SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Truth Won’t Go Away
Another ritual has been completed. On March 31, 2006, the Directors General and Chief Secretaries, along with other senior police and administrative officials of 13 ‘Naxalite’ (Maoist) affected States in India met with a number of Central Ministers and officials at Delhi to be reminded of the stock phrases and clichés about ‘multi-pronged’ approaches, sharing of intelligence, intensified developmental efforts in affected areas, ‘speeding up’ of long-stalled land reforms, police modernization and strengthening, and above all, the ‘adoption of a collective approach’ and ‘coordinated responses’ by the States. In a slight departure from earlier years, the meeting emphasised that they would be no talks with any Maoist group, state unit or faction, unless they unambiguously gave up arms. Further, it was evident that the Centre continues to extend support to the Salva Judum misadventure, as it was decided that ‘local resistance groups would be trained in self-defence’ albeit, now under greater police protection. For those who had been holding their breath for startling disclosures of a dramatic and comprehensive strategy or policy on the Maoist challenge at this meeting, the effort was altogether wasted. The platitudes articulated at the meeting of the Coordination Centre simply repeated the formulae laid out in the March 13, 2006, ‘status paper’ on the Naxalite problem tabled in Parliament by the Home Minister, and in substance, the Annual Report of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), 2005-2006, released earlier. There is little evidence of any hard design that could help translate these platitudes into an effective strategy and structure of implementation.
There is a deeper infirmity in all this. These various exercises are in continuity with nearly three years of fudging the issue, of underplaying the problem. Thus, at the Coordination Centre meet, emphasis was particularly laid on the fact that, while total fatalities had increased significantly, ‘if Chattisgarh were excluded, the number of incidents and casualties would come down by at least half’, and that while Naxalite violence was on the rise in this one State, ‘the situation in 12 other affected States was by and large under control’.
Such frantic clutching at statistical straws cannot constitute an objective assessment of the magnitude of the threat. It is clear that the decline in Maoist violence in all other affected States, with the exception of Andhra Pradesh – where well-equipped and prepared Police and Paramilitary Forces appear to have been given a clear political mandate to act forcefully against the rebels – is a tactical choice on the part of the Maoists rather than the consequence of any significant State action or initiative, or any dramatic improvement in the strength, effectiveness and capacities of the security apparatus. Indeed, the vulnerability of the security system in these States has been repeatedly and unequivocally demonstrated in a succession of audacious attacks by the Maoists, who have struck at will on targets of their choice. Attacks this year alone have already included the overrunning of the Ramagiri Udayagiri township and jail in Orissa, the ‘hijacking’ of a train in Jharkhand, the murder of a former Member of the Legislative Assembly in Bihar, as well as a number of attacks on Police Stations and Security Forces transports in various States.
Underplaying the Maoist threat is everywhere in evidence in the establishment discourse, and is part of a long tradition within the intelligence and security community, which has sought to propagate the fiction that the Naxalite threat is an ‘internal problem’ that can ‘easily be contained’. This has been an established article of faith, demanding no proof, and has been routinely parroted by senior intelligence and security officials, undeterred by the fact that this ‘easily contained’ problem has refused to go away for over forty years.
In his classic, On War, Clausewitz noted, “The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and Commander have to make is to establish... the kind of war on which they are embarking: neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive.” Regrettably, there is little evidence that India’s security establishment has even begun to make this ‘act of judgment’ or display to capacities to arrive at an accurate determination of the nature of the ‘protracted war’ in which the Maoists are engaged, and to which they remain unswervingly committed.
In the meantime, the Maoist threat appears to have overtaken all other insurgencies in the country on available objective parameters – geographical spread and number of fatalities. At least 165 districts in 14 States, out of a total of 602 districts in the country, were affected by various levels of Maoist mobilisation and violence by the end of year 2005. Terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir affects 12 districts, while the combined influence of the multiple insurgencies in India’s Northeast afflicts, in various measures, 51 Districts in India’s Northeast. Over the past years, moreover, while fatalities in various other insurgencies have tended to decline consistently (with the exception of Manipur) fatalities as a result of the Maoist conflict have continuously been augmented. It is useful, in this context, to compare the trajectory of fatalities in the Pakistan-backed ‘jihad’ in Jammu & Kashmir, unambiguously India’s worst problem in terms of fatalities till last year, with the Maoist toll.
