SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
The sheer scale and expanse of the Maoist (also known as Naxalite) enterprise in India was revealed on September 8, 2006, when the Andhra Pradesh police in one of the largest-ever haul of weapons in the country, recovered 875 rockets, 27 rocket launchers, 70 gelatine sticks and other explosive material belonging to the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) from the Mahabubnagar and Prakasam Districts. While 16 rocket launchers and 600 rocket shells packed in 53 gunny bags were seized at Jangireddypalli village in Mahabubnagar district, 275 rocket launchers packed in 27 bags were recovered from an unclaimed consignment in the Chennai-based Kranthi Transport Company, a private cargo mover, in the Giddalur town of Prakasam district. Further on, police at Vijayawada recovered 297 rocket shells and six rocket launchers from Autonagar on September 11.
Investigations revealed that parts of the rockets
and launchers were manufactured at lathe workshops
and foundries in the Chennai suburbs of Tamil
Nadu at the Everest Engineering Company, Universal
Casts and Bharath Fine Engineering, all located
at Padi, Jai Tech Engineering Company and Shanthi
Engineering Company, Korattur and Arun Engineering
Company and Dhanalakshmi Foundry, Mogappair.
According to Tamil Nadu Director General of
Police, D. Mukherjee, a Maoist ‘technical wing’
member, identified as Srinivasa Reddy alias
Raghu, came to Ambattur, another suburb of Chennai,
in 2002 and gained the confidence of these companies
by giving them small manufacturing orders. Thereafter,
with their cooperation, he manufactured rocket
components from 2003 to May 11, 2006. Later,
these components were assembled and transferred
to Andhra Pradesh.
This is not the first time that the Andhra police have recovered rocket launchers, but the sheer volume of the current recoveries is overwhelming. Some earlier recoveries include:
The Maoist quest for acquiring indigenously-made rockets launchers and shells were first conclusively demonstrated on May 6, 2003, when police recovered documents and design layouts for rocket launchers and mortars from an erstwhile People’s War Group (PWG) hideout on the Andhra-Orissa border. Officials said that the PWG had been working on the designs of the anti-tank Rocket Launcher M-1 of the US and the RPG-7 of Russian origin.
Apparently, the Maoists have kept working on developing rockets based on these designs arduously as, over the years, there have been incidents of crude variants of these being ‘test-fired’.
Following the April 25, 2005, seizure of rockets from the Anantapur District, Director General of Police (DGP) Swaranjit Sen had stated that the Maoists were in an ‘experimental stage’ of using rocket launchers made with crude technology. However, the rockets seized in the latest recoveries of September 8, 2006, shows a marked improvement. The DGP observed that the new weapons were shoulder-fired, and they had a manual triggering system instead of the earlier versions that were electrically ignited. Also, the warhead and propellant shell, the fin covers, trigger guard and the percussion cap were all very finely chiselled on a high-precision lathe machine, giving it the look of a well-made weapon.
Across the spectrum of the Naxalite affected States, the weaponry traditionally used by the Maoists mainly consists of weapons either looted from the paramilitary forces and the police or manufactured locally. Looting of weapons from security forces and their installations has been the easiest recourse available for the CPI-Maoist to arm their cadres. In one of the major incidents of this nature, on February 6, 2004, according to police sources, the Maoists looted approximately 200 weapons from different police posts in raids of Koraput town. A PWG press release on this operation claimed, “weapons, ammunition, grenades valued at INR 500 million were seized by the Naxalites of the People’s War. Among them there were 500 sophisticated weapons of different types (.303, LMG, SLR, Mortars, Stens, Revolvers, Pistols), along with more than 30,000 rounds of ammunition, number of Mortar shells and Grenades.” Again, on February 9, 2005, the Maoists cadres attacked the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) store in the Hirauli area of Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh and looted 17 rifles and close to 50 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, an explosive used to detonate iron ore mines. On November 11, 2005, over a hundred Maoist cadres attacked a home guard training centre at Pachamba in the Giridih District of Jharkhand and looted 183 rifles, two pistols and 2500 cartridges. Most recently, on March 24, 2006, following an attack on the Ramagiri Udayagiri sub-jail and other Government establishments in Gajapati District of Orissa, the Maoists looted 25 self-loading rifles, a pistol, a light machinegun and an AK-47 rifle.
