Hills unrest: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee too raises China ‘meddling’

In her letter to Rajnath Singh, CM Mamata Banerjee noted “the strategic importance” of the area known as ‘Chicken Neck’ in West Bengal, which is a narrow stretch of land that connects India’s northeastern states to the rest of India.

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | New Delhi | Published: July 17, 2017 5:07 am
darjeeling unrest, doklam stand-off, china indo-china, gorkhaland protest, bengal violence, mamata banerjee, india news In her letter to Singh, sent last week, Mamata also “clarified” that the state government had never refused additional forces from the Centre to handle the Gorkhaland protests.(PTI Photo)

Not just Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has also raised concerns over China with the Centre, accusing the neighbouring country of “interference” in the state. Sources said that in at least five telephonic conversations with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Mamata has “discussed China in detail”.

In her letter to Singh, sent last week, Mamata also “clarified” that the state government had never refused additional forces from the Centre to handle the Gorkhaland protests.

In the letter, Mamata noted “the strategic importance” of the area known as ‘Chicken Neck’ in West Bengal, which is a narrow stretch of land that connects India’s northeastern states to the rest of India.

An official in the state Home Department pointed out, “The area is very important geo-politically. It connects Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sikkim, Darjeeling hills, Northeast India and the rest of India. It will be a great cause of concern if China is found to be influencing the unrest in Darjeeling. In terms of the country’s foreign policy with these countries which border Bengal, the state government must be made a party by the Centre.”

The Trinamool Congress has in the past too raised concerns over China’s “growing interference” in Bengal. Last week, in an indirect reference to China, party general secretary and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee had said, “There has been support from foreign lands to the unrest in the hills, and we have definite proof of that.”

About the controversy over Central forces, Mamata told The Indian Express, “There is no question of not taking forces from the Centre. The issue doesn’t pertain to just Bengal but the entire country. But when we speak of forces, we are given reasons such as that the forces are needed elsewhere.”

On Sunday, two companies of the CRPF reached the hills while two more would be arriving on Monday in Darjeeling. The Union Home Ministry had initially sent six companies to Darjeeling and then an additional four. While the state government had put in a requisition for two more women paramilitary companies, the Home Ministry had sent just one, of 100 personnel. On June 30, the Centre sought replacement of three women companies of the CRPF with three male companies and replacement of three SSB companies with those of the CRPF or RAF.

On July 7, the Calcutta High Court had taken up the matter of the state and Centre sparring over the requirement of Central forces in Darjeeling hills, and pulled up the Centre, asking if it did not think that the stir needed to be quelled quickly, given the strategic location of the area. “The situation can improve only if both of you sit together and sort out the issues,” the court said.

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Kaushik Chanda had told the court that Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) were required in other parts of the country too.

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  1. V
    Jul 18, 2017 at 10:07 pm
    Total mess is created by Mamata's dictatorial at ude , to crash the Gor nd agitation by force using all her available power machines. Seven people have already been killed by by police firing as alleged by GJM. GJM also alleged that a food shortage in the hills are becoming more acute because of supply lines being cut by the angry administration. More and more troops are being pumped in to the area , with intention to crush the agitation which in turn further complicate the situation. Internet services and cable tv services being blocked for almost a month. Look the difference how Mamat's administration acted against Bashirhat rioters and how the same administration is treating Gorkha's in Darjeeling. Thousands of Gorkhas working in our ARMY guarding our border. Mamata now trying to relate some link with China to exert further pressure on Gor nd agitation. Center should intervene without further delay.
    1. G
      Ganesh Chandra Ray
      Jul 18, 2017 at 3:47 am
      Present CM always find faults with others. There is total unrest in State of WB. The ruling party have many groups for various ill interests. Many are currupt. The party lost confidence of people of the state. As such state government failed to control any civil demonstration by state police. Honble high court and central government will have to come up for early restoration of law and order for the state.
      1. S
        Jul 18, 2017 at 12:11 am
        Killing innocent civilian is not an solutions. 1 more killed in Mirik, Darjeeling, Total 10 innocent people , Indian civilian killed by government. Thank you my India, for inhumanity and discrimination and racism too.
        1. Ramamurthy Venkateswaran
          Jul 17, 2017 at 9:43 pm
          While some individuals who are holding powers in different states, have held differing views before they assumed the positions. After assuming office, these leaders went ahead with their pet thesis and experimented their hypotheses and the results are at variance. For all their failures, these leaders and their coterie continued to blame the Union Government, BJP and Shri Modi for all their failures. While Bengal is facing issues with Bangladesh and China a little away from WB, the northern state, Jammu and Kashmir is facing problem similarly with Pakistan and China aiding Pakistan. A seasoned politician knows how to get on with his/her work. Despite differences of opinion, see how Shri Nitish Kumar, CM of Bihar, Shri Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh, get what they want and at least get a commitment from the Centre. TMC thinks that ideologically (if they have any) it is closer to the Congress Party but could not cut much ice when Congress Party was in power in the Centre earlier.
          1. M
            Jul 17, 2017 at 6:46 pm
            She is talking like a Saint now. She is worried about the Chinese interference. What about her patriotism when she is hand and glove with the jehadis who are causing havoc in Bengal.
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