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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 2, No. 52, July 12, 2004

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



J&K: Decapitated Nightingale
Guest Writer: Praveen Swami
New Delhi Chief of Bureau, Frontline magazine, and also writes for its sister publication, The Hindu

"Spring will return to the beautiful Valley soon", the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had promised in Srinagar last April, quoting a somewhat trite passage from the poet Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor, "the flowers will bloom again and the nightingales will return, singing." Just over a year on, the nightingales have been decapitated: the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), on whose 'moderates' the peace process was built, is in disarray; political dialogue with New Delhi is stalled, and the substantial reductions in terrorist violence Vajpayee had hoped for have yet to materialise.

On July 6, 2004, Hurriyat chairman Maulvi Abbas Ansari announced that he was resigning his post in an effort to bring about the reunification of the secessionist coalition's factions. The organisation's founder-chairman, Srinagar cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was asked to work towards restoring the Hurriyat's original Executive Council, which, until last year's split, included Islamist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Although the Hurriyat reiterated its willingness to 'continue dialogue with India and Pakistan', Farooq said this process would commence only after a new chairman was elected by the pre-split Executive Council.

What sense might one make of Ansari's resignation? At one level, the effective termination of dialogue with the Government of India could be read as the outcome of intense terrorist pressure on the Hurriyat's Centrists. On May 29, terrorists had shot the Mirwaiz's uncle, Maulvi Mushtaq Ahmad, who died nine days later. Farooq's own house was subsequently attacked. Speaking in New Delhi on June 28, Farooq candidly admitted that "somebody within our rank and file is targeting me and my family". The reason for this hostility among terrorist ranks, he said, was "our stand on the resolution of the Kashmir issue through the dialogue process".

Discretion, it would then seem, triumphed over valour in the week between Farooq's visit to Delhi and Ansari's decision to step down. One key event may have been the burning down of the historic school run by Farooq's family in downtown Srinagar on June 7, the act of arson intended to signal that both his life and his ideological inheritance were under threat. Yet, the problems surfaced much earlier, as it became clear that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at Delhi was unwilling to deliver a dramatic face-saving gesture to the Centrists, like significant troop withdrawals or direct one-on-one negotiations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Another key factor was the efforts by the Union Government to draw the Islamists into the dialogue process, thus undermining the Hurriyat's Centrist majority's claims to represent all of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. On June 9, lawyer-politician Ram Jethmalani held an unscheduled 30-minute meeting with Geelani, pushing ideas for wider internal autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir. Jethmalani made his visit on behalf of the non-official Kashmir Committee, set up with quiet Government assent at the start of the predecessor National Democratic Alliance regime's engagement with the Hurriyat. Most observers had believed the Kashmir Committee to be defunct after the resignation of two of its three members, senior journalists M.J. Akbar and Dilip Padgaonkar.

Jethmalani's mission, sources say, was pushed by elements in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs who believed the Centrists needed to be prodded into action, and the dialogue 'broad-based'. The services of the recently-replaced Intelligence Bureau Director, K.P. Singh, were used to set up the meeting, and Geelani was contacted through a New Delhi lawyer of ethnic-Kashmiri origin. Although the Islamist leader was non-committal, Jethmalani flew to Srinagar, only to be kept waiting for several hours before he was granted a token audience.

At a later rally, Geelani claimed he rejected Jethmalani's autonomy proposals out of hand. "Jethmalani wanted me to give credit to the Indian democracy", Geelani said, "I explained to him how the Indian forces had committed massacre after massacre of Kashmiri people in the last 15 years. He had nothing to say when he withdrew". Geelani also charged that the "the entire Indian leadership was biased against the Kashmiri Muslims," and that while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was "explicitly communal", the Congress "was instinctively communal but it was pretending to be secular." The bottom line was that Jethmalani had failed to win over the Islamists - and at once alienated the Centrists.

For now, Geelani has also shown no signs of biting the bait offered by the Centrists, and has expressly rejected dialogue with India. Speaking after Friday prayers at a Srinagar mosque on July 9, for example, he accused India of "massacring Kashmiris under the camouflage of a peace process." In several earlier speeches, Geelani rejected any forward movement other than those founded on United Nations resolutions mandating a plebiscite in the pre-1947 state of Jammu and Kashmir. Common sense suggests Geelani would enter the Hurriyat only if he had a decisive say in shaping strategy: something the mere removal of Ansari would not give him.

