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Central agencies failed to curb subversive activities in Bengal: Mamata Banerjee

LiveMint logoLiveMint 17-07-2017 Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar

Kolkata: Three days after her administration told the Calcutta high court that foreign extremists were behind the “insurgency” in West Bengal’s Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged on Monday that central intelligence agencies had failed to curb subversive activities in the northern parts of the state and that some 400 schools had “mushroomed” along the India-Nepal border where “Chinese language” is being routinely taught.

“What will happen if China takes control of Sikkim? What will happen to the region referred to as Chicken’s Neck near Siliguri,” Banerjee asked shortly before her Trinamool Congress party issued a notice demanding that the Rajya Sabha suspend all scheduled business on Tuesday in order to discuss bilateral relations between India and China.

Besides alleging that 400 schools in the Pashupati Gate region on the India-Nepal border near Darjeeling are teaching “Chinese language” to local children, Banerjee said that elements of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami political party were “allowed to enter through Satkhira border (in South 24 Parganas district) and incite communal violence” in West Bengal.

What were the central agencies such as the Research and Analysis Wing, Intelligence Bureau, National Security Adviser and National Investigation Agency doing, she asked. “We thwarted their efforts but the question remains who allowed them to enter?” India’s relations with neighbouring countries have “worsened” because of the centre’s “wrong” foreign policies and West Bengal is a sufferer, she alleged.

Banerjee’s allegation of deteriorating bilateral relations comes close on the heels of Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui and Chinese consul general in Kolkata Ma Zhanwu’s visits to Darjeeling in April.

According to statements on the website of the Chinese mission in Kolkata, consul general Ma visited two schools in Darjeeling on 13 April to discuss potential student exchange programmes. A statement on the website of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi says ambassador Luo met with Darjeeling’s district magistrate Joyoshi Das Gupta during his official visit to the hill station on 30 April.

On Friday, Anuj Sharma, the state’s additional director general of police (law and order) said in an affidavit submitted with the Calcutta high court that Left wing extremists from a “neighbouring country” were behind the unrest in the hills. Though the administration did not name any country, Sharma in his affidavit described the unrest in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts as an “insurgency”.

Key district officials in Darjeeling said that there was “concrete evidence” that foreign mercenaries were behind the movement for Gorkhaland, which is increasingly getting violent, and that these subversive elements were conspiring to destabilize the state. A little-known tribe from the foothills of the Himalayas have infiltrated Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts with the aim of spreading unrest, officials said, asking not to be identified.

Sharma, too, had mentioned infiltration in his affidavit.

People from this “martial tribe” have been spotted in rallies, and though most of them keep their faces covered, some have been identified and photographed, said one of the officials in Darjeeling cited above. “It is not immediately clear who hired them or who was paying to have them here,” he added.

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