Total Fatalities in J&K and Maoist Violence
It is useful to see the degree to which the establishment’s ‘act of judgment’ is flawed or distorted by wishful thinking and obfuscation. The Ministry of Home Affairs Annual Report for 2004-2005 noted that the Naxalites had an “assessed strength of around 9,300 hard-core underground cadres”. The MHA’s report for 2005-06 gives no numerical estimate of the armed strength of the Maoists, but noted that “Naxalites continue to focus on fresh recruitment and militarization of their cadres.” Nevertheless, on March 8, 2006, the Union Minister of State for Home, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) stated that the present strength of ‘armed Naxalites’ was “around 7,200”. Where did 2,100 armed cadres go? And if the Maoists’ military strength has been so substantially eroded (by nearly 23 per cent), what explains their rampage across wide and expanding areas of the country?
There is also an apparent effort to equivocate on the rate of expansion of the Maoist influence as well. An official note circulated at a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Naxalite-affected States at Delhi on September 21, 2004, stated that as many as 149 districts in 12 States were variously affected by Naxalite activity. The MHA Report 2005-2006, however, declares that “Parts of 76 districts in 9 States… are badly affected by Naxal violence though in varying degrees.” In addition to the fig leaf of ‘badly affected’, there is also the oft-repeated quibble over the fact that only ‘parts of’ these districts, and not the ‘entire districts’ are, in fact, affected. These ‘parts’ are then defined in terms of numbers of Police Stations affected. Thus the MHA’s report claims that 509 police stations in 11 States were affected by “Naxal violence” in 2005, underlining further that the “Total number of police stations in the country is 12,476”. But this is specious at several levels: first, on the same argument, the entire jurisdiction of these Police Stations is not affected, only parts are under Naxalite influence and activity, and we would need, then, to perhaps further disaggregate to village or household level; moreover, the same arguments applied in the preceding year when the much larger numbers of districts were being enumerated as highly affected, moderately affected, marginally affected and targeted; moreover, the threat of the Naxalites is not limited to the areas of immediate violence, nor does this threat vanish if violence is not manifested at a particular location for a specific period of time. It is in the complex processes of political activity, mass mobilisation, arms training and military consolidation that the Maoist potential has to be estimated. While incidents of violence and fatalities would be crucial in any threat assessment, they cannot exhaust its entire content. The authority of the law and of the state, moreover, is an indivisible; if it is successfully challenged in one location, it is weakened everywhere.
Facts, Aldous Huxley unfortunately reminds us, do not cease to exist because they are ignored – or, one may add, brushed under the carpet. The truth is, the Maoist menace continues to expand, except where it has been confronted by coherent use of force – as is presently and substantially the case in Andhra Pradesh, where area domination exercise under the leadership of the local Police, backed by the armed reserve forces and the Grey Hounds, and a well-developed intelligence network has succeeded in beating back the Naxalites to a large extent, and has forced their leadership into flight. The Andhra Pradesh Police has long prepared for this confrontation and has consistently developed its capacities to engage with the Maoists in their ‘strongholds’, though it has been repeatedly inhibited by political constraints from effective action. These constraints appear, for the moment, to have been lifted.
Other States, however, remain far from prepared. Indeed, a consistent feature across all the major Maoist-affected States is that they have extraordinarily poor policing capacities. As against a national average of 123 police personnel per 100,000 population, and some peaceful States with ratios as high as 760/100,000 (Mizoram) and 602/100,000 in Sikkim, Bihar has just 56, Jharkhand – 74, Chattisgarh and Orissa – 92, and even Andhra Pradesh, just 99 per 100,000 population. Worse, there is ample evidence that large proportions of the Central allocation for police modernisation and upgradation remain unspent or are being diverted or mis-spent.
