SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 3, No. 24, December 27, 2004
assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form
with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal
The Eclipse of Governance
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict
There is a radical and growing disjunction between the qualities
and skills that political management in the modern world
demands, and the actual capacities of the political leadership
that modern systems - particularly democracies - throw up.
Contemporary technologies and the opportunities of the emerging
and increasingly integrated world order demand complex,
well-informed and deeply nuanced political management. Regrettably,
politics itself remains trapped in the paradigms and rhetoric
of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with
capacities showing signs of decline rather than any visible
manifestations of vision and energy. A dry rot afflicts
the state in South Asia, and radical Left Wing mobilisation
is accelerating processes of disintegration across wide
geographical areas in the region.
Nowhere is this more dramatically evident today than in
the crumbling political realities of Nepal, where the bankrupt
dogmas of feudalism and Maoist
communism appear locked in a struggle to death, and where
fourteen years of democracy have produced little more than
an multitude of cantankerous and embittered veterans who
would rather see their country in ruins than share power
and responsibility at a common table.
No single initiative over the past three years - since the
war escalated after the attack at the Army barracks at Dang
on November 23, 2001 - suggests any reversal of the quickening
decay that has infected the vitals of the country. This
is, truly, as The Economist recently remarked, a
country "unable to offer its citizens anything other than
poverty and fear".
And poverty and fear have mounted exponentially over the
15 months since the collapse of the ceasefire and negotiation
process on August 27, 2003. At least 4,193 persons have
been killed in the conflict since that date, and not a single
one of Nepal's 75 districts has remained untainted by fatalities
Nine of these districts have, in fact, experienced over
one hundred killings since the breakdown of the ceasefire,
with Dang leading at 294 dead (till December 24, 2004).
Myagdhi was at second place, with 242 killed. Another 20
districts have had between 100 and 50 fatalities, and 46
districts have had less than 50 fatalities in this period.
Only eight of Nepal's 75 districts counted the dead in single
digits, with Bhaktapur, the tiny ancient capital abutting
Kathmandu, at the fortunate bottom of the list, with just
two killed. Kathmandu itself saw 44 deaths connected with
over the past months have shown some decline in comparison
to the unnatural peaks they crested in the six months following
the collapse of the August ceasefire, they remain at levels
that are distressing, and show
some trends to escalation as both the
Maoist's and the state's positions harden. Much of this
killing, however, is by the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) and
the newly raised Armed Police Force, as they seek to re-establish
their domination in areas - particularly in the mid-western
and far-western region - that have long been lost to the
Maoist sway. Of the 4,193 killed since August 27, 2003,
as many as 2,943 (70.19 per cent) have been categorised
as 'Maoists' in reports. Little of this, however, translates
to greater state control over these regions.
Indeed, if anything, Kathmandu appears increasingly vulnerable,
as complete political disorientation prevails amidst another
and major crisis that has been provoked by the Maoist's
second blockade of the capital, which commenced on December
23, 2004, and is to continue 'indefinitely'. The proclaimed
intent of the blockade is to force the Government to disclose
information relating to 'hundreds of missing comrades' and
to protest against alleged custodial killings of Maoist
As with its precursor, the
week-long blockade in August, the current
blockade is tactical, and deliberately linked to largely
symbolic objectives. It is compounded, moreover, by a multiplicity
of other blockades and restrictions in other districts,
including the widespread embargo imposed across the Tamang
Autonomous Region by the Maoist-affiliated Tamang National
Liberation Front. The Tamang region comprises the districts
of Dhading, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk, Dholakha and
Ramechhap, which form a crescent over Kathmandu, from the
West, through the North to the East. The Tamang embargo
commenced on the 20th, before the blockade of Kathmandu,
and has already disrupted life in the region for a week,
resulting in acute shortages of essential commodities, including
foodgrain and kerosene, the primary cooking fuel among the
poor, in wide areas across this region, though, prior to
the 23rd, supplies to Kathmandu were still to be significantly
In Kathmandu, the blockade was total over its first three
days, but some 200 cargo trucks, laden with essential commodities
and fuel, were able to penetrate the embargo under heavy
security forces escort on December 26. This is, at best,
a tiny trickle: more than 5,000 cargo trucks are estimated
to ply on the Prithvi Highway on the average day in 'normal'
circumstances, if, indeed, anything over the past years
can be described as normal in Nepal.
