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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 2, No. 18, November 17, 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



A Presidential Intervention
Guest Writer: G.H. Peiris
Senior Professor, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, and Senior Fellow, International Centre for Ethnic Studies

On November 4, 2003, President Chandrika Kumaratunga exercised her constitutional powers to take over the cabinet portfolios of Defence, Interior and Mass Communication, dismissing three members of the United National Front (UNF) from their respective ministerial posts. Further, she replaced with her own appointees the secretaries of two of these ministries and the heads of several Government-controlled media institutions. She also prorogued Parliament for two weeks, terminating its on-going session, during which the UNF was to have initiated proceedings for impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The related announcements were accompanied by the promulgation of 'emergency regulations' under the Public Security Act, and the mobilisation by the President of the Army for intensified security duties in Colombo. These latter measures were, however, withdrawn shortly.

The President's actions did have an element of surprise for those who believed (despite ample evidence to the contrary) that she is reconciled to performing a nominal role during the remainder of her term of office (scheduled to end in 2006) and permitting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to function as the de facto head of Government. It may be suggested that the near-universal practice of referring to the body of ministers as the "Government of Sri Lanka" standing distinct from the office of the President - from a constitutional viewpoint, a misleading dichotomy that has been in vogue ever since the General Elections of December 2001 that gave Wickremesinghe's UNF a parliamentary majority - contributed to the perpetuation of this illusion, perhaps even in the minds of Wickremesinghe and his Party colleagues. But for those more acutely conscious of Kumaratunga's confrontational style of politics and her constitutional powers as Head of State and Head of Government, her action on November 4 represented no more than an expected culmination of the escalating power struggle between the virulently hostile national parties, the UNF and Kumaratunga's own Sri Lanka Freedom Party [SLFP, a constituent of her People's Alliance (PA)]. There could hardly be any doubt that by bringing about a major cabinet reshuffle, what the President wanted more than all else was a political showdown with the Prime Minister.

To many independent observers within and outside Sri Lanka, the Presidential challenge was not entirely unreasonable. The President remained well within her constitutional rights, and her show of power was a response to the barely concealed and sustained attempt by the Prime Minister and his colleagues to bypass her in key decision-making processes. This was reflected most clearly in the so-called 'peace efforts' that the Wickremesinghe-led segment of the Government launched soon after the UNF electoral victory. In this context, it may be recalled that Wickremesinghe's initial response, as the newly appointed Prime Minister, to the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on December 24, 2001, was not based on any prior consultation with the President on whom there was, apart from all else, an LTTE assassination attempt barely two years earlier. Nor was there an input by the President and her party to the formulation of the terms and conditions of the 'Memorandum of Understanding' formally signed by Wickremesinghe and the LTTE leader Prabhakaran on February 22, 2002. At the six rounds of direct negotiation between the Wickremesinghe-led segment of the Government and the LTTE conducted thereafter over several months, the 'Government delegation' did not accommodate any representative of the President. Nor did the President have a say in determining the Government's negotiation stances and the concessions that were offered to the LTTE at these negotiations, ostensibly with a mandate exclusive to the UNF from the people of Sri Lanka. Briefing of the President after each round of negotiation by the Prime Minister or his spokesmen, and the meetings which the Norwegian 'facilitators' had with the President from time to time, were also no more than perfunctory gestures. In the more recent past, there was the public exposure of several significant differences between the version of the 'draft proposals for an interim administration for the northern and eastern provinces' (a precondition set by the LTTE for the resumption of negotiations from which it withdrew in March 2003) prepared by the Wickremesinghe's segment of the Government in consultation with the Norwegian participants of the 'peace process' and submitted to the LTTE high command, and the version of what purported to be the same proposals submitted to President Kumaratunga. The explanation for this appalling error publicised by Minister G.L. Peiris, the leader of Wickremesinghe's delegation at the negotiations, was barely credible, and enhanced the public impression of a total lack of transparency in what the Prime Minister and his coterie were prepared to give away to the LTTE in their claimed pursuit of peace. There have, over the past few months, been several other confrontations, too numerous to recount here, between President Kumaratunga and the UNF leadership, that are likely to have contributed to the present impasse.