Great faith has repeatedly been placed on ‘developmental initiatives’ in Maoist-affected regions, and this was again reiterated at the meeting of the Coordination Centre, which emphasised the need for ‘speedy land reforms’ and ‘streamlining the delivery mechanisms for implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, Bharat Nirman, Backward Districts Initiative and the Prime Minister’s Rural Roads Programme. These exhortations neglect fundamental realities of the ground in areas of conflict, where the delivery mechanisms and administrative machinery of the state cowers under the shadow of violence, with Government officials often paying extortion sums and ‘revolutionary taxes’ to the Maoists. ‘Land reforms’ will have little impact in regions where a red flag on a piece of land conclusively alters its title; and the funds flowing in for various developmental schemes have no channels into the rural hinterland, where only the para-military column dares to venture.
Another aspect of establishment delusion is the faith placed on the capacity of the Constitution’s Article 355 to empower the Centre to generate the adequate and permanent mechanisms for a coordinated counter-terrorism offensive spanning as many as 14 Indian States. Law and order remains firmly a State subject, and the history of coordination between States has been abysmal. Article 355 may give the Centre overriding powers to “protect the States… against internal disturbances”, but this is an emergency power that suffers from all the documented infirmities of Article 356, and will prove more effective in its abuse than in its use. It cannot create the permanent institutional mechanisms required for a protracted war against the Maoists, including the establishment of Central agencies with standing powers to act across State boundaries over extended periods of time, with or without the assent of (potentially politically hostile) State Governments. It is clear that little thinking has gone into the framework of legal and constitutional changes that will be needed to effectively tackle a coordinated insurgency that already afflicts over a fourth of the country.
Standing Committee of Chief Ministers of Naxalite-affected
States is scheduled to meet on April 13, and is
to be addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Prime Minister, in the past, has articulated
a much clearer message and mission on this issue
than any of his Cabinet colleagues, or, indeed,
than is evident in the collective voice of his own
Government. It remains to be seen whether this exercise
continues with the ritualism of the past, or is
finally able to define a concrete and implementable
agenda for the future. For now, the state has little
to congratulate itself on.
The ‘peace’ in Sri Lanka has held out for four years – though a string of killings, including some high profile political assassinations, continued recruitment and training of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres, the abduction and forcible recruitment of children by the rebel group, a continuous arms buildup, and a wide range of activities manifestly inconsistent with the idea of peace have persisted without interruption throughout this ‘peace’. The sheer relief of having avoided open and large-scale warfare, however, has encouraged both the Sri Lankan Government and the ‘international community’ to look the other way, or merely register formal protests, even while the LTTE continues to consolidate its military and political power in its areas of domination.
Procuring adequate finances lies at the heart of this process of consolidation, and fundraising remains the LTTE’s lifeline. A range of front organizations, both in Sri Lanka and among the Lankan Tamil Diaspora, play a crucial role in keeping this lifeline intact.
The Tamil Diaspora has long been a source of easy and regular finance for the LTTE. In the early years of the insurgency and particularly following the 1983 anti-Tamil riots, the exodus of a number of Tamils from the northern parts of the country and capital Colombo was viewed as a setback for the LTTE's recruitment for their the Eelam war. Over time, however, this created significant advantages as the Diaspora was increasing organized and tapped to meet the rebels’ financial needs. Estimates vary, but the number of Sri Lankan Tamils has been put in the region of approximately 200,000-250,000 in Canada; 110,000 in the United Kingdom; 50,000 in Germany, and about 30,000 each in Switzerland, France, and Australia; no authoritative figures are available for the US, but estimates vary between a modest 50,000 to 300,000. In recent years, this ready source has come under some pressure in the United States and United Kingdom, due to the ban imposed on the outfit – though front organizations are quick to reinvent their identities and resume operations – but in Canada and in the European Union nations, the Tamil Diaspora groups continue to act without any significant legal constraints to secure funds for the LTTE. .
