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Chinese checkers

Creeping up: Teaching only Mandarin, schools with spy tools appear in towns across Nepal border, reports Dev Raj.

patna Updated: May 01, 2013 02:20 IST
Dev Raj
Dev Raj
Hindustan Times

Lord Bright Wisdom International English School does not teach English. It teaches only Mandarin – the most widely spoken form of Chinese.

The residential school in Netraganj, a small town in Nepal, 30 km north of the border in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district, has another distinction – it has installed communication and surveillance equipment that are highly military in nature.

The principal, Basant Kharka, runs the school with 15 non-Chinese teachers, who are Chinese-educated.

HT learnt that Kharka gets his funds from a Taiwan-based Buddhist NGO, China Study Centre (CSC), which is supported by the Chinese government. And one look at the walls of the classrooms — with photographs of several Chinese leaders – makes it clear who calls the shots here.

In Biratnagar too in southeast Nepal, around 400 km northeast of Patna, there’s a fully functional centre operating from Joseph Higher Secondary School. “The Biratnagar CSC, too close to the India-Nepal border, is building a new house with Chinese funds. It’ll also be equipped with most modern surveillance and satellite communications systems,” said an Indian intelligence official.

The Netraganj centre, built in 2005, first attracted the Indian agencies’ attention when they found that Kharka visited China on July 10, 2011 to meet the financiers and promoters of the CSC. And the concern intensified when Chinese delegations started visiting the school every month.

There are about 19 such centres in the 75 districts of Nepal just across the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh border. The first one was set up in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu.

The intelligence agencies are worried about the CSC’s increasing influence in Nepal, since the organisation is known for propagating anti-Indian Chinese rhetoric on Taiwan and Tibet.

The CSC website projects itself as a premier China-focused organisation in Nepal. It was founded in 1999 with Madan Regmi — a known pro-Chinese intellectual — as its founder chairman.

In 2008, a high-level delegation from China conducted its first policy dialogue with the CSC functionaries in Nepal and the CSC signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Association for International Friendly Contact (CAIFC).

Former ambassador to Nepal VK Grover said, “China is using the CSC to extend its interests as well as check and negate the influence of India in Nepal.”

What is alarming the Indian authorities most is the CSC’s long-term plan to create hostilities towards the pro-Indian Madhesias of the Terai region — marshy land at the foot of the Himalayas — along the India-Nepal border.

First Published: May 01, 2013 00:06 IST