Geelani's best hope is to regain influence within the Jamaat-e-Islami, the organisation to which he gave much of his life before being marginalised last year. His supporters now hope to use his majority among the 1,250-plus delegates in the Jamaat-e-Islami's General Council to secure changes in the organisation's leadership, and amend its Constitution to allow for support of the Islamist Jihad against India. He does not, however, have a majority among the Jamaat-e-Islami's rukuns - its rank and file cadre - or its senior leadership.

From December 2003 onwards, moderates in the Jamaat have run a successful campaign to remove pro-Geelani figures from positions of power, tacitly backing the Hurriyat moderates. Syed Nazir Ahmad Kashani, the Amir of the Jamaat-e-Islami, fought off Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin (HM) efforts to garner support for the hardliners. On January 1 this year, the Jamaat's Markazi Majlis-e-Shoora (Central Consultative Committee), went public with a commitment to "democratic and constitutional struggle", an indication of willingness to operate within the Indian political system. Article 5 of the Jamaat-e-Islami's Constitution obliges it to use such means, and to desist from those which "may contribute to the strife on earth".

Perhaps the most important determinant of future events will be how much influence terrorist groups are able to exercise. The signs, on the face of it, are not good. Although violence has been in steady decline since 2001 - the year India threatened to go to war unless Pakistan deescalated its covert war in J&K - official figures for this summer do not make for happy reading. Killings of civilians in April and June this year were higher than in 2003, particularly in the Kashmir Division. So, too, were the numbers of Indian security force personnel killed, although the numbers of terrorists killed in retaliation declined.

Infiltration, as Chief of Army Staff Nirmal Vij recently made public, has resumed, reaching high levels in the first two weeks of June. What Vij did not make public was the fact that the almost-complete border fencing is not as effective as some had hoped. Three terrorists shot dead near the Line of Control in the Mandi-Loran area on June 9, for example, were carrying plastic pipes, designed to penetrate the fencing. Indian infantry troops who have carried out tests on the fencing have taken just 10 to 15 minutes to clear the barrier - suggesting that while it is indeed a deterrent, the fence is hardly the kind of impregnable barrier enthusiasts had claimed.

Worst of all, the political ground on which the peace process is premised threatens to turn into quicksand. With terrorist groups increasingly dominating southern Kashmir, particularly at night, large crowds of villagers have started appearing at the last rites of slain terrorists, a phenomenon not seen since the early 1990s. Gatherings of up to two thousand villagers have been recorded during the burials of terrorists of Pakistani origin, something unheard of until early this year. In one recent incident in Kulgam, villagers were shipped in by bus to protest an Army siege of a local mosque, in an effort to rescue two terrorists still trapped inside.

Major political parties have been unable to respond. The ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), which until recently had a none-too-covert alliance with elements of the south Kashmir Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin, has been haemorrhaging cadres - the wages of the terrorist group's ire at the PDP's inability to deliver on pre-poll promises to scale back military operations. At least five PDP workers have been killed and eight injured since June. In one gruesome June 15 incident, four PDP activists who had campaigned for Anantnag Member of Parliament Mehbooba Mufti were taken to a jungle hideout near Aishmuqam, beaten and then shot through the legs.

Crippled by a bitter internal feud, dealing with the crisis seems to be the last thing on the ruling PDP-Congress alliance government's agenda. Last month, Congress politicians, their eyes firmly focussed on the Hindu vote in Jammu, launched a protracted offensive against the State Government's efforts to restrict the ongoing Amarnath Yatra to just one month. The State Cabinet, as a consequence of the growing feud, has not met for four months. Both the mainstream parties and secessionists seem bereft of leadership: a fact which suggests that guns, not words, will once again shape the discourse in the months to come.