A well-established and efficient mechanism for the collection and handling of LTTE finances has been set up across international borders. All Diaspora activities operate under its ‘International Secretariat”, which operates from Kilinochchi in Sri Lanka and has designated ‘country representatives’ who exercise coercive influence over all Tamil expatriate activity in each country through their respective Tamil Coordinating Committees (TCC). To facilitate the transfer of Diaspora contributions, a number of country-specific organisations have been formed, but a pivotal role has been played by the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) that was established in 1985, with an extensive network of branches operating in at least 13 countries. Sources indicate that the TRO also maintains a number of bank accounts in these countries including the Barclays Bank in Paris, the Spatkasse Monchengladbach bank in Germany, the BG Bank in Denmark and the TD Canada Trust Bank in Canada.
Following the Tsunami of December 26, 2004, the TRO was able to collect a huge amount in donations by Tamil expatriates. According to sources, between January 1st and August 15th 2005 alone, the TRO had received a sum of US$ 9,383,923 as donations. Apart its comprehensive fundraising mechanisms, the Diaspora also acts a powerful pressure group that has substantially created the margins within which the LTTE is able to continue with its activities. It is significant that, in 2000, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had identified eight nonprofit organizations in Canada as fronts of the LTTE. And noted, “Most funds raised under the banner of humanitarian organizations such as the TRO are channeled instead to fund the LTTE war effort.” The CSIS recommended that the LTTE be added to the list of banned organizations under the Anti-Terrorism Act, and this recommendation had been put up to the Cabinet on several occasions. However, the large number of Tamils present in the country, and the political and electoral influence they wield in certain constituencies, has precluded effective action against the LTTE, and the Cabinet has rejected the CSIS recommendations each time.
In January 2005, the Canadian ex- Justice Minister Irwin Cotler conceded quite frankly, “Toronto I think has the largest number of Tamils... outside of Sri Lanka, so we’ve got to be very careful just in terms of our own relationships.” Such ‘concern’ has been advantageous for the Liberal Party, securing overwhelming support from the Tamil constituency during elections. It is useful to note that, while the February 2006 Parliamentary Elections paved the way for the Conservative Party to gain victory over the Liberal Party after a gap of nearly 12 years, the Conservatives failed to win a single seat in the three major cities of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, which host a significant Tamil Diaspora.
In the run-up to the elections, the Conservatives had declared their intentions to ban the LTTE. On January 19, 2006, the Conservative Party’s Deputy Leader and Public Safety Critic, Peter MacKay, had stated, “I think we have to be definitive in saying that we certainly support the Tamil community, but there is a very clear and distinct line that has to be drawn when it comes to terrorist fundraising that we feel is happening in Canada right now, based on CSIS reports”.
Intelligence reports estimate that, during the pre-ceasefire period, the LTTE were getting $10 million a year from Canada alone. Following the declaration of cease-fire in 2002, reports indicated a dip in collections, but recent Canadian media reports suggested a resurgence of fundraising and extortion efforts. In November 2005, members of Toronto's Tamil community disclosed that they were being asked for money by door-to-door LTTE fundraisers for ‘Eelam War IV’. Community members said they were told to make an immediate cash-contribution of $2,500, and that those who didn’t contribute would not be allowed to travel in Tamil-controlled parts of Sri Lanka when they returned for visits.
This threat is real, since the LTTE maintains a record of Tamil expatriates, ascertained through elaborate forms that have to be filled out by expatriate. On duly filling the forms, the expatriate is provided with a ‘Tamil Eelam Identity Card Number’ that is used for future reference as well as during visits to the LTTE-controlled territories of Sri Lanka.
