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Melinda Gates visits Maoist-hit village

After interacting with villagers, Melinda visited Pradan’s Khunti office and she left for Delhi in the evening.

Melinda Gates after her arrival at the airport in Ranchi on Sunday. (Source: PTI) Melinda Gates after her arrival at the airport in Ranchi on Sunday. (Source: PTI)

Flying under the radar, co-chair and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Melinda Gates Sunday visited a Left-wing extremism-hit village in Jharkhand’s Khunti district.

The state administration was not kept in the loop about the visit, which, according to a source, was part of Melinda’s personal learning agenda. Gates reached the village — whose name has not been disclosed for security reasons — at around 8.30 am and left around 3 pm. All that is known about the village is that it’s located in the Torpa block of Khunti. The region is controlled by the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI).

Gates’ aversion to touch base with the state government is part of the BMGF’s protocol, where it avoids engaging with local administration. Various branches of the Union government — including the Ministry of Home Affairs — were, however, in the loop about the visit. Though her team did not make use of police and the CRPF, a South Africa-based security agency that handles the Gates’ security had conducted multiple reconnaissance trips to Jharkhand over past few months. As a part of her extensive security, even phones and photography were not permitted.

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Melinda, who, earlier this year, was awarded the Padma Bhushan along with her husband, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, reached Ranchi by a chartered flight Saturday with the regional media reporting she was to meet the Chief Minister. However, the only thing on her plate was the visit to Khunti, where she intended to see a women empowerment project run by the NGO Pradan.

After interacting with villagers, Melinda visited Pradan’s Khunti office and she left for Delhi in the evening.

A statement by the BMGF read, “The Jharkhand visit of Melinda Gates… was an opportunity to learn more about self-help groups as a platform for supporting those who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.”

First published on: 20-04-2015 at 01:41:02 am
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