There is no doubt that President Kumaratunga's recent moves have caused alarm and despondency in many quarters. It was Prime Minister Wickremesinghe himself (who, at that time, was on an official visit to Washington DC) who led the chorus by declaring that President Kumaratunga had 'precipitated a national crisis'. Among his colleagues back at home there was what appeared to be an almost panic reaction as spokesmen for the UNF accused her of disrupting the peace process, destroying the economic advances so laboriously achieved by them since their assumption of office, and bringing the country to the brink of war. As evidence in support of these views, they referred to the sharp dip recorded by the mini stock market in Colombo on the day following Kumaratunga's announcement (there was an equally sharp recovery thereafter), and the cancellation of several hundred hotel reservations by tourists from abroad (tourist arrivals peaked again thereafter). They said that a 'free trade pact' which the United States was to have entered into with Sri Lanka during the Prime Minister's visit to Washington was cancelled as a result of the turmoil created by the President (this was denied by the US embassy in Colombo). They claimed that Sri Lanka has lost the US$ 4.5 billion of aid pledged by donors at Tokyo a few months earlier (the promised aid was tentative and had many conditionalities, some of which were impossible to fulfil). As the greatest disaster of all, the UNF leaders pointed to the withdrawal of the MCC from the scheduled cricket tour of Sri Lanka! (The England team did arrive according to plan.)

The issue of whether President Kumaratunga's offensive against the UNF precipitated a crisis or, on the contrary, averted an impending crisis, needs to be examined more closely. Perhaps the foremost consideration, from the viewpoint of electoral politics, was Wickremesinghe's and the UNF's declining popularity, for which there was an abundance of evidence in the form of increasing incidence of highly successful opposition-engineered strikes and other disruptions in the formal sectors of the economy, and intensifying unrest the university and farming communities, as well as the massive public support that the opposition parties have been able to muster for their campaigns of agitation. This waning popularity is due partly to economic causes - rising costs of living and unemployment, and the fact that the promised 'peace dividend' is yet to reach the large majority of people. More significantly, it reflects the growing disenchantment of the people with the UNF 'peace efforts' - the fact that, hitherto, it has been no more than a process of naive appeasement.

Specific factors that have contributed to the build-up of anti-UNF sentiments were the apparent inability of the Wickremesinghe administration to protect the Muslim communities of the Eastern Province from relentless LTTE harassment and repression; its insensitivity to the genuine grievances of the Buddhists - especially the views expressed on matters of crucial importance to the country by the sanga; and its monumental blunder of attempting to impeach the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court with the obvious purpose of intimidating the Court while it was engaged in an arbitration of a constitutional dispute, thus antagonising the politically powerful legal fraternity.

President Kumaratunga's decision assumes special significance in the context of the long-awaited proposals of the LTTE on the interim administration for the northern and eastern provinces, submitted to the Wickremesinghe-led segment of the Government five days earlier, which came under intense scrutiny both within and outside the country. Though a wide diversity of responses greeted the LTTE proposals, the majority of observers inclined to the view that the LTTE demands (albeit in the form of a negotiating stance) by way of 'powers of self government' extended well beyond any power sharing arrangements between the Centre and the regions possible under any existing federal systems of Government in the world. The opinion in many quarters was also that the interim administration envisaged by the LTTE would be an autonomous institutional system over which the LTTE itself would wield total control, and would hence serve as a stepping-stone to secession. The President herself noted, in a detailed public statement released by her party on November 5, that "the proposals released by the LTTE for the establishment of an Interim Self Governing Authority… lays the legal foundations for a future separate sovereign state (and that) ... the proposals clearly affect the sovereignty of the Republic of Sri Lanka and violates its Constitution."