Within Sri Lanka itself, the LTTE has adopted a system called ‘Nandavanan’ to collect information regarding any person of Tamil origin who resides overseas. Each member of the Tamil Diaspora is monitored from the moment they enter LTTE controlled areas. Such individuals are spotted by LTTE border guards and asked for proof that monthly or yearly ‘taxes’ have been paid by the former in their host country. These ‘taxes’ or ‘pledges’ tend to be on the higher side (some reports peg them at $25,000 to $100,000 annually), if the person has a business establishment. If the LTTE cadre implementing ‘Nandavanan’ is of the view that persons had not contributed sufficiently to the cause, they are instructed to pay up immediately or write an undertaking to do so on return. Following this, all information is communicated by the ‘Nandavanan’ cadre to the Tamil Coordinating Committee of the country concerned, with the order to obtain the balance sum ‘due’ to the LTTE from the individual on return.
Even in countries where it is proscribed, such as Australia and the United States, the LTTE continues to effectively raise funds through sympathetic social and cultural organisations. The US State Department has identified the World Tamil Association, World Tamil Movement, the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, the Ellilan Force, and the Sangilian Force as front organizations of the LTTE, but the TRO is not on this list. In Australia, on the other hand, in January 2005, the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer stated in the Federal Parliament that the Government had identified the TRO as an entity associated with the LTTE and that the Government has not funded TRO’s development program because of this association. Nevertheless, proof of continuing LTTE activities in Australia was provided on November 23, 2005, when Australian Federal Police (AFP) raided premises of LTTE operatives in Melbourne and arrested more than 15 persons for questioning, including Thillai Jeyakumar, head of the LTTE operations in Australia and its ‘Economic Advisor’ Jeyarajan Maheswaran. The AFP also seized computer hardware, passports, cash, diaries, bank receipts, and cheque books from the operatives. Further, The Australian had reported that the TRO had collected close to $1.1 million in donations from Australia following the Tsunami.
The European Union, on the other hand, continues to use the ‘threat of ban’ instead of actually banning the LTTE. On September 27, 2005, threatening to list the LTTE as a terrorist organisation, the European Union said its member states will no longer receive the rebel delegations because of continued violence by Tigers in Sri Lanka. However, such threats are far from sufficient to deter the LTTE from continuing to consolidate its position, both financially and politically. For instance, on March 15, 2006, a Sri Lankan Tamil Social Democrat member of the Herning City Council in Denmark, Arul Thilainadarasa, was expelled from his party following the disclosure of his links with the LTTE. The Tamil politician was exposed as a former Chairman of the Tamil Coordination Committee in Denmark, which reportedly ran 28 ‘Mother Tongue’ schools throughout the country and received funds from the city councils.
The LTTE continues to exploit the lack of uniformity between countries in terms of significant action against its mechanisms for fundraising and extortion. The prevalent period of ‘no war’ has also allowed the LTTE to secure greater bargaining power among western audiences, while the fear of an imminent threat of return to war has, at the same time, helped it to corner more donations from the Tamil expatriate population who, in turn, would not like to abandon the eelam in times of war. For the LTTE, it is, consequently, profitable to keep the pot boiling without letting it flow over.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
March 27 - April 2, 2006
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
violence on the rise in Chhattisgarh but under control in
other States, says Union Home Secretary: Following the
Co-ordination Centre meeting attended by the police chiefs
and Chief Secretaries of 13 Maoist-affected States in New
Delhi on March 31, the Union Home Secretary V. K. Duggal
admitted that Maoist violence was on the rise in 2006 in
Chhattisgarh but claimed the situation in 12 other affected
States was by and large under control. Compared to 475 violent
incidents in the first quarter of 2005, there were only
391 in year 2006, though the number of casualties went up
from 114 to 157. The number of security force (SF) personnel
killed till March 30, 2006 is 47 as against 45 during the
same period during year 2005. "There have been more civilian
casualties, the intensity was also higher," Duggal said.
Maoist violence on the rise in Chhattisgarh but under control in other States, says Union Home Secretary: Following the Co-ordination Centre meeting attended by the police chiefs and Chief Secretaries of 13 Maoist-affected States in New Delhi on March 31, the Union Home Secretary V. K. Duggal admitted that Maoist violence was on the rise in 2006 in Chhattisgarh but claimed the situation in 12 other affected States was by and large under control. Compared to 475 violent incidents in the first quarter of 2005, there were only 391 in year 2006, though the number of casualties went up from 114 to 157. The number of security force (SF) personnel killed till March 30, 2006 is 47 as against 45 during the same period during year 2005. "There have been more civilian casualties, the intensity was also higher," Duggal said.
