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SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 2, No. 12, October 6, 2003

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal



ASSESSMENT

INDIA

Andhra Pradesh: Violence Without End
Nihar Nayak
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

On October 1, 2003, Left Wing Extremists - called Naxalites - of the People's War Group (PWG) failed in an attempt to assassinate the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh (AP), N. Chandra Babu Naidu in one of the worst incidents in an unending sequence of violence that has plagued Andhra Pradesh for decades. The Chief Minister escaped narrowly when a powerful landmine ripped through his motorcade on a forest road between Tirupati and Tirumala in Chittoor district, injuring five persons including the State's Information Technology Minister B. Gopalakrishna Reddy.

The PWG itself has been in existence and engaged in continuous violence since 1980, and is presently joined by some two dozen Naxalite groups that are active, not just in Andhra Pradesh, but eight other States as well.

This was the second attempt on Naidu's life by the PWG, with the first occurring in 1998 near Kathlapur village of Karimnagar district, while he was campaigning for the Metpally Assembly by-election. Naidu has topped the Naxalite hit list ever since he re-imposed the ban on the group in July 1996.

In a four-page statement published in vernacular dailies on October 3, 2003, the PWG State secretary Ramakrishna and two others claimed responsibility for the attack and defended their action saying "it was a judicious move to eliminate a person who has been perpetuating state sponsored violence." Their statement also described Naidu as a "World Bank agent."

The PWG has carried out several such blasts in the past, particularly targeting politicians and police officials. In March 2000, the then State Panchayat Raj Minister, A. Madhav Reddy, was killed in a landmine blast at Ghatkesar near Hyderabad. Other important personalities, who have been assassinated by the group so far include former speaker Duddilla Sripada Rao, liquor baron and Member of Parliament Magunta Subbirama Reddy, Minister Hayagreeva Charry, State legislators Ragya Naik, S. Chenna Reddy, Malhara Rao, and Palvai Purushottam Rao, besides three officers of the Indian Police Service: K.S. Vyas, Umesh Chandra and Pradesi Naidu. Several major attacks have also been executed against leaders of Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP), including:

  • On March 16, 2003, Naxalites of the PWG killed TDP Gundala mandal (administrative unit) convenor Vagaboina Jaggaiah, in Guntur district.
  • On February 9, 2003, a senior activist of the TDP was beaten to death by Naxalites of the PWG at Kambalapalli, Nalgonda district.
  • On December 13, 2002, PWG cadres killed Bommapur Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) member at a village in Mahadevpur mandal in Andhra Pradesh.
  • On September 17-18, 2002, PWG cadres killed the Anantagiri mandal unit president of the TDP at his house in Anantagiri, Visakhapatnam district.

Total fatalities in Naxalite related violence in Andhra Pradesh since 1990 amount to 4,546, including 2,025 civilians, 454 security forces personnel and 2,067 extremists. During the current year, till October 1, 2003, there were 314 incidents of Naxalite violence in the State in which a total of 224 persons, including 75 civilians, 17 security force personnel and 132 Naxalites were killed. In the year 2002, there were 727 incidents of Naxalite violence in which a total of 191 persons including 88 civilians, 16 security force personnel and 87 extremists, were killed. Significantly, over 90 per cent of the civilian casualties inflicted by the PWG are drawn from the very classes - the poor and the dispossessed - whose rights the extremists claim to be fighting for.

There have also been a large number of attacks on government properties. During the current year, till March 31, 2003, property worth Rs 202,067,000 was destroyed by the Naxalites. Damage to properties by Left Wing extremists in Andhra Pradesh last year amounted to Rs 109,083,000. Between January 1990 and March 31, 2000, total damage inflicted on property by these groups amounted to Rs. 1,121,736,465.

The PWG is the most powerful Naxalite group in Andhra Pradesh, with a presence in all the 23 districts of the State, though such a presence is marginal in at least some of these. The group, however, claims that it has established 'special guerrilla zones' of domination in North Telengana, South Telengana, Nallama and the North Coastal regions.

The PWG took birth in the forests of the northernmost coastal district of Srikakulam neighbouring Orissa in 1980, when Kondapalli Seetharamaiah united some 18 Left Wing extremist groupings - survivors of the Naxalite movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. But as the pressure from the police, particularly the anti-extremist commando force - known as Greyhounds - mounted, the Naxalites shifted base to the southern parts of the State, which hitherto had served only as a sanctuary. According to the Andhra Pradesh Police, the PWG has some 7,000 underground cadres trained in the use of weapons, including AK-47 rifles and landmines. Intelligence sources indicate that the PWG has assembled 16 action teams, most of them including women.