Apart from the LTTE's unswerving commitment to its eventual goal of secession evident, the most critical consideration taken into account by President Kumaratunga must surely have been the continuing acquiescence of the Wickremesinghe-led segment of the Government in the face of innumerable violations by the LTTE of both the letter and the spirit of the 'Memorandum of Understanding'. In strange irony, it was Minister G.L. Peiris who, through his attempts to trivialise such violations, unwittingly became the most effective propagandist for the LTTE within country. The LTTE persisted with its recourse to violence and intimidation, ravaging the inhabitants of many areas in the northern and eastern provinces into submission. It instigated mob attacks on several military encampments located in the districts of Jaffna and Batticaloa with the obvious purpose of evicting the security forces of the Government from the 'north-east'. LTTE cadres have repeatedly attacked civilians living in these areas, mainly by way of punishment for resistance to extortion. It has established a network of illegal 'law courts' and 'police stations', some of which function outside their areas of control as demarcated in the Memorandum of Understanding. The LTTE has continued its earlier spree of murder of activists of other (not necessarily rival) Tamil political groups - by early November 2003 the number of victims since the ceasefire was reported be about 46. It has established several military encampments around the strategically important Trincomalee harbour, well within the supposedly Government-controlled areas in that part of the country. The relaxation of Government security controls since the ceasefire is also believed to have enabled the LTTE to store caches of arms and to establish 'safe houses' throughout the country, especially in the city of Colombo, to be activated for possible terrorist attacks in the future. It has increased its armed cadres from about 7,000 at the time of the ceasefire in December 2001, to an estimated 16,000 by November 2003, and has not abandoned its recruitment of child soldiers, despite the international outcry against this practice. Its clandestine procurement of arms from foreign sources has continued throughout, almost unabated.

In the face of all these, there have indeed been times at which the attitude of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and his colleagues appeared to extent beyond mere acquiescence, and to tantamount to collaboration. This segment of the Government has been ever ready to accept the LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, ignoring any claim or evidence to the contrary. These leaders have made known, explicitly and implicitly, their willingness to ignore or by-pass the Constitution of the country, which they had sworn to protect and uphold. The incident that revealed this mindset most vividly concerned the British journalist Paul Harris who, while serving in Sri Lanka in mid-2002 as correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph, reported on the many violations by the LTTE of the ceasefire agreement and of human rights norms, and on one occasion, described (in journalistic hyperbole, no doubt) the inaction of the Wickremesinghe Government as the 'greatest give-away in history'. In early November that year, Prime Minister Wickermasinghe retaliated, allegedly under pressure from the LTTE leadership, by expelling Harris from the country.

President Kumaratunga's dissatisfaction over the manner in which the representatives of the Government of Norway were performing their functions as facilitators of the 'peace process', especially in the monitoring of the ceasefire, and the scant regard for the President's views displayed both by the Norwegians as well as by Wickremesinghe and his colleagues, are also likely to have been major concerns in the President's mind. Over the past few months, there has been a growing body of opinion in Sri Lanka that the Norwegians are not entirely impartial in their role as mediators. This suspicion, based as it was on the disregard by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) of many LTTE ceasefire violations, was also fed by considerations such as the presence of a seemingly influential community of expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils in Norway, whose support for the LTTE has remained completely unchecked by the Government of that country, its awareness of such support being channelled into terrorist activities in Sri Lanka notwithstanding; and by the much publicised claim that some 'Sea Tigers' (an LTTE outfit specialised in maritime warfare) have received training in underwater assault techniques from ex-officers of the Norwegian navy.