Indeed, the country's economy is now shattered, and developmental
projects are progressively coming to a standstill. Sultan
Hafeez Rahman, the Country Director of the Asian Development
Bank Nepal Resident Mission (ADB-NRM), for instance, indicated
that the ongoing conflict had affected all the ADB-assisted
projects in the country. Some internationally backed projects
have continued limited operations through the expedient
of 'registering' themselves with the Maoists and in many
cases paying some 'taxes' to the insurgents, but Rahman
clarified that his organisation has refused to register
its developmental programmes with the insurgents, and consequently
is unable to continue many of its schemes in rural areas.
Against this backdrop, in his message to cadres on the occasion
of Mao's 111th Birth Anniversery on December 26, Pushpa
Kamal Dahal aka 'Prachanda', the 'Chairman' of the Communist
Party of Nepal - Maoist (CPN-M) declared that the movement
had embarked on the first stage of 'strategic retaliation'.
The eventual objective, he added, was to establish the 'dictatorship
of the proletariat', and he reiterated his party's unambiguous
commitment to this idea.
The state's response continues to vacillate between importunate
offers of a truce, alternated by a rising desperation that
periodically transforms itself into ferocious, and at least
occasionally indiscriminate, military operations. There
is, moreover, a high measure of make-believe dominating
Kathmandu, and this was particularly manifest in the days
preceding the planned visit of King Gyanendra to several
locations in India, including New Delhi and the four States
bordering Nepal: West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal.
The visit, originally scheduled between December 23 and
January 2, was abruptly deferred as a result of the state
mourning announced on the death of India's former Prime
Minister, Narasimha Rao, on December 23. Gyanendra was expected
to come to Delhi with a standard wish-list of military hardware,
including helicopters and bullet and bomb resistant armoured
vehicles for intensified counter-insurgency operations.
Kathmandu, however, was rife with rumours that a 'secret
deal' with New Delhi was in the offing, which would cement
the King's power and barter Nepalese 'sovereignty' for direct
military intervention by India to resolve the insurgency
- by all measures as fantastical a scenario as any that
can be imagined given the current constitution and orientation
of the United Progressive Alliance regime, and, indeed,
the general and increasingly conservative thrust of India's
policies within the South Asian region.
Part of the current make-believe is also the rhetorical
reiteration of the promise to hold early elections - again,
as improbable an event under current circumstances as can
be conceived. The Government's 'deadline' to the Maoists
to join the peace talks by January 13 has also been routinely
echoed, though it is far from clear what the Government
plans or hopes to do in the face of Maoist intransigence.
In effect, apart from conspiracy theories, fantasies and
knee-jerk reactions to Maoist provocation, the political
leadership in Kathmandu clearly has no game plan for the
restoration of any measure of order or relief to the people,
beyond frantic measures to retain a semblance of control
in the immediate vicinity of the Capital. The Maoists, on
the other hand, have both strategy and tactic, and have
employed these to secure extraordinary advantages. Absent
any radical strategy of response, the immediate future can
only see a further consolidation of their agenda.
On October 18, 2004, just as his Government was about to
enter a round of negotiations with the Left
Wing Extremists (also called Naxalites)
in Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy
remarked, "How can any Government agree to the demands of
people who insist on carrying arms?"
Amidst repeated reports of forcible occupation of private
and forest lands by the Communist Party of India - Maoist
(CPI-Maoist), with whom the Andhra Pradesh Government is
currently in negotiations, State Home Minister K. Jana Reddy
asserted, on November 7, 2004, "Only an elected government
can control surplus lands and distribute them to the poor…
Nobody else would be allowed to take the law into their
hands." On November 27, Naxalite mediator, S.R. Sankaran,
expressed his concern over rising incidents of Naxalites
grabbing private and Government lands. Earlier, on November
8, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) President,
Keshava Rao Jadhav, and its general secretary, Jaya Vindhyala,
accused the Naxalites of 'endangering the peace process
by destroying forests for the sake of land distribution.'
Illegal timber felling, incidentally, is also a lucrative
source of Naxalite revenues.
Again, on December 16, the day after a landmine explosion
triggered by the Naxalites had injured four policemen, Home
Minister Jana Reddy complained, "With or without the ceasefire
it is the same for the Naxalites as they are acting as per
their whims and fancies, extorting money from the poor and
helpless and blasting landmines."
On December 2, the Chief Minister reiterated, "…we will
not tolerate any act of violence as there is no room for
private weapons in democracy."
In the interim, the leadership of the CPI-Maoist has repeatedly
emphasized that it will not relinquish its 'right to bear
arms', its 'revolutionary objectives' including the forcible
redistribution of land, extraction of 'revolutionary taxes',
'political mobilization', recruitment and training of cadres.
