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India to deport French nationals 'for Maoist ties'

India has ordered the deportation of 10 French citizens accused of involvement in Maoist activities in the eastern state of Bihar.

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File Photo -- Indian paramilitary force search for Maoist rebels in Nov. 2011 near Burisole, south-west of Kolkata. (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

India has ordered the deportation of 10 French citizens accused of illegal involvement in Maoist activities in the eastern state of Bihar.

The 10 people – four men and six women – reportedly violated their tourists visas by working for Unity Forum, a group alleged to be a front for Maoist rebels, in the remote Nawada region of Bihar, according to the Associated Press.

The French nationals have been sent to India’s capital, New Delhi, via the eastern city of Calcutta.

Tourist visa rules specifically ban involvement in socio-political activities in the country. Nawada is known to be a Maoist stronghold in Bihar. The French nationals have yet to comment on the allegations, the BBC reports.

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Police officials told the Agence France Presse they “strongly suspected” the tourists had “visited Maoist strongholds in Jamui and Simultala and held meetings deep in the forests.”

Unity Forum insists it is a non-violent activists’ movement working to protest the land, water and forest rights of the poor.

Maoist rebels have a strong presence in many eastern states, and say they are battling for the rights of tribal people and India’s poor rural population.

They have been waging an insurgency against national and state authorities for decades in a bid to establish a communist state.

Last month two Italian men were taken hostage by rebels in India’s eastern state of Orissa. They were both later released unharmed. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/120423/india-deport-french-nationals-maoist-ties