The event that had a catalytic impact in this connection was the leakage (deliberate or inadvertent?) of information on October 16, 2003, from the office of Tryggue Tellefsen, the Norwegian Head of the SLMM, to the LTTE headquarters at Kilinochchi, regarding a Sri Lanka navy operation off the northeast coast of the island to track down a suspected LTTE vessel smuggling arms into the country, thus enabling the vessel to escape the search and withdraw from Sri Lanka's territorial waters. Following the disclosure of the related facts, President Kumaratunga wrote to the Government of Norway on October 24, 2003 expressing "serious doubts about his (i.e., Tellefsen's) impartiality and willingness to be objective in discharging his duties under the Ceasefire Agreement", and requesting Tellefsen's immediate removal from his post. The casual but sanctimonious response of the Norwegian Government to the President's request could, at best, be seen as a diplomatic blunder.

In response to the events of November 4, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, following consultations with his parliamentary group, declared that he could no longer provide leadership to the 'peace process', and requested President Kumaratunga to assume that role. Given his earlier call for a bipartisan approach to negotiations with the LTTE, his assertion that the 'peace process' cannot be sustained unless he alone is empowered to exercise control over all related aspects of Government appears unconvincing, if not unbecomingly churlish. The President, meanwhile, called for the formation of an all-party 'Government of Reconstruction and Reconciliation' to work towards a solution to the national question, pledging that the Sri Lanka Government would continue to abide by the terms of the ceasefire. Although this has received enthusiastic endorsement from many segments of Sri Lankan society, the UNF response has hitherto remained less than lukewarm. The representatives of the Norwegian Government have responded by withdrawing from their role as mediators, stating that they would consider resuming that role only if the dispute within the Sri Lanka Government is resolved. This is likely to resonate unfavourably for Sri Lanka outside the country, at least in the short-term. The Norwegian response, however, seems to provide confirmation of their lack of rapport with President Kumaratunga, and might, in the long run, prove to be a blessing. The LTTE leadership has remained aloof in this dispute, though some of their propaganda organs abroad have been fierce in their condemnation of the President. It must, of course, be understood that it is only if and when an approach of consensus between the two main political parties constituting the Government of Sri Lanka - the UNF and the People's Alliance (PA) - emerges, that an agreement forged through negotiation between Colombo and Kilinochchi could gain constitutional expression. Any attempt to bypass the Constitution is likely to produce chaos.




Manipur: The Death of Innocence
Guest Writer: Pradip Phanjoubam,
Editor, Imphal Free Press, Imphal, with,
Bibhu Prasad Routray,
Acting Director, ICM Database & Documentation Centre, Guwahati

The outrageous kidnap and murder of an eight-year-old school girl, Lungnila Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Ngajokpa, Manipur's Minister for the General Administration Department (GAD) and Taxation, has exposed, among other things, the extent of moral degradation Manipur has undergone in the past decade as a consequence of the insurgency-related breakdown of law and order, and the degree to which these insurgencies have strayed from their ideological and political projections. Kidnapping for ransom, especially of children, is the latest manifestation of this abject moral degradation. A decade ago, nobody would have thought such a thing possible in the State, but not any more. Over the past two years alone, there have been a series of such abductions. Among the most prominent of these:

  • On December 9, 2002, the youngest son of former Chief Minister Reishang Keishing was abducted by the Kuki Liberation Army (KLA), which demanded a ransom of Rupees 1,100,000. He was released on December 11, 2002.
  • Deputy Telecom District Manager, J. Lunkim was abducted on February 18, 2003, by the KLA and was released on February 23 after a hefty ransom was paid to the outfit.
  • On March 23, 2003, German non-governmental organisation (NGO) activist Wolfgang Heinrich was abducted by the KLA, which demanded a ransom of 10 million rupees. Wolfang was subsequently released on April 9, 2003.
  • Manoj Sethi, a cloth merchant from Imphal city was abducted by the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) on April 29, 2003, which demanded that Sethi clear up five years of 'tax' to the outfit. Sethi refused and was killed.
  • The general manager of the Agricultural & Processed Food Export Development Authority (APFEDA), a Central funding agency under the Union Trade and Commerce Ministry, was abducted by the People's United Liberation Front (PULF) on April 26, 2003, on the Moreh road, but succeeded in escaping the outfit's clutches on May 5, 2003.
  • The General Manager of the Integrated Cooperative Development Programme (ICDP), Imphal West, T. Mani Singh, was abducted by the United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF) on October 20, 2003, and was released on October 29.

