Kalahandi: The Centre would 'fight' Naxalites through welfare and empowerment schemes and protect the tribals from being used as shields by the ultras, Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said on Sunday.

"In the name of protecting forest dwellers, Maoists have created an atmosphere of fear (in society). Our fight against the rebels is continuing. Through schemes for tribal welfare and women empowerment, with a strong political willpower, we will defeat their designs," he told a meeting of Adivasi Adhikar Samavesa at Narla in Odisha's Kalahandi district.