Nor, indeed, has the Maoist leadership made any secret of
its abiding commitment to secure the larger goals and objectives
of the people's war, which incorporate the destruction of
India's 'comprador bourgeois' Constitutional democracy.
Addressing a public gathering on October 11 at Guthikonda
Bilam in Guntur District, Akkiraju Haragopal aka 'Ramakrishna',
the 'State Secretary' of the CPI-Maoist, declared that 'the
people' were prepared to "wage a relentless struggle" against
the state, and that the Party would continue to maintain
the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army, the armed wing of
the CPI-Maoist, to capture political power in different
regions of the country. Ramakrishna also declared, ahead
of the first direct talks with the State Government on October
15, "Our ultimate goal is to capture power region-wise and
establish people's rule. Now, we have an army of people
and are on firm ground in 13 States."
Despite all this, albeit after some characteristic dithering,
Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy eventually ordered an 'indefinite
extension' of the 'unofficial cease fire' after the six
month duration announced in June came to an end. "We will
maintain status quo," he declared ambiguously, "The
Police would continue to adopt the same stand as they have
been doing for the last six months. The Naxals, too, should
maintain restraint and create a congenial atmosphere for
There is, however, no ambiguity whatsoever about what the
Maoists are doing. Even while the Andhra Pradesh ceasefire
was in place, the Naxalites executed the most dramatic of
strategic advances in their history - the unification in
September of the two major factions, the CPI - Marxist-Leninist
- People's War (or People's War Group, PWG)
and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC)
under the banner of the CPI-Maoist. Efforts to bring an
increasing number of lesser factions under this umbrella
identity have since met with some progress. At the same
time, the Naxalites have established themselves across the
widest geographical area that has ever been commanded by
Left Wing extremist movements in India in the history of
their existence. Crucially, they have extended their sway,
over the past one year, on an average, over
two districts each week.
Yet the state persists in negotiating on its knees. It is
now abundantly clear, at least in Andhra Pradesh, that the
State's leadership lacks the imagination and the will even
to co-opt critical elements of the Naxalite agenda - particularly
the issue of land redistribution. This tends to be unsurprising,
since many in the political leadership, and including a
majority of the ruling party's legislators and several of
its Ministers, come from the landed classes who have the
most to lose from land reforms and a strict implementation
of the Land Ceiling Act.
Clearly, the negotiation process will be allowed to meander
on, with the state's Forces continuing to operate under
extraordinary restraints, even as the Naxalites intensify
activities over expanding areas.
The dangers of the present trajectory are not restricted
to Nepal and the current concentration of Naxalite activity
along India's eastern board. Indeed, Bangladesh is currently
witnessing a cycle of violence and repression centred around
the activities of the Purba Bangla Communist Party (PBCP),
largely in the country's western districts bordering India.
The PBCP is a member of the Coordination Committee of Maoist
Parties and Organisations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA)
formed on July 1, 2001. At least 213 persons have been killed
in Left Wing related violence in Bangladesh this year alone,
though a majority of these (160) are alleged cadres of the
extremist group. Bhutan has also seen activities of the
newly created Bhutan Communist Party - Marxist-Leninist-Maoist
(BCP-MLM), which was formed with support from both the Nepalese
and Indian Maoist groups.
The Maoist ideology constitutes the gravest danger to democratic
governance in geographically the widest area threatened
by insurgent and terrorist violence and disorders in South
Asia. It is a movement, moreover, that has systematically
expanded its scope and influence over the past years, and
one that has been systematically underestimated by Governments
in the region, even as regimes here ignore the fundamentals
of governance and fail to provide large populations with
the basics of security, welfare, education, health, opportunities
for gainful employment and the essentials of human dignity.
This is how nations are weakened and this, eventually, is
how they disintegrate.
With inputs from
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management, &
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts
in South Asia
data compiled from English language media sources.
extends cease-fire with left-wing extremists in Andhra Pradesh:
On December 23, 2004, Andhra Home Minister, K. Jana Reddy,
after a meeting with the emissaries of the Communist Party of
India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara
Reddy, in Hyderabad announced that the cease-fire with the left-wing
extremists (also known as Naxalites) would
be in force till at least the second round of talks. He, however,
did not mention the exact date when the truce would be resumed.
India, December 24, 2004.