While no official confirmation is available, most releases of the kidnap victims occur after payment of the very sizeable ransoms demanded.

Most cases of abduction invite public protests by civil society organisations in the State. This time around, however, protests and agitations crossed all barriers, as common people not only hit the streets, demanding the release of the girl, but also joined in search operations to locate her and her abductors. The dividing line between the Naga dominated Hills and the Meitei dominated Valley disappeared, with organisations cutting across ethnic lines condemning the incident. It is ironical that the child was killed in spite of the show of unity and solidarity and even after the ransom amount of Rs. One million was paid in two instalments (leads now suggest that at least one instalment of Rs. 500,000 was demanded and paid by unsuspecting parents after the child had been killed).

It would be a mistake to think of this incident as an aberration, despite its greater shock-value, since the culprits decided to abduct and kill an innocent child. The incident, on the contrary, is a reflection on the continuing culture of violence and intimidation that has engulfed Manipur. Howsoever heinous this latest crime may appear to be, it is no different from the crimes perpetrated by the multiplicity of extremist organisations in the State. Notwithstanding the symbolic criticisms of the incident by some underground groups, the incident must be analysed against the backdrop of an ongoing carnage that does not distinguish between the child and the adult, between combatant and non-combatant, between innocence and culpability.

Figures from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs suggest that cases of abduction (mostly for ransom) have risen consistently over the years. In year 2000, 32 cases of abduction were reported, going up to 35 in 2001 and to 67 in 2002. Both the Valley and Hill based outfits have mastered the technique, not only to fill up their coffers, but also to acquire the image of 'cleansers of the system'. Groups like the KYKL, in recent times, have been involved in a number of abductions in a purported bid to 'get rid of corruption', mostly in the education department.

The increased belligerence of the insurgent groups has been matched by a continuing decadence in the political culture in the State, with a resultant loss of legitimacy for the administration - a cycle that has ensured a perpetual descent into chaos. A recent incident dramatically reflects the lawlessness in the State and the abject surrender of administrators to the forces of terror. This year, on August 30, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and a serving commissioner in the Department of Education, I.S. Laishram gave himself up to the KYKL, after the outfit declared him an offender for having taken money from a college teacher. Laishram was 'tried' by the group for seven days and was released on September 7 on the condition that he would take voluntary retirement. The State government by then had decided to suspend the person for not having obeyed to the official order and not to respond to the diktats of the insurgents.

The Elizabeth episode has also exposed the absolute sloth of the crime fighting departments of the Government. There has been deplorable inefficiency in intelligence gathering and coordination between police departments and intelligence agencies. It is ironical that, as the search continued for the child, two of the top police officials in the State, one of whom is currently the acting police chief in the State, refused to talk to each other. It is evident that such a situation blocked all paths of intelligence sharing, ensuring that the girl remained untraceable till her body was recovered in a small pond near a paddy field in an Imphal outskirt. Vital leads like the telephone number from where the abductors made the ransom demand, which was recorded on a Call Identifying Device, were not acted upon. In fact, the search for the girl was suspended for a couple of days after it began for fear of reprisals by the abductors. Serious questions have already been raised over the intelligence apparatus as well as on the issue of poor coordination between different wings of the police force. Rivalry between the civil police, the Manipur Rifles and the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) units, from the Superintendent of Police (SP) and Commanding Officer (CO) level on and downwards, is an open secret in the State.

For too long has violence been rationalised by political rhetoric, and this is now blowing up in the face of Manipuri society. As a determination to hunt down Elizabeth's killers gains momentum, there is an equal need to take a hard look at the processes of the legitimisation of violence. As long as the tolerance of political violence remains, such incidents are bound to recur. Manipur must now be completely sanitized of the scourge of violence.

