SOURCE: BUSINESS WORLD
Amid the months-long unrest over the demand for a separate Gorkhaland State at Darjeeling in West Bengal, vital information pertaining to national security is being passed on to China. Besides Sikkim, Chinese diplomats in India are said to be active in Darjeeling as well and have been reported to be working in tandem with senior officials of the West Bengal Government in Darjeeling area presumably to obtain vital information.
If well-placed sources in intelligence agencies are to be believed, a senior diplomat along with his wife had recently been in Darjeeling for a week. During their stay, they had a series of confabulations and secret parleys with senior officials of the West Bengal Government. Officials are believed to have been gifted with high-end devices to be in touch with Chinese diplomats and keep each other abreast with developments at their respective ends.
Intelligence sources claimed that during his stay in Darjeeling, the Chinese diplomat doled out smart watches and pen drives among Government officials. Officials at Darjeeling have been using smart watches to be connected with Chinese diplomats. China is believed to be receiving secret information about official operations in Darjeeling and its periphery.
Apart from paying off the local authorities, Chinese funding agencies have been accused of lending financial support to anti-Government outfits to stoke unrest in the hills. Cashing-in on the worst-ever face-off between BJP-ruled Central Government and TMC-led West Bengal dispensation, China aims to settle its score with India by luring away the leaders of the Gorkhaland movement. As per the intelligence inputs, a few top leaders of the movement have been often found carrying out secret operations along the China border and that includes Sikkim, too.
Sikkim that serves major interest of China to settle the much-controversial Doklam issue is situated between China and Darjeeling. Just below Darjeeling is the crucial India’s Chicken’s Neck – the Siliguri Corridor — with Nepal and Bangladesh lying on either side of the corridor while Bhutan is on the northern side of the corridor. It is the only access route to the Indian north-east from mainland India.
The Siliguri Corridor was created in 1947 after the partition of Bengal between India and Pakistan, wedged between Bangladesh to the south and west and China to the north. Siliguri assumes a greater significance in the light of the fact that it connects Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sikkim, Darjeeling hills, Northeast India and the rest of India.
Since, much against the wishes of India and Bhutan, China has been making its claim over the Doklam plateau – that is the part of Bhutan – and contesting to build infrastructure in the plateau, Siliguri plays a key role for China to explore the potential of a route to make its presence felt in Doklam. The plateau is at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. It has Nathu La on the west from the Sikkim Side. China’s military hub, Yadong, is the nearby city and Siliguri is connected to Bhutan at a distance of about 150km.
Significantly, the Darjeeling Lok Sabha Constituency is held by BJP leader and Union Minister, SS Ahluwalia and when he was contacted for his views about China’s interests in the hills, he confirmed the report about Chinese activities in the area. Ahluwalia claimed that China wanted to use the hills to carry out its well-hatched conspiracy against India. He opined that local authorities were supposed to keep a close vigil on their activities, act upon intelligence inputs and initiate action to stave off eventualities.
Meanwhile, with the recent attack on BJP leaders allegedly by GJM activists in Darjeeling, the party has claimed immunity from the charge of supporting the Gorkhaland stir in the hills ostensibly to settle scores with the TMC, though the BJP is believed to be lending all out support to the GJM to obtain legal sanction for investigation into the alleged killing of 11 persons during the recent violence in the hills. GJM has taken recourse to the Supreme Court seeking a probe by the CBI or the NIA into killings presumably with the support of the BJP. Interestingly, BJP leaders were, in fact, attacked by breakaway pro-TMC factions of the GJM and the BJP aims to cash-in on the situation to the hilt by feigning ignorance towards the on-going political intrigues.
Sources privy to the BJP high command confided that the party aimed at working out two-pronged strategies by supporting the GJM in obtaining the apex court’s possible ruling for the CBI or NIA probe into the recent killings; first, it would expose the dubious role of the anti-BJP Mamata Banerjee dispensation and second, it would expose the nexus between movement leaders and China’s diplomats.
To top it all, whether it is BJP, TMC or GJM, all have virtually fallen prey to anti-national activities by feigning ignorance about the Chinese activities in the area and that too, for mere pecuniary and political gains. In the light of the sinister implications of the escalating influence of China in the area, authorities concerned at intelligence agencies are said to have suggested to the warring BJP and TMC – that are in power at the Centre and in the State respectively- to prioritise their initiatives in the larger interest of the country by burying their political hatchets instead.