Apart from looted weapons, the Maoists gain appreciably from weapons manufactured locally. According to intelligence reports, the Maoists are getting weapons from unlicenced weapon factories situated in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Bihar, while in certain areas of north Bihar, the Maoists have opened their own weapon factories. In September 2005, the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) had conducted a raid in Ganauli forest area in West Champaran District of Bihar and recovered 42 locally manufactured 12-bore guns, a bolt action rifle and a large quantity of ammunition.
Easy availability of explosives at throwaway prices is another significant source for the Maoists. According to Inspector General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) K.T.D. Singh, each bomb explosion by Maoists targetting security forces costs them no more than INR 500. All that the insurgents need to do is to buy gelatine sticks from mining contractors for INR 20 each and a detonator at no more than INR two.
Despite these assured sources, the Maoists have also developed a focused approach to upgrade their weaponry to outstrip the security forces. Technical wings, which employ Information Technology (IT) experts on monthly payment, have been set up to draw up plans to develop more potent explosives, tap governmental messages and access the latest techniques on guerrilla warfare. According to a report of the Jharkhand State Intelligence (Special Branch), two technical wings have been set up by the CPI-Maoist – a southern and northern zone, with each zone under the guidance of four experts at the top level.
This stress on upgradation is already bearing fruit at the ground level, both in terms of weapons and force multiplier technologies. In Andhra Pradesh, the Maoists have long possessed the technology to manufacture claymore mines and detonate these with remote control devices from a distance of up to five kilometers, making use of US-made Icom IC-V8 wireless sets. Earlier landmines had to be detonated from relatively close proximity using a camera flash connected to the mine by a wire. Following the arrest of a Maoist electronic and communications expert, Nimmala Anji Reddy, from Akkannapet railway station on March 6, 2006, it was also determined that the Maoists were able to listen in on police communications through improvised communication systems manufactured by in-house experts.
Again, in May 2006, the Visakhapatnam District police recovered pressure mine shells near the East Godavari border for the first time. According to Superintendent of Police V.V. Srinivasa Rao, the Maoists “seem to have copied the model that the U.S. Marines had used in Vietnam in the past. These mines will kill anyone who steps on them.”
In comparison to the sustained acquisition and upgradation plans of the Maoists, official skullduggery in certain regions continues to impede the modernization of police forces. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s report for 2005 pulled up the Jharkhand State Government for diverting funds meant for modernisation of the Jharkhand Police. The CAG report revealed that the State-level Empowered Committee headed by the Chief Secretary purchased sports utility vehicles (SUVs) worth Rs 15.70 crore for VIP cavalcades during 2004-2005, using money meant for the police. The funds were intended for two projects: construction of police lines in Deoghar and Lohardaga Districts and the replacement of condemned Police patrol vehicles.
At the 21st Coordination Centre meeting on Naxalism held on August 30, 2006, and attended by senior officials of 13 Maoist-affected States, an assessment was reportedly tabled suggesting that the Maoists were on the run in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This assessment appears to be based on declining levels of violence in the southern States, especially Andhra Pradesh. An objective assessment and effective counter-insurgency operation, however, demand that a number of other indicators be taken into consideration before proclaiming such dubious victories. The sheer availability of weaponry, the continuous operation and extension of Maoist extortion networks, and evidence of political and front-organisation operation across wide areas suggests that Maoist capacities have not been substantially eroded, and such an assessment is confirmed by the shock of the recoveries of the haul of weapons, projectiles and rocket launchers on September 8, 2006.