Elizabeth's case has woken everybody up to the grim realities ahead. Never before have the different communities been united, as they were in their outrage on this issue. Elizabeth is a Maram Naga, but that has not made a difference to non-Naga who joined the public protests against the crime. In Elizabeth's tragedy, ironically, a way emerges for Manipur's redemption. Beyond political rhetoric and sectarian slogans, basic humanity can still unite.




Assam: Ethnic Face-off
Animesh Roul
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Acts of barbarism appear to be plumbing new depths in areas around the Singhason Hills of the Karbi Anglong district of Assam since the last week of October. The district has been in the grip of ethnic violence following a series of abductions and incidents of arsons perpetrated by two underground groups respectively claiming to represent the Kuki and Karbi tribes. The situation turned violent when the Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) warned its rival United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS, a Karbi group) to end its violent and criminal activities against the non-Karbis, including the Kukis themselves. The KRA also demanded the release of one Thangpao Sitlhou, who had been abducted on October 6, 2003, near Singhason area under the Diphu police station. The abduction drama began soon after. The UPDS abducted six Kuki tribesmen in October, and in retaliation the KRA took at least 10 Karbis hostage from Thekerajan under Howraghat police station on November 2, 2003.

Earlier, the UPDS had declared the commencement of 'Operation Super Volcano' in the face of the KRA's 'Operation Volcano', accusing the Karbi outfit of killing, raping and abducting members of the non-Karbi communities residing in the Singhason Hill areas of Assam. Even though the fear of retribution dominates the Karbi villages of Bokolia-Manza-Dhansiri belt of the Karbi Anglong District, KRA terrorists have torched more than two hundred Karbi dwellings in two successive attacks on November 4 and 5, 2003, in the Singhasan Hills area. In retaliation, UPDS terrorists set fire to several homes in the Gangjang village under the Howraghat police station. Other significant incidents in Karbi Anglong over the last fortnight include the November 3 incident in which UPDS terrorists gunned down the vice-president of the Dokmoka Village Defense Party (VDP). On November 11, three Kuki children were burnt to death at the Lemnol villages, under Diphu police station, when UPDS cadres set fire to five houses belonging to the Kuki community in the area. Another four Kuki students - identified as Puominthang, Mimin Tuboi, Momgboi and Thanabol - were abducted from the Baptists English School in Manja on the same day. Police recovered their bodies the next day.

In the wake of ongoing crisis, the Assam Government put the Army on alert, while the State Police and paramilitary forces have already been deployed in the area to contain the bloody face off, in which innocent inhabitants are becoming sacrificial goats. Earlier, the administration had evolved a two-pronged strategy to quell the violence - counter-terrorism operations and dialogue with indigenous groups. The situation is now getting more complicated, with an exodus of both Kuki and Karbi people from the vicinity of the Singhason Hills. While authorities claim that the situation is 'under control', reports indicate that large numbers of Thadao and Kuki people have already abandoned their villages near Diphu.

Despite the much-touted 'historical relation' between Kukis and Karbis, a recent KRA statement declared that the Kukis were fed up with the Karbis' behavior, because the UPDS has been continuously waging a cold war against their community. Historically, however, the Kukis are not the only community that has been suffering the UPDS' ire in Karbi Anglong. Since 1995, militant Karbi groups such as the Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and the Karbi People's Front (KPF) have been venting their anger against the Citizens Rights Preservation Committee (CRPC), an umbrella organsatioin of non-Karbi people including the Marwaris, Biharis, Nepalis and Bengalis. The war against the 'outsiders' started in earnest in March 1999, when the KNV and KPF merged to form the UPDS. The April 9, 2000, massacre of 11 Nepalis by UPDS cadres initiated a new chapter in the campaign against outsiders in Karbi Anglong.