Chhattisgarh, which bore the brunt of Maoist
attacks in the first quarter of this year, 162 incidents
were reported compared to 97 in the same period during 2005.
"In this year's incidents, there were 105 casualties, including
27 of security personnel”, he disclosed. During the same
period in 2005, three civilians and six SF personnel were
killed. The Home Secretary also disclosed that local resistance
groups would be trained in self-defence and given police
protection. He added that there was a consensus at the meeting
that such groups were useful although it should be ensured
that local resistance was encouraged in areas effectively
dominated by SFs, so that the people there did not become
vulnerable to attacks. A four-pronged strategy was also
discussed to strengthen the Railway Protection Force, the
Government Railway Police, the State police and intelligence
agencies. Further, all States were asked to fill up vacancies
in their police force. The
Hindu, April 2, 2006.
In Chhattisgarh, which bore the brunt of Maoist attacks in the first quarter of this year, 162 incidents were reported compared to 97 in the same period during 2005. "In this year's incidents, there were 105 casualties, including 27 of security personnel”, he disclosed. During the same period in 2005, three civilians and six SF personnel were killed. The Home Secretary also disclosed that local resistance groups would be trained in self-defence and given police protection. He added that there was a consensus at the meeting that such groups were useful although it should be ensured that local resistance was encouraged in areas effectively dominated by SFs, so that the people there did not become vulnerable to attacks. A four-pronged strategy was also discussed to strengthen the Railway Protection Force, the Government Railway Police, the State police and intelligence agencies. Further, all States were asked to fill up vacancies in their police force. The Hindu, April 2, 2006.
Government unveils 14-point policy to tackle Maoists: In
a note on the Maoist problem placed in Parliament by Union
Home Minister Shivraj Patil on March 13, 2006, the Government
has spelt out a policy to combat the challenge posed by
the Maoists. The 14-point policy stresses upon the States
to adopt a collective approach and pursue a coordinated
response to counter it. It emphasizes that there will be
no peace dialogue by the affected States with the Maoist
groups unless the latter agree to give up violence and arms.
Another component of the policy is that it asks political
parties to strengthen their base in Maoist-affected areas
so that the youth could be weaned away from the path of
Maoism. "Efforts will continue to be made to promote local
resistance groups against Naxalites
but in a manner that the villagers are provided adequate
security cover and the area is effectively dominated by
the security forces," the note said. .
Union Government unveils 14-point policy to tackle Maoists: In a note on the Maoist problem placed in Parliament by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on March 13, 2006, the Government has spelt out a policy to combat the challenge posed by the Maoists. The 14-point policy stresses upon the States to adopt a collective approach and pursue a coordinated response to counter it. It emphasizes that there will be no peace dialogue by the affected States with the Maoist groups unless the latter agree to give up violence and arms. Another component of the policy is that it asks political parties to strengthen their base in Maoist-affected areas so that the youth could be weaned away from the path of Maoism. "Efforts will continue to be made to promote local resistance groups against Naxalites but in a manner that the villagers are provided adequate security cover and the area is effectively dominated by the security forces," the note said. .
paper lauded the Andhra Pradesh Government's surrender and
rehabilitation policy for Maoists, which has produced good
results over the years. It asked other States to adopt a
similar policy. Referring to the counter measures, it said
that overall counter action by the affected States in terms
of Maoists killed, arrested, surrendered and arms recovered
from them has shown much better results in 2005. While admitting
that Maoists have been raising land and livelihood related
issues, the note stresses upon taking up land reforms on
a priority basis. In the first two months of 2006, the number
of deaths recorded in Maoist-violence stands at 116, the
note added. The
Hindu, March 29, 2006.
