Gorkhaland unrest feeding China’s interests

China could exploit the unrest between the Gorkhas and the Bengal government to fuel unrest in the Northeast.

Published: 28th August 2017 07:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th August 2017 07:37 AM   |  A+A-

Gorkhaland supporters take part in a mass rally at Mirik in Darjeeling. (File | PTI)

Gorkhaland supporters take part in a mass rally at Mirik in Darjeeling. (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Amid the ongoing Doklam standoff, China has stepped up monitoring the Darjeeling unrest with its intelligence agencies regularly keeping tabs on social media pages related to the developments in the hill district of West Bengal.  Chinese agencies are also suspected to be communicating with Naga insurgents who have been frequenting Nepal since the Doklam crisis.  

Assessments suggest China could be aiming to exploit the faultlines between the Gorkhas and the West Bengal administration to fuel unrest in the Northeast. China could also be seeking to use the ethnic links between Gorkhas of Nepal and India.

Gorkhas constitute a large part of the Indian armed forces. Chinese agencies could be aiming to use disgruntled Gorkhas from Darjeeling with the twin agenda of keeping a part of the Indian armed forces engaged in containing the unrest and also for other tactical ends, a senior intelligence official said.

There has been a long history of illegal smuggling of arms and ammunition from Yunnan province of China to the Northeast, which has been facing insurgency for decades. Renewed Chinese activities could be aimed at redoubling the efforts to revive insurgency in the Northeast, officials said.

Chinese intelligence modules have penetrated Buddhist monasteries along the Indo-Bhutan border. At least two to three dozen Buddhist monasteries have come up along the border during the last five years—from eastern Sikkim to Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. The growth has been disproportionate to the followers of Buddhism.

Intelligence audits suggest the monasteries could be involved in gathering intelligence and indoctrinating the local population. The unusual growth of monasteries along the Silk Route in East Sikkim, Kalimpong sub-division of Darjeeling and Malbazar sub-division and parts of Alipurduar sub-division of Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal is being monitored by Indian agencies.

A senior official of the Ministry of Home Affairs said, “Geopolitical location of these areas and its strategic importance from China’s viewpoint make these developments a matter of concern.”
Beijing has also been running about 24 China Study Centres on the Nepalese side of the border to influence the Terai population. China could use these centres as launching pads for exploiting the ethnic link between Nepalese population in Nepal and India.

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