Peace in the Balance
Guest Writer: Iqbal Athas
Consultant Editor and Defence Correspondent, The Sunday Times, Colombo

If Sri Lankan security forces did not defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels in nearly 20 years of fighting, they learnt many lessons from the separatist war. One was to maintain a high level of alert in the first week of July no matter which part of the country they served.

On July 5, 1987, the first rebel suicide bomber, 'Captain Millar' rammed an explosives-laden truck into Nelliady Central College in the Jaffna peninsula. It killed 30 soldiers billeted there.

That attack was intended to foil troops attempting to seize the northern capital during 'Operation Liberation' - an offensive that was a precursor to the arrival of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka.

For 17 years now, the rebels have marked July 5, as 'Black Tiger Day.' Over the years, the weeks beginning July 5 have seen deadly suicide bomb attacks and gory deaths.

The past two years, however, had remained an exception, thanks to the Ceasefire Agreement of February 22, 2002. The previous United National Front (UNF) Government that signed the agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) went out of office at the parliamentary elections on April 2.

The task of talking peace fell on President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. But her minority United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Government, barely four months in office, appears to be on a head-on collision course with the Tamil Tiger rebels.

On Wednesday, July 7, a female suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to her body inside the Kollupitiya Police Station. The building adjoins 'Temple Trees,' the official residence of the Prime Minister. The area is a 'high security zone', with the diplomatic missions of United States, Britain and India close by.

In the wake of mounting concerns worldwide over the incident, Tamil Tiger rebels denied involvement and declared, "We strongly condemn the attack." This unusual statement after a suicide bomber attack came in the LTTE's official 'Peace Secretariat' website. It was the work of armed groups operating with Sri Lankan military units, said the denial.

That tacitly pointed the finger at the renegade eastern leader Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias 'Colonel' Karuna, The one-time close confidante of the rebel leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and his cadres have been wreaking havoc in the eastern Batticaloa district. Cadres loyal to Prabhakaran have been killed, his military camps and political offices bombed.

Only after posting the denial did the rebel leaders realize the damage it would cause. Spokesman Daya Master telephoned the Tamil media, particularly those in the Tamil-dominated Jaffna peninsula, not to print the official account. Suicide attacks by any other group would be giving them credit for having cadres who were willing to make the supreme sacrifice and achieve 'martyrdom' - a virtue that was exclusive to the LTTE.

But CID detectives questioned the suicide bomber's accomplice and uncovered proof the attack was in fact carried out by the LTTE rebels. The target was Tamil Cabinet Minister Douglas Devananda, whose Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) is a constituent partner of the UPFA. Unlike the proverbial cat that had nine lives, Devananda has had one more: he survived his tenth assassination attempt.

Devananda has been publicly canvassing for renegade leader Karuna, who has received the 'protective custody' of the Army, to form a separate Tamil political party in the East. For the LTTE, which now claims it is the sole representative of Tamils, this is anathema.

For Prabhakaran and his senior leaders in Kilinochchi, the Karuna issue has taken centre stage over the peace talks. The anger is almost entirely over attacks on their cadres in the eastern Batticaloa district, rather than over Karuna being given 'protective custody.' They have so far not raised the issue of Karuna being turned over to face their 'justice', nor, consequently, has such an eventuality warranted any official reaction from the Government.

However, the rebels have repeatedly alleged that the security forces have colluded with the Karuna group in carrying out attacks, with the knowledge of the Government. President Kumaratunga has repeatedly denied these allegations. It is becoming increasingly clear the rebel leadership is not convinced by her assertions.

And developments this week seem to be a clear turning point. On July 5, a rebel political wing leader and a colleague attending a 'Black Tiger Day' commemoration meeting in Government-controlled Batticaloa town were shot and wounded. On the same day, another guerrilla who was shot at died, while his colleague was injured, in the same district.

But a more disturbing development that was to anger the rebel leadership took place on the evening of July 5 in the northeastern military garrison town of Hingurakgoda. Fourteen members of the Karuna faction were arrested from a Buddhist Temple. An arms cache was also recovered.

Police produced them before a Magistrate and obtained bail for them. Possession of weapons is a non-bailable offence under Sri Lanka's firearm laws. But the Police said the weapons were found in 'a different part' of the temple.