the years, the 4,096.7 kilometre-long India-Bangladesh
border has emerged as a major security challenge
for the country. Terrorist movements, the influx
of migrants, and the flow of arms and ammunition
from Bangladesh has posed serious and augmenting
problems for India. The scenario assumes an
even more critical character in the case of
smaller States like Meghalaya, which is surrounded
on the south and west by Bangladesh and which
shares a 443 kilometers long border with that
country, the third longest among five Indian
States, including West Bengal, Assam, Tripura
and Mizoram. All of Meghalaya’s districts (West
Garo Hills, South Garo Hills, West Khasi Hills,
East Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills), barring
two, East Garo Hills and Ri Bhoi, share borders
Strategic alliances between home grown militant groups such as the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) and the outfits operating in the neighbouring States, such as the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), compound Meghalaya’s problems. The ANVC, before it entered into a ceasefire with the Government, assisted such outfits in exploiting the ruggedness of the Garo Hills to play host to militants in transit, and to transport and store arms and explosives.
In May 2005, an explosives supply network backed by Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was unearthed in Lad Rymbai and Khliehriat areas of Jaintia Hills District. The operation came to light following the arrest of Mohammad Hasifuddin from Minkrie village under Khliehriat Police Station on May 15. Over 400 gelatine sticks were recovered from his possession. Hasifuddin had reportedly supplied explosives to ULFA to carry out the blast at Dhemaji on August 15, 2004. Ham Bahadur Thapa, a contractor in the coal mines at Khliehriat was also arrested. Police sources indicate that most of the explosives recovered during the raid had been ferried from across the Bangladesh border.
Militants and smugglers have taken advantage of complex riverine routes. The riverine segments of the international border have helped in the flourishing cross border illegal trade, especially smuggling of timbers to Bangladesh. According to BSF sources, the major rivers, used by timber smugglers, are – Lubia in Laijuri area, Harai river in Harai area (Jaintia Hills), Paru in Hangaria (Jaintia Hills), Piang or Umngot river in Dawki, Dulai river in Hathimara, Umew in Shella, Khasimala in Rynkua, Thamalia in Balat, Jhadukata in Ghomaghat and Chira in Lalghat near Borsora, Someshwari river in Baghmara, and Maheshkola and Mahadekola rivers in Garo Hills. Since the rivers and rivulets swell up with gushing water from the hills and help clandestine transportation of smuggled goods like timber through waterways, the monsoons are always a blessing in disguise for the smugglers from the Indian side. In year 2005, timber and bamboo worth INR 7.86 million was seized by the BSF from Garo Hills, while the seizure figure for 2006 (till July) was INR 6.04 million. Similarly, in Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the seizure of timber in 2005 amounted to INR 15.6 million, whereas the timber seized till July 2006 was valued at INR 4.12 million. Sources from Dawki area indicate that Bangladeshi nationals often entered Indian territory in large numbers to steal boulders from the Umngot river.
A project for construction of border roads and barbed wire fencing along the India-Bangladesh border was taken up way back in 1986 as one of the measures to check illegal infiltration and cross border activities. Meghalaya Governor, M.M. Jacob, on March 17, 2006, informed the Legislative Assembly that only 195 km (especially in Garo Hills) of the entire 443 kilometre Meghalaya border with Bangladesh had been fenced. The Inspector General of the BSF, J.K. Sinha, speaking on September 1, 2006, however, stated that the entire 198 kilometres already fenced would have to be redone as the fence was “not in good condition”.
In addition to such problems, fencing work on the Khasi and Jaintia Hills areas is seriously affected by protests by the local people, who have complained that their lands would fall outside the fenced territory. Protests led the Government to suspend the fencing work in the Jaintia Hills District on March 14, 2006. The movement against fencing is being led by the Co-ordination Committee on International Border (CCIB), a conglomeration of civil society organizations in the State, along with the Khasi Students Union (KSU). Speaking in August 28, 2006, CCIB Spokesperson G. H. Kharshanlor and KSU General Secretary Hamlet Dohling said, "The fencing work in the State has been kept in abeyance… We don't oppose fencing. What we want is that before starting the construction works, survey of the entire Indo-Bangla border in Khasi and Jaintia Hills should be conducted again". The CCIB demands that the fence be constructed as close as possible to the Zero-line and not 150 yards within the Indian territory, and their demands is based on the argument that the paddy fields belonging to the people living near the international border should not go to Bangladesh or fall into a no-man’s land. On September 1, 2006, an excavator used for construction of a link road for border fencing at Umkiang was torched by people opposing fencing.
