Darjeeling, July 17: After Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during her recent trip to the national capital told the media that China is also fueling the unrest in the Valley, her West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee too has expressed similar fear of "Chinese hand" in the ongoing turmoil in the hills of Darjeeling.
Since June 8, the hills of Bengal have been hit hard by the Gorkhaland agitation, demanding a separate state for the Gorkhas of Darjeeling and the neighbouring areas.
The latest round of Gorkhaland movement has been led by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The agitation has the support of all the pro-Gorkhaland parties. The situation in the hills of Bengal has become a major concern for both the state and the central governments as the indefinite bandh called by the pro-Gorkhaland parties is showing no sign of ending. The bandh has entered the 33rd day on Monday.
According to a report by The Indian Express, CM Banerjee has discussed the issue of "Chinese meddling" in the hills with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in at least five telephonic conversations.
The Bengal CM is said to have discussed the issue of Chinese interference in Darjeeling with Singh in detail.
In her letter to the HM last week, CM Banerjee noted "the strategic importance" of the area known as 'Chicken Neck' in Bengal, which is a narrow stretch of land that connects India's northeastern states with the rest of the country.
In the same letter, she also "clarified" that the state government had never refused additional forces from the Centre to handle the Gorkhaland protests.
An official in the state Home Department told The Indian Express, "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."
Earlier, ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) party general secretary and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said, "There has been support from foreign lands to the unrest in the hills, and we have definite proof of that."
However, pro-Gorkhaland leaders have denied any allegation regarding support by "foreign" hands in the agitation.
Several leaders of Darjeeling, alleging human rights violation by security personnel in the hills, said that the Mamata Banerjee government is trying to malign the ongoing protests by making false allegations including the movement getting support from Maoists from Nepal and insurgent groups from the Northeast India.