But the Government faced further embarrassment after a news report posted on the Army's official website ( claimed that the Police had arrested the Tamil youth with weapons.

The head of the LTTE Political Division, K. Kousaylyan declared "Now it is very obvious that the Sri Lankan authorities are conniving with their military intelligence and Police to gather, arm and send stragglers of the Karuna group to murder innocents and sabotage the peace. What happened today is a travesty of justice."

He complained that an LTTE cadre who was arrested by the Police with a box of cartridges in Batticaloa was still in custody, as the Courts had refused him bail.

Unidentified men later hurled a grenade at the Buddhist temple, badly wounding the high priest. He was airlifted to Colombo for treatment but died.

Quite clearly the rebels are angry. Early this week, they shot dead two Karuna loyalists and displayed their bodies in the farming town of Illupadichchenai in Batticaloa District. That was to warn the public not to encourage the renegade faction. On the basis of information extracted from the duo before they were executed, a village leader was later shot dead.

In a week where tensions have peaked between the Government and the Tamil Tiger rebels, Norway's Special Envoy, Erik Solheim, met LTTE Chief Negotiator, Anton Balasingham, for talks. The latter has now made it clear that talks would hinge on the Government heeding a provision of the Ceasefire Agreement that calls for Tamil paramilitary groups to be disarmed.

In April this year, when President Kumaratunga's UPFA Government invited Norway to resume peace efforts, it publicly declared that the rebels had agreed to talk without any preconditions. It later turned out that the rebels were seeking an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA), which the Government believes is a blueprint for a separate state.

This demand was over shadowed when the rebels said the Karuna issue should be settled first, and that the Government should halt the violence. They have now reiterated the demand that paramilitary groups be disarmed.

Now that the Tiger rebels have launched what appears to be a 'limited offensive,' casting aside President Kumaratunga's assurances, the future of the peace process is very much in the balance.



Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
July 5-11, 2004

Security Force Personnel






     Jammu &








Total (INDIA)







 Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Islamist group threatens to kill politicians, journalists and intellectuals: Ten prominent politicians, 22 journalists and a number of intellectuals reportedly received death threats on July 11, 2004, from an Islamist militant outfit, Mujahideen al-Islam, which accuses them of acting against Islam and its efforts to turn Bangladesh into an Islamic state of Pakistan. One of the outfit's leaders, Maulana Patowary, reportedly issued the threat in a circular distributed among the organisation members. Patowary termed the politicians as prime enemies of Islam and blamed them for constituting a tough barrier to 'reinstituting Pakistan'. "These sinners are the foremost ones among those the Quran ordains to kill," he stated. Similar death threats had been sent to 22 journalists two days ago and three Dhaka University teachers two weeks back. He also claimed that Islamist organisations, including Hizbut Tahrir, Harkatul Jihad and Al Qaeda, have the photos and addresses of these politicians. The Daily Star, July 12, 2004.

Banks warned about Al Qaeda and Taliban accounts: The Bangladesh Bank has reportedly cautioned all banks and financial institutions against six accounts for their suspected links with the Al Qaeda and Taliban and instructed them to freeze the account(s) if they have any of them. The suspected accounts are of Mohammad bin Mohammad Abdelhedi, Kamal Darraji, Mohammad El Mahfoudi, Imed bin Bechir Jamali, Habib bin Ahmad Louviri and Chabanne bin Mohamed Trabelsi. Of them, Mahfoudi is Moroccan while the others are reportedly Tunisian. The central bank issued the instruction on July 6, 2004, saying that all banks and financial institutions have to inform it by July 22, 2004, whether or not they have any of these accounts. The anti-money laundering department of the Bangladesh Bank has issued the instruction in order to check any financial transaction for financing terrorist activities through these accounts. New Age Bangladesh, July 9, 2004.