While the group has suffered several reverses in the North Telangana region - including Khammam, Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adiliabad - its activities have been on the rise in other parts of the State such as the Palandu region of Guntur district in South Coastal Andhra, the Nalamalla forest areas, and in North Coastal Andhra - including East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam. There has also been a surge of Naxal activity on the Orissa border with reports indicating considerable militarisation of the PWG in the area. The PWG, which suffered humiliating setbacks in the Telangana districts, has been trying to stage a comeback in the State by targeting public officials.

Left Wing extremism extending across areas in nine Indian States constitutes perhaps the largest single internal security challenge in the country after terrorism in Kashmir, but has only fitfully engaged the attention of policy makers in the affected States or in the Central Government. Significantly, the list of affected States includes three that are among the economically better-off States in the country: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. As heightened concerns, both domestic and international, immediately after the October 1 attack on Naidu indicated, Left Wing extremist violence constitutes significant risks in these States, and can have a direct impact on foreign and domestic investment in these States. Areas where Naxalite activity has been strongest over the decades are also those that have suffered the greatest economic stagnation, with quality of life indices among the poor often worsening over time, as indiscriminate violence drives out investment and entrepreneurship.

Last year, the Union Government had set up a committee headed by the Union Home Secretary to coordinate action with various affected States to end the activities of these groups. Directors General of police and Chief Secretaries of these States were members of the Committee. The Committee found that the Left Wing extremist groups were restructuring to establish domination in the North Coastal, South Coastal and Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh; southern parts of Orissa; Jharkhand and north Bihar; and the coastal areas of West Bengal and Orissa.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs records indicate that, over the past decade, the Central Government has released nearly Rs. 967 million to various States to curb the Naxalite menace, but the sphere of Left Wing extremism appears, instead, to be widening. The Ministry's Annual Report notes, "The Left-wing extremist groups have been making concerted efforts to militarize their cadres through formation of special guerrilla squads and extend their activities over larger areas of the country."

The PWG has linkages with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist (CPN-M). PWG cadres have received training in the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from the LTTE in the late 1980s. The districts bordering the Indo-Nepal border have now become very vulnerable because of the continuing violence in Nepal. Available evidence suggests that both the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and the PWG are establishing close linkages with the CPN-M to further expand, consolidate and unify Maoist movements across South Asia. Both are members of the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA), whose formation was announced in July 2001. The growing linkages between the MCC, the PWG, and the Nepali Maoists are part of their larger strategy to create a 'Compact Revolutionary Zone' (CRZ) stretching across Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar, to Nepal.

Though the extremist squads have been withdrawn from the plains of Telangana - the 'Naxalite heartland' till the beginning of this millennium - the PWG has been making a determined effort to gain ground in other districts, while trying simultaneously to regain lost ground in Telangana region. The unmistakable message the PWG has now sent across the State and beyond is that it remains a potent force, and can target the political leadership at the highest level.

According to preliminary reports, a trial run of the attack on Naidu had been carried out in the presence of PWG General Secretary, Muppala Laxmana Rao alias Ganapathi, and other 'central committee' members at a training camp in Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh. A PWG source disclosed that top Naxalite leaders Patel Sudhakar Reddy, Satyam, Sakhamuri Appa Rao and eight others were assigned the task of planning the ambush, and a special team of the People's Guerrilla Army (PGA), the military wing of the PWG, was set up for the operation.

The state Home Minister, T. Devender Goud, has ruled out further dialogue with the PWG, stating, "There is no scope for repeating the exercise as they are targeting people for outright killing.'' In a corresponding move, the Union Minister of State for Home, Chinmayananda Swami, on October 2, 2003, mooted the proposal of forming a Unified Commando Force for all the Naxalite infested States to further strengthen security measures in these States.

The near-success of the attempt on the life of Andhra Pradesh's most protected politician will certainly bolster the sagging morale of the PWG cadres. With the State Government and Police hardening their stance against the group, an escalation in violence from both sides appears imminent in the immediate future.

 

NEWS BRIEFS


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
September 29-October 5, 2003

 
Civilian
Security Force Personnel
Terrorist
Total

BANGLADESH

4
0
0
4

INDIA

     Arunachal      Pradesh

0
0
1
1

     Assam

3
0
0
3

     Jammu &
     Kashmir

9
6
37
52

     Left-wing
     Extremism

4
1
6
11

     Manipur

0
0
1
1

     Tripura

9
0
1
10

Total (INDIA)

25
7
46
78

NEPAL

21
8
95
124

PAKISTAN

6
2
12
20
*   Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.



BANGLADESH


BDR seizes 875 kg of illegal explosives in Chapainawabganj district: Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) personnel reportedly seized 875 kg of illegal explosives during a raid at a private warehouse in the Sona Masjid land port in Chapainawabganj district on October 1, 2003. However, no arrests have been made thus far in this connection. Daily Star, October 2, 2003.


