SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
2,765 people died in terrorism-related violence in India during year 2006. A review of the data indicates that nearly 41 per cent of all such fatalities occurred in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) alone as a result of the Pakistan-backed separatist proxy war in that State. 27 per cent resulted from Left Wing Extremism (Maoism/Naxalism) across parts of 14 States, prominently including Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Karnataka. 23 per cent of the total fatalities in 2006 occurred in the multiple insurgencies of India’s Northeast.
By comparison, year 2005 witnessed a total of 3,236 fatalities in terrorism-related incidents across the country. The fatality index, consequently, registered a definite decrease in year 2006.
At least 231 of the country’s 608 Districts are currently afflicted, at differing intensities, by various insurgent and terrorist movements. Terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir (affecting 12 of the States 14 Districts), in different States of the Northeast (54 Districts) and Left Wing extremism (affecting at least 165 Districts in 14 States, estimate based on end-2005 data) continue to pose serious challenges to the country’s security framework. In addition, wide areas of the country appear to have ‘fallen off the map’ of good governance, and are acutely susceptible to violent political mobilization, lawlessness and organized criminal activity.
Jammu and Kashmir
Since 2002, terrorism-related fatalities have demonstrated a secular decline in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and this trend continued in 2006, with a total of 1,116 persons killed. More than 40,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict since 1989, and, even at present, an average of nearly 100 lives is lost each month in J&K.
Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Jammu and Kashmir
Source: Institute for Conflict Management database.
(Note: Compiled from news reports and is provisional)
Despite the declines in indices of violence, the State continues to suffer from high levels of violence and subversion. Pakistan’s military regime, which was forced to scale down its proxy-war under intense international scrutiny, has nevertheless shown no indication of dismantling the vast infrastructure of terrorism on its soil. According to the Union Home Ministry’s (MHA) "Status Paper on Internal Security Situation" (presented in Parliament on November 30, 2006), the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir is yet to be dismantled and is being "used by Pak based and Pak ISI sponsored outfits like JeM [Jaish-e-Mohammed], LeT [Lashkar-e-Toiba], Al-Badr, HM [Hizb-ul-Mujahideen], etc."
Amidst the hype on people-to-people contacts and confidence-building measures (CBMs), it is evident that the reduced levels of violence in J&K primarily reflect a tactical rather than strategic shift in the Pakistani calculus, as a two-pronged strategy of parallel talks and terrorism is pursued by the Musharraf regime to secure its ambitions against India.
Talks between India and Pakistan thus continue under the aegis of the Composite Dialogue, even as terrorism in J&K, and sporadically in other parts of the India, persists. At the same time, Pakistan has been complaining bitterly about the slow pace of ‘progress’ towards the goals it seeks to secure on the negotiating table, having failed to achieve these through its vicious campaign of terrorism over 17 years. The peace process, consequently, remains, tactical rather than substantive, as the hiatus between the rival positions on Kashmir remains unbridgeable, and much of the ‘progress’ has been in peripheral areas, such as the restoration of communication links, people-to-people exchanges, Track Two diplomacy and a range of confidence building measures. At the same time, the ground situation in J&K remains a cause for concern, as a stream of infiltrators continues to find its way into the terror wracked State. While the various CBMs currently operational between the two countries may have strengthened processes of 'emotional enlistment', have failed to alter India's and Pakistan's stated positions on the Kashmir issue, or to change the fundamentals of the conflict in and over Kashmir. An end to the bloodshed in the State, consequently, seems as unlikely today as it was at any given point since the dramatic escalation of the militancy in 1989-90.
There has been a marginal improvement in the levels of militancy in the Northeast. While 715 people died in 2005, 627 people were killed in militancy-related violence during 2006.
Nevertheless, certain States of the region have shown remarkable signs of recovery in recent years. Tripura, once considered to be one of the most violent States of the country, recorded 59 insurgency-related fatalities in 2006, down from 75 in 2005, and from a peak of 514 in 2000. Tripura is "carving out a success story in the troubled setting of India’s Northeast, as its Police force reorganizes radically to evolve a counter-insurgency strategy that has left entrenched militant groups in disarray." Building on a "model of a police-led response to terrorism, which saw the country’s most dramatic victory over this modern scourge in Punjab in the early 1990s, Tripura’s Police, under the leadership of its Chief, G.M. Srivastava, has reversed the trajectory of insurgent violence and, crucially, mobilisation… despite continued and vigorous support provided to the insurgent groups by Bangladesh, and the safe haven each of these outfits has been provided in that country."