Existing border safeguarding mechanisms have completely failed to stop the growing infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals into the State. According to one estimate, illegal migrants outnumber locals in the Jaintia coal belt. Available data indicates that the State Government’s efforts at containing the ongoing infiltration have been handicapped by poor detection and an even poorer record of prosecutions and convictions. The Meghalaya Government, among others, was asked by the Delhi High Court, on April 26, 2006, to depute its counsel to appraise the Court on the action taken to prevent infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals into the State. According to one report, out of the 14,726 foreigners detected since 2001 till March 3, 2006, only 206 have been prosecuted under the Foreigners Act, 1946. The report further mentioned that most of the foreign nationals entering the State from Assam have spread into the Jaintia Hills coal belt in areas such as Lad Rymbai, Khliehriat and Bapung, while others have mingled with the people in mixed population areas of Shillong. Meanwhile, Meghalaya Home Minister, H. Donkupar R. Lyngdoh, while responding to a supplementary question raised by a Congress legislator, Robert Garnett Lyngdoh, on March 21, 2006, informed the State Legislative Assembly that 3,094 infiltrators were detained in 2001 out of which just 54 were prosecuted. In 2002, a total of 2,537 persons were detained on suspicion and 42 of them were convicted. In the 2003, the number of detentions was 2,157 and the conviction figure was 72. The detention figure in 2004 was 1,596 with just 18 convictions. Till March 2006, 1,463 persons had been detected as foreigners and 14 convicted. The Central Forces haven’t fared any better. According to a status report submitted by the BSF before the Delhi High Court on May 22, 2006, just 31 Bangladeshi nationals were deported from the State between January and April 2006.
These reports gain a particular urgency, as the threat of Islamist terrorist groups operating in the State receive official confirmation, with W.R. Marbaniang, Director General of Police, Meghalaya, suggesting, on August 14, 2006, that there was some evidence of activity from outfits like the Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). “All inhabitants in the villages along the international border should heighten their vigil on possible infiltration of externally-sponsored terrorist elements,” Marbaniang said, adding a list of “dos and don’ts” for city residents as well. The statement followed a Union Home Ministry (MHA) directive to “start a high vigil” along the international border with Bangladesh, indicating that jihadi groups with bases in Bangladesh were constantly attempting to cross over to India through the Meghalaya or Assam side of the border.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
September 11-17, 2006
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Qaeda involved in Indian Airlines plane hijacking
in 1999, claims former body guard of Osama
bin Laden: Abu Jandal, a former bodyguard
of Osama bin Laden, has claimed that
operatives were behind the hijacking of the
Indian Airlines plane in December 1999, which
culminated in the release of Jaish-e-Mohammed
chief Maulana Masood Azhar and two other terrorists,
Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Omar Sheikh, at Kandahar
in Afghanistan. In a documentary aired on
Al Jazeera on September 16, 2006, Jandal said
Osama welcomed Azhar after his release and
threw a lavish party in his honour at the
Airport. Jindal further said that on the day
IC-814 was hijacked, he was told to ready
stinger missiles. “Sheikh told me to get my
missiles ready. We had Stinger missiles. Within
half an hour, we declared an emergency in
the area. The plane was flying over the Airport
building and then it landed. When I saw the
word Indian written on it, I realised what
was happening. When the plane landed, Taliban
forces were moving towards the area”, he said.