The UPDS, active in Karbi Anglong and parts of the North Cachar (NC) Hills district, signed a cease fire agreement with the Union Government on May 23, 2002, for one year, but its dissident faction, known as the 'Anti-Talk' faction and led by 'general secretary' H.E. Kathar, remains uncooperative. Rejecting the peace process, Kathar has continued a tirade on the 'self-determination' of the Karbis and other indigenous people in Karbi Anglong. The UPDS (pro-talks) faction had issued initial warnings against the KRA, saying that it would not remain a mute spectator to the ''atrocities' being perpetrated on Karbi villagers by 'Kuki terrorists'. Nevertheless, intra-factional politics of UPDS notwithstanding, the pro-talks faction of the UPDS has now appealed to both the KRA and its own anti-talks faction to put an end to the hostilities and has urged them to release hostages from captivity.

The ongoing ethnic violence is no longer restricted to Karbi Anglong, and its echoes are now audible in the neighboring State of Meghalaya as well. The UPDS - KNV combine's reign of terror in the Jaintia (Pnar)-inhabited areas under block 1 of Karbi Anglong and areas like Lamurang, Denler and Tibin has forced over 2000 local Khasi and Pnar people to leave their homes. The friction between the Karbis and the people of the Jaintia Hills is not new. During the Legislative Assembly elections in February 2003, threats had been issued by the KNV - UPDS combine to all residents living in the bordering villages, and these culminated in macabre incidents of pre-poll violence, including the one on February 8, 2003, when KNV terrorists killed six villagers in the Jaintia Hills district after severely torturing them.

A passive onlooker to these developments in the past, the Meghalaya Government, fearing a mass exodus into its territory, has now urged the Assam Government to intervene and to take proper security measures. Though the crisis in the Singhason Hills has begun to show signs of abating, the displacement of people could be major bone of contention between the two neighboring States in the days ahead.



Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
November 10-16, 2003

Security Force Personnel






     Jammu &










Total (INDIA)



*   Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Five tribal peace workers killed in Chittagong Hill Tracts: Five former tribal insurgents who supported a peace deal with the Government were reportedly abducted and later killed in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region. According to official sources, three of them were killed on November 14, 2003, and two more were killed the next day. Meanwhile, Jyotirindra Budhipriyo Larma, former chief of the now disarmed Shanti Bahini rebels, has condemned the opponents of the peace accord for the killings. Alert Net, November 15, 2003.

Harkat-e-Islam Al-Jihad threatens religious minority businessmen and opposition leaders: According to the Daily Sangbad (a vernacular newspaper) in Manikganj, the Harkat-e-Islam Al-Jihad, an Islamist extremist outfit, has reportedly issued a letter to religious minority businessmen and leaders of opposition parties warning them to convert to Islam within seven days of receiving the letter or face attacks. The letter, written in Arabic, bears the signature of one Osman Bin Abdulla Al Jihadi. Daily Sangbad, November 3, 2003.


Russia and India sign joint declaration against terrorism: On November 12, 2003, India and Russia in a joint declaration signed in Moscow called for the giving up of "double standards" in the war against terrorism and proposed a "consistent and uncompromising" approach in tackling the menace. The declaration was signed by visiting Indian Premier Atal Behari Vajpayee and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kremlin. Further, India and Russia favoured the effective implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1373 aimed against those who support, fund, or abet terrorists or provide them shelter or asylum to engage in cross-border terrorism. On the next day, President Putin and Premier Vajpayee also issued a joint statement in Moscow calling on Pakistan to prevent terrorists from infiltrating into the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir and to dismantle terrorist training camps within its territory. The Hindu, November 13, 2003.

Minister's daughter killed by abductors in Manipur: Manipur Police reportedly recovered the bullet riddled dead body of Lungnila Elizabeth, the daughter of a Minister in the State Government, from a pond near her school in the Imphal West district on November 12, 2003. She was earlier kidnapped from her school for ransom by unidentified terrorists on November 4. Indian Express , November 13, 2003.