Mumbai Court awards life imprisonment to 11 accused in 1998 serial bomb blasts: On July 9, 2004, a Sessions Court in Mumbai, Maharashtra, awarded life imprisonment to 11 convicts, including a Pakistani national Javed Gulam Hussein, in connection with the 1998 serial blasts in suburban trains and stations in the city. The punishment, under Section 150 of the Indian Railways Act, includes two life imprisonments, one for murder under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 302 and another for causing damage to or tampering with railway lines with a view to causing deaths. Four people were killed and 30 others injured in the blasts that occurred in 1998 at Kanjurmarg station on January 23, the Goregaon and Malad railway tracks on January 24, and three consecutive bomb blasts on February 27 near Virar station, Santacruz railway station and on platform number two at Kandivali railway station. The Hindu, July 10, 2004.

Maulana Abbas Ansari resigns as Hurriyat chief: Maulana Abbas Ansari, chairman of a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), on July 7, 2004, stepped down as the separatist alliance's chief, while asking founder chairman of the undivided Hurriyat, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, to "re-launch" unification attempts. After an Executive Council meeting at the outfit's headquarters in Rajbagh, Srinagar, a spokesperson said that Ansari stepped down as the party's chairman "in the greater interest of unity" and invited the Mirwaiz to forge unity in the separatist conglomerate. Daily Excelsior, July 8, 2004.


21 soldiers and 23 Maoists killed in the Dang and Salyan districts: In two separate incidents on July 5, 2004, at least 21 soldiers and 23 Maoist insurgents are reported to have died. 12 troops and an equal number of Maoists were killed and more than a dozen others sustained injuries during a clash near Babai River in the Dang district. On the same day, at least nine soldiers and 11 insurgents died during a clash at Kalimati-Kalche area in the Salyan district in mid-west Nepal. The Himalayan Times, July 6, 2004 .


Cyprus deports 10 Pakistani students for suspected terrorist links: Cyprus is reported to have deported 10 Pakistanis on July 9, 2004, for suspected terrorist links. Ten Pakistani students were deported after being detained by Cyprus police on suspicion of belonging to the Al Qaeda network. One of the suspects, reportedly trained in avionic engineering, had arrived in Cyprus to pursue a course in Hotel Management. "I can't tell you whether they are members of al-Qaeda, we are not sure of that, but it is certain that they fit the profile of terror suspects," an unnamed Cypriot security official told Reuters. The men, who were enrolled at a private Cypriot college in the holiday resort of Larnaca, were arrested on July 7. Daily Times, July 10, 2004.

Government and MMA to co-operate on counter-terrorism: The Federal Government and the Islamist alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) on July 6, 2004, agreed to co-operate on the issue of registration of foreigners in Wana, headquarters of South Waziristan, and on steps to combat sectarianism and terrorism. The agreement was reached during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shujaat Hussain and attended by top Government officials and MMA leaders in Islamabad. The two sides reportedly agreed on four aspects: Registration of foreigners in Wana; Stern action against religious seminaries and mosques fanning sectarian hatred and use of loud-speakers to be limited to Azan and Jumma Khutbas (Friday sermons); Governor of North West Frontier Province, Tribal Areas' parliamentarians and local elders to hold consultations in Wana; and the MMA will extend complete co-operation to the Government in its efforts to end terrorism. Jang, July 7, 2004.


Woman suicide bomber kills herself and four police personnel in Colombo: A suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) woman suicide bomber blew herself up at the Kollupitiya Police station next to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister's official residence in Colombo on July 7, 2004, killing herself and four police personnel and injuring nine persons. The suicide bomber was detected by the Ministerial Security Division at Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) leader and Minister Douglas Devananda's office, Galle Road, on suspicion as she refused a body search. She was later identified as Thavarasa Jeyarani who was apparently on a mission to assassinate Minister Devananda who has publicly encouraged the LTTE rebel leader 'Colonel' Karuna to enter mainstream politics. Meanwhile, the LTTE denied any involvement in the suicide attack. S.P. Thamichelvan, head of the political division, said on July 8 that the outfit had "absolutely no connection in the suicide bombing in Colombo." According to him, "This is an act to destabilize the peace process. We suspect this has been carried out by elements that want to disrupt the peace process." Daily New, July 8, 2004.


Jammu and Kashmir: Comparative Violence, January to June

Attacks on Civilians
Attacks on Security Forces
Civilians killed
Security Forces killed*
Terrorist killed
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
Total 2003

Excluding Special Police Officers
Source: Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

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.


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