The paper lauded the Andhra Pradesh Government's surrender and rehabilitation policy for Maoists, which has produced good results over the years. It asked other States to adopt a similar policy. Referring to the counter measures, it said that overall counter action by the affected States in terms of Maoists killed, arrested, surrendered and arms recovered from them has shown much better results in 2005. While admitting that Maoists have been raising land and livelihood related issues, the note stresses upon taking up land reforms on a priority basis. In the first two months of 2006, the number of deaths recorded in Maoist-violence stands at 116, the note added. The Hindu, March 29, 2006.
8,029 Maoists killed since RNA deployment in November 2001: The Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) has disclosed that over 8,029 Maoists have been killed in security actions since its deployment against them in November 2001. Army officials stated during a regular press briefing at the RNA headquarters in Kathmandu on March 28, 2006 that of the 8029, 5086 were killed after the breakdown of cease-fire in August 2003. An additional 1723 Maoists were killed thus far, including 401 of them since September 3, 2005 when the insurgents had declared a unilateral truce. 635 army personnel lost their lives since the breakdown of peace talks in August 2003 till March 28, 2006. It said the 3869 Maoists have surrendered till date. The Maoists have killed 1237 civilians since the onset of the insurgency, the RNA statement added. Nepal News, March 29, 2006.
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen chief wounded after abduction near Islamabad: Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman Khalil, chief of the outlawed Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), was dumped in front of a mosque in the outskirts of Islamabad in an injured condition after being abducted on March 29, 2006. Harkat spokesperson Sultan Zia told BBC that Khalil had been taken from a mosque in Tarnol, three miles from Islamabad, during evening prayers. An official told Reuters "They badly thrashed him and his driver with rifle butts and they have serious head injuries. At the moment, doctors are not letting us see Maulana because of his critical condition." Daily Times, March 30, 2006.
Three Hizb-ul-Mujahideen cadres arrested in South Waziristan: The police are reported to have arrested three cadres of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), a terrorist group active in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, carrying explosives and ammunition at Tank near South Waziristan on March 28, 2006. Senior Superintendent of Police Dar Ali Khattak said the three were on their way from South Waziristan in a vehicle when they were apprehended at a checkpoint in Tank. "We recovered explosives, arms and ammunition, and some manuals for making bombs," informed Khattak. However, Hizb spokesperson Saleem Hashmi said the allegation that the group’s cadres were roaming around the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan was an attempt to "blacken the name of Kashmiri fighters." Dawn, March 30, 2006; Daily Times, March 29, 2006.
25 persons killed in clashes between followers of clerics in NWFP: At least 25 persons were killed and as many injured in gun-battles between followers of two religious groups at Bara in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The clashes at Sur Dand area in Khyber Agency commenced on March 27, 2006 when supporters of cleric Mufti Munir Shakir laid siege to the house of a staunch follower of rival cleric Pir Saifur Rehman. Shakir and Rehman reportedly ran illegal FM radio channels and the clerics, who used abusive language against each other in sermons on their channels, had left the tribal region some time ago under Government pressure. Officials claimed the two were orchestrating violence to force the administration into allowing their return to the region. BBC reported that the clash was about territorial control and enforcing the conflicting Muslim beliefs of the two rival clerics. Dawn, March 29, 2006.
Taliban execute one person under Sharia in South Waziristan: The local Taliban executed a 25-year-old man for killing a taxi driver in South Waziristan under Sharia (Islamic law), said residents on March 27, 2006. The execution is the first case tried under Sharia in the tribal areas. Hayat Gul was executed on March 26 at an undisclosed location in the Ladah sub-division after a Taliban Shura (council) ‘found him guilty’. "The accused was buried on Monday," Inayatullah Mehsud, a shopkeeper in Ladah Bazaar told Daily Times. Gul was accused of killing Bilal, a taxi driver, in Wana during February 2006. Clerics had announced imposition of Sharia in South Waziristan on March 10, 2006. The execution comes two days after Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao denied the Taliban presence in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Daily Times, March 28, 2006.
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