1575 army personnel killed during last three years in Jammu
and Kashmir: The Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, informed
the Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) on December 22, 2004,
that during the last three years and up to November 30, 2004,
as many as 1575 army personnel, including 102 officers, have lost
their lives during anti-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Providing details, the Minister disclosed that a total of 255
army personnel were killed during 2004 as compared to 464, 408
and 448 in 2001, 2002 and 2003 respectively. Kashmir
Times, December 23, 2004.
13 terrorist outfits in J & K and North East get foreign funds,
says Minister of State for Home: The Union Minister of State
for Home, Sriprakash Jaiswal, informed the Upper House of Parliament
(Rajya Sabha) on December 22, 2004, that some prominent terrorist
groups, including nine operating in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and
four in the Northeast, are receiving funds from foreign countries.
The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA),
All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF),
National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)
and People's Liberation Army (PLA),
all in the Northeast, are receiving funds from foreign countries,
Jaiswal stated. Indian
Express, December 23, 2004.
Government funds for North East reaches insurgents', says Union
Home Minister: Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, stated
on December 22, 2004, that Central funds for North Eastern States
inadvertently bankroll insurgent activity. ''Government money
is being used but that is not the end. Money flows by selling
of arms, ransom and bank robbery,'' Patil said after delivering
the Intelligence Bureau's 17th centenary endowment lecture in
New Delhi. He said the channels through which funds reach terrorists
should be identified and subsequently blocked. ''Terrorism as
such can be brought down if the flow of funds to terrorists is
checked, and if the youth can be given better employment opportunities,''
he added. Indian
Express, December 23, 2004.
No redrawing of boundaries, says Prime Minister Manmohan Singh:
Making a suo moto statement in the Parliament on foreign policy
related issues on December 21, 2004, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
said that India has made it clear to Pakistan that while it was
willing to look at "possible options" for a peaceful and negotiated
settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue, it would not agree
to any redrawing of boundaries or another partition of the country.
Dr. Singh informed the House that during his meeting with Pakistani
President, Pervez Musharraf, in New York in September 2004, "I
made it clear to President Musharraf that while we are willing
to look at various options, we would not agree to any redrawing
of boundaries, or another partition of the country." Daily
Excelsior, December 22, 2004.
State of emergency
could be declared, says Government spokesperson: Government
spokesperson and Minister of Information and Communications, Mohammed
Mohsin, is reported to have said that the Government could be
forced to declare a state of emergency if the Maoists
continued their indefinite blockades in different parts of the
country. After a four-hour long meeting at the Prime Minister's
residence on December 24, 2004, Mohsin, however, told reporters
that the council of ministers did not discuss the issue in the
meeting. The Minister also said the Government would employ 'full
state force' to combat the insurgency.
Meanwhile, the Government has formed a committee under the chairmanship
of Deputy Prime Minister, Bharat Mohan Adhikari, to ensure smooth
supplies of fuel and other essential items in the capital, Kathmandu,
and other parts of Nepal. The Government's response came after
people formed long queues in front of gas stations in Kathmandu
to procure petroleum products and reports of shortage of essential
items in the market following an indefinite blockade of major
highways in the country by the Maoists. The Prithvi highway -
a major supply route to the capital - remains deserted since December
Times, December 25, 2004.
death sentence in Musharraf assassination attempt case: A
military court has convicted two soldiers, sentencing one to death
and the other to life imprisonment, for their involvement in an
assassination attempt during December 2003 on President Pervez
Musharraf. They were accused in the first of two bombings targeting
Gen. Musharraf's motorcade in Rawalpindi on December 14, 2003,
said spokesperson Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan. Although Sultan said
both were low-ranking army personnel, he did not disclose their
identities. While the date of conviction has not been disclosed,
The News, quoting intelligence sources, said it was delivered
several weeks ago. Meanwhile, The Nation has reported that
investigations are also being conducted against 10 other personnel
of armed forces, including four Non Commissioned Officers of the
army and six of the air force. Jang;
December 25, 2004.
President's offer to revive peace talks: The Liberation Tiger
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
has rejected President Chandrika Kumaratunga's new proposal, conveyed
through Norway, to revive peace negotiations. Anton Balasingham,
the LTTE's chief negotiator, conveyed his outfit's official response
to Erik Solheim, Norway's Special Envoy to Sri Lanka, on December
24, 2004. The LTTE has reportedly called for a clear, coherent,
and well-defined agenda for peace talks and expressed their disapproval
of the structure and content of the Government's agenda because
of its vagueness and ambiguity. Tamil
Net, December 25, 2004.
Nepal: Weekly fatalities
after collapse of cease-fire
August 27, 2003-December 24, 2004
| Source: Computed
from English language media.
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