French nationals accused over Indian Maoist links

PATNA, India — Ten French nationals have been thrown out of the Indian state of Bihar after they were alleged to be working with a charity linked to Maoist rebel fighters, officials said on Monday.

The group, including six women, were sent from the eastern state to New Delhi for breaching restrictions on their tourist visas, police said, though officers were unable to confirm whether they would be deported from India.

“Nine of the ten French nationals had tourist visas but they were found involved in activities of an NGO (non-government organisation),” Bihar additional director general of police Kumar Rajesh Chandra told AFP.

R.K. Singh, the home ministry’s senior civil servant in New Delhi, was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying the French group “were working for an NGO believed to have links with frontal organisations of Maoists.”

Police officials who declined to be named told AFP the group were involved with Ekta Parishad, a charity that says it is a non-violent activists’ movement working for local people’s land, water and forest rights.

“We strongly suspect that they (the French nationals) visited Maoist strongholds in Jamui and Simultala and held meetings deep in the forests,” a police official said.
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