Indian Express, September
The statement said that the two leaders met in the aftermath of the Mumbai blasts and "strongly condemned all acts of terrorism and agreed that terrorism is a scourge that needs to be effectively dealt with." They also agreed to the resumption of the composite dialogue between the Foreign Secretaries "at the earliest," noting that the peace process must be maintained and its success was important for both countries and the future of the entire region. They also decided to continue the "joint search for mutually acceptable options for a peaceful negotiated settlement of all issues between India and Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, in a sincere and purposeful manner." Referring to the "useful discussions" on Jammu and Kashmir, the joint statement went on to say "there is a need to build on convergences and narrow down divergences." Dr. Singh accepted Gen. Musharraf's renewed invitation to visit Pakistan at a time to be fixed later. The Hindu, September 17, 2006.
India provides a list of 15 militant camps operating in Myanmar: On September 16, 2006, during the home secretary level talks with Myanmar at New Delhi, India provided a list of 15 camps belonging to the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and the Khaplang and Isak-Muivah factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) operating from Myanmarese territory. Both countries agreed to share real time intelligence on issues related to security, drug trafficking, arms smuggling and militant activities. The army, police and intelligence agencies of both countries will now convey information to their counterparts whenever they come to know about any movement related to drug traffickers, arms smugglers or insurgents. A mechanism for sharing such information will be devised. Telegraph India, September 17, 2006.
Court pronounces four of Memon family guilty in 1993 Mumbai blasts case:The designated Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court in Mumbai on September 12, 2006, pronounced four of the eight members of the Memon family guilty in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case. Justice P.D. Kode delivered the judgment convicting Yakub Memon, Yusuf Memon, Essa Memon and Rubeena Memon. The judge held the mother of the Memon brothers, Hanifa, and Raheen, Yakub Memon's wife, and one of the brothers, Suleiman Memon, not guilty. The verdict on the 123 accused will be pronounced in batches. All the four found guilty face charges under the TADA and various sections of the Indian Penal Code and will be sentenced subsequently and could get jail terms from five years to life imprisonment.
At least 257 people died and 713 were wounded in 13 bomb blasts across the city on March 12, 1993. The prime accused, Dawood Ibrahim, Anees Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and his wife and Ayub Memon and his wife are absconding. The Central Bureau of Investigation submitted in the charge sheet that the serial blasts were masterminded by Dawood Ibrahim, who is reportedly based in Pakistan at present, with the help of his associates Tiger Memon and Mohammed Dossa, allegedly at the instance of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's external intelligence agency, to avenge the demolition of the Babri mosque in December 1992. While Dawood was already outside India when the blasts occurred, Memon and Dossa fled a day earlier. The Memons had allowed the use of their garages to load RDX into vehicles used for bombing 13 crucial points in Mumbai. The Hindu, September 13, 2006.
Prime Minister Koirala and Maoist chief Prachanda hold talks: Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chairman Prachanda held an informal meeting at the official residence of the former in Kathmandu on September 17, 2006. Prachanda, who was accompanied by his deputy Babu Ram Bhattrai, reportedly complained that the peace process was being "delayed unnecessarily" and that the Government was involved in "suspicious activities". The Prime Minister told the Maoists not to doubt the Government's commitment in conducting elections to a constituent assembly. He also urged the insurgents to abide by the code of conduct signed by them. Nepali Congress Central Committee member Shekhar Koirala, who was also present at the meeting, said, "The meeting between the two leaders was mainly aimed at confidence-building." He said the two leaders exchanged views on giving a final shape to the interim Constitution, the modality of the constituent assembly and arms management. They agreed to hold "summit talks" before the end of September, and reach an understanding on important issues, Shekhar Koirala added. The Hindu, September 18, 2006.
US endorses Waziristan peace agreement: The United States (U.S.) indicated that the agreement the Government signed with pro-Taliban tribal chiefs in North Waziristan on September 5, 2006, has the ‘potential to work’. In a speech at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher endorsed the deal as an effort to get tribal support to defeat terrorism. He declared that no country had done more than Pakistan in the war against terror. Noting that the Government had carved out a new strategy to deal with the cross-border activities of Taliban and Al Qaeda, Boucher said: “The agreement really has the potential to work.” The U.S., he said, understood that to effectively control the Afghan border, Pakistan needed “cooperation from local tribes and they are really trying to get in.” Dawn, September 16, 2006.