UPDS kills seven Kuki youth in Assam: United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) terrorists have reportedly killed seven Kuki youth in two separate incidents in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam. On November 11, 2003, three Kuki children were burnt to death at the Lemnol village, under Diphu police station, when UPDS cadres set ablaze five houses belonging to the Kuki community. Another four Kuki students who were abducted from the Baptist English School in Manja on the same day were found dead by the Police the next day. Assam Sentinel, November 13, 2003; Northeast Tribune, November 12, 2003


Brigadier General among four security force personnel killed in Maoist ambush: Four security force (SF) personnel, including Brigadier General Sagar Bahadur Pandey, were reportedly killed and nine others sustained injuries in an ambush by the Maoist insurgents at Bhainse in Makwanpur on November 15, 2003. Pandey is the second senior Army officer to have been killed by the Maoists after the break down of peace talks with the Government. On August 28, a day after the cease-fire collapsed, Maoists had killed Col. Kiran Basnet in the capital Kathmandu. Nepal News, November 16, 2003.


Three terrorist groups functioning under changed names proscribed: The Federal Government on November 15, 2003, proscribed three outfits under the Anti-Terrorist Act 1997. The proscribed parties/groups have been identified as Islami Tehreek-e-Pakistan (formerly known as Tehreek-e-Jaferia Pakistan [TJP]), Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan (formerly known as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan [SSP]) and Khuddam-ul-Islam (formerly known as Jaish-e-Mohammed [JeM]). The decision was taken during a high-level meeting in Islamabad chaired by President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali. The meeting also decided to place Jamaat-ud-Dawa (the new name for Lashkar-e-Toiba [LeT]) on the watch list under the same Act. These groups had reportedly flouted the law by changing their names, as under the Act an organization banned once for extremism cannot function under another name. Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said that the police had sealed many offices of the three banned groups across the country. "The funds of these groups have been frozen and they will not be allowed to indulge in any public activity henceforth," said Hayat. Meanwhile, Islami Tehreek-e-Pakistan chief Allama Sajid Naqvi was arrested from his Rawalpindi residence on November 15. Jang, November 16, 2003

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Akram Lahori and three others awarded death sentence: An Anti-Terrorism Court in Karachi on November 15, 2003, awarded the death sentence to Muhammad Ajmal alias Akram Lahori, 'commander-in-chief' of the proscribed Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), and three of his associates. The sentence was awarded in the murder case of Seth Ramzan Ali of Pak Iranian Tea Company. According to the prosecution, on February 11, 2002, Lahori and his associates killed Ramzan Ali and injured two others in the Saddar area of Karachi. Jang, November 16, 2003


Peace talks with LTTE postponed indefinitely: The Government on November 10, 2003, announced that talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been indefinitely postponed. Constitutional Affairs Minister G.L..Peiris said that the Government would need to resolve who would be responsible for the peace process before talks with the LTTE could resume. Meanwhile, Norwegian facilitators said on November 14, 2003, that there was no stable peace in Sri Lanka, even though the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE had committed themselves to the peace process and maintained the cease-fire agreement. Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen indicated that they have decided to return home and wait until Sri Lanka's political crisis is over. Colombo Page, November 14, 2003; Daily News, November 11, 2003.

Three suspected LTTE cadres sentenced to five years in prison in Thailand for arms smuggling: Three Sri Lankan men suspected to be Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres were sentenced to five years in jail for arms smuggling by a court in the Thailand capital, Bangkok, on November 10, 2003. Sujit Gunapala, Sasijaran Teverajah and Saticpawan Arsieawatap denied the charges following their arrest on May 12, 2003. However, they pleaded guilty on November 10 and were given ten years in jail each, halved because they had confessed to the crime. The three were arrested with ten 9 mm Glock pistols, three 11 mm HK Mark 23 pistols and thousands of rounds of assorted ammunition. Bangkok Post, November 11, 2003.


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]

K. P. S. Gill

Dr. Ajai Sahni

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