INDIA


Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister survives assassination attempt by Naxalites at Tirumala: The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu survived an assassination attempt on October 1, 2003, when People's War Group (PWG) Naxalites (left-wing extremists) exploded at least five improvised claymore mines targeting his motorcade on the Tirumala ghat road in Chittoor district at 4.15 p.m, while he was proceeding to visit the Tirumala temple. Among those injured were the Puttur MLA (Member of the State Legislative Assembly), R. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Tirupati MLA, Chadalavada Krishnamurthy and the Information Technology Minister B. Gopalakrishna Reddy. The PWG, on October 3, claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt. In a four-page statement which was published in the vernacular media, PWG state secretary Ramakrishna and two others claimed responsibility for the attack and defended their action saying "it was a judicious move to eliminate a person who has been perpetuating state sponsored violence". In their statement, they also described Naidu as a "World Bank agent". Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh Police has detained six persons in connection with the assassination attempt. Hindustan Times, October 3, 2003; The Hindu , October 2, 2003.


NEPAL

35 Maoist insurgents killed by security forces in Rautahat district: Security forces are reported to have killed at least 35 Maoist insurgents during an encounter at the Katahira police post in Rautahat district on September 30, 2003. Four security force personnel were also killed in the incident when a group of insurgents attacked the police post. Nepal News , October 1, 2003.


PAKISTAN

Six persons killed in sectarian attack in Karachi: At least six persons, including four employees of the Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (SUPARCO) and one Army man, were killed and eight persons injured in an ambush while they were going to a mosque to offer Friday prayers in the Mauripur area of Karachi on October 3, 2003. Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) Tariq Jamil was quoted as saying that "this was an act of sectarian terrorism and police will be able to say something about the incident after a proper investigation, which is underway." Meanwhile, The News has reported that a newly formed sectarian terrorist outfit '313' was responsible for the killings. Quoting sources in the Federal Interior Ministry, the report said that the outfit '313' was an alliance of three proscribed groups - Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Alami (HuMA) and Harkat-ul-Jehadi-e-Islami (HuJI). "Basically, the organisation '313' was formed by militants of three proscribed outfits, who had fought in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban. It aims to target Western interests in the country and its activists may also have connections with al-Qaeda," said an unnamed official, adding: "But we have reports that in order to destabilize the government, the militants belonging to 313 may carry out sectarian killings and attacks on minorities as well." Jang, October 4, 2003.

12 Al Qaeda terrorists and two Pakistani soldiers killed in South Waziristan: At least 12 Al Qaeda terrorists were killed on October 2, 2003, and 18 others arrested during an operation launched by the Pakistan Army in the remote South Waziristan Agency (SWA), close to the Afghanistan border. Two Pakistani soldiers were also reportedly killed and two others injured during the encounter. The early morning operation occurred in the Bagharh area of Tehsil Birmal in the SWA, approximately 15 kilometers west of Wana, headquarters of SWA and in close proximity to Afghanistan's Paktika province. The identity of those killed and arrested has not been disclosed thus far. Army spokesperson Maj. Gen Shaukat Sultan told the media that Pakistani troops moved into Waziristan Agency late on October 1 after a tip-off that Al Qaeda terrorists had sneaked into the area from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, local people and media personnel stationed in the SWA have claimed that more than 30 persons, including some local tribesmen, were killed during the operation. Jang, October 3, 2003.

 

STATISTICAL REVIEW

Fatalities in Left-wing Extremist Violence in Andhra Pradesh,
1980-2003*

 
Civilian
Security Force Personnel
Extremist
Total
1980
21
0
7
28
1981
18
1
2
21
1982
22
0
4
26
1983
26
0
2
28
1984
42
2
0
44
1985
29
6
38
73
1986
28
5
19
52
1987
53
24
29
106
1988
59
2
55
116
1989
97
13
51
161
1990
192
4
24
220
1991
218
50
102
370
1992
178
56
249
483
1993
134
37
139
310
1994
106
21
106
233
1995
113
8
75
196
1996
155
47
157
359
1997
206
51
168
425
1998
198
35
275
508
1999
121
38
214
373
2000
91
33
219
343
2001
150
41
120
311
2002
88
16
87
191
2003*
75
17
132
224
Total
2420
507
2274
5201
*   Data till October 1
Source:
Computed from official sources and reportage in the English language press of India.

 

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

SAIR is a project of the Institute for Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

 

South Asia Intelligence Review [SAIR]

Publisher
K. P. S. Gill

Editor
Dr. Ajai Sahni



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