Leaders of the Gorkha agitation in the Darjeeling Hills on Monday demanded that the West Bengal government submit proof of its claims that forces “from across the border” were being brought to the state to instigate and spread violence, The New Indian Express reported.

“There is no China or Maoists in the democratic Gorkhaland agitation. These are false allegations to defame our struggle,” said Gorkha Janmukti Morcha General Secretary Roshan Giri. “If West Bengal has proof against us, they should present it.”

Another pro-Gorkhaland leader, Mahendra Chhetri of the Gorkha National Liberation Front, said linking such a people’s movement with China and Maoists would cause “people’s rage to explode”. “The statehood movement cannot be suppressed now.”

On July 9, the Trinamool Congress had alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party had brought people “from across the border” to provoke further violence in West Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh, alleging that China was meddling in the protests in the state.