in curbing this menace but I will advise the police to be vigilant to prevent such activities in the future," he said.