The gains in Tripura are more than offset by the losses in Manipur, which, at 280 fatalities, now accounts for nearly 45 per cent of the fatalities in the Northeast – with just 5.6 per cent of the region’s population. Manipur thus remains the most violent State in the region, although there is a relative decline in violence, with total fatalities registering a decline from 331 in 2005. While a number of other States in the Northeast have or are being reclaimed from protracted insurgencies, Manipur continues to remain volatile. Large-scale extortion and its impact on ordinary lives, as well as on the lives of people at the helm of affairs in the State, are symptomatic of the virtual collapse of governance in the State.
Assam too remains a disturbed State with 174 deaths in 2006 compared to 242 fatalities in 2005.
Assam, which attracts far greater national attention and accounts for 69 per cent of the population of the Northeast, saw 174 fatalities in 2006, as against 242 in 2005. The militancy in Assam persists despite continuous and successful operations by the Security Forces, with the principal terrorist groups – particularly the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) – finding permanent safe haven and significant state support across the border in Bangladesh.
Nagaland, where a ‘peace process’ has been in place since 1997, saw the third largest number of fatalities in the region in 2006, with 90 dead, overwhelmingly in the fratricidal turf-war between the rival Isak-Muivah and Khaplang factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland. Both the militant outfits (NSCN-IM and NSCN-K) are in cease-fire agreements with the Government in Nagaland, but the Government continues been held hostage to the diktats of the insurgent groups. The process of negotiations has been complicated by insurgent groups that have appropriated the attributes of criminal and extortionist gangs, and successfully circumvent the due process of law by their engagement in the negotiation process with the Government.
The fight against insurgency in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh remains largely successful.
Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in India's Northeast, 2005-2006
Source: Institute for Conflict Management
(Note: Compiled from news reports and is provisional)
In spite of the Government’s efforts in bringing all militant outfits to the negotiating table, the region continues to remain disturbed. Indeed, ‘peace processes’ that have consistently failed to get to the bottom of the core issues of the conflict, are themselves fraught with problems, producing a rush to enter into unprincipled agreements with particular, with little concern regarding the broader outcome on other groups, and on the region at large. The prevailing orientation to ‘peace processes’ and negotiations with terrorist groups have often "paralyzed the state and have even occasionally undermined the will of elements within the Security Forces to act with determination against terrorism. They have certainly undermined the capacity of the political and administrative leadership to define coherent policies against terrorism, and to implement these consistently."
The militant groups operating in various States of the Northeast have usually found refuge in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar. Fencing along the 4,096.7 kilometre-long border with Bangladesh, suggested as a remedy to the problem of militancy, has not been completed, leaving ample scope for easy entry and exit by the militants. Similarly, a number of militant groups operating in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur have taken shelter in Myanmar.
Accounting for 27 per cent of the total fatalities in India during 2006, Left Wing extremism constitutes what Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh rightly described as the "single biggest internal security challenge" confronting the country. The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), today, exercises dominance over a large swathe of the country’s territory, carry out attacks on security forces and symbols of governance at will. Chhattisgarh has now emerged as one of the principal centres of a co-ordinated Maoist movement. Indeed, with 361 fatalities in 2006, Chhattisgarh is the most violent State after Jammu and Kashmir. While the number of Maoist-affected States in the country is currently pegged at 14, the movement has demonstrated the intent and potential to spread across the length and breadth of the country. The Maoist threat has now overtaken all other insurgencies in the country – at least from the perspective of geographical spread, with various levels of Maoist mobilisation and violence currently afflicting at least 165 Districts in 14 States. Over the past years, moreover, while fatalities in various other insurgencies have tended to decline consistently, fatalities related to the Maoist conflict have continuously augmented.
A total of 742 persons died in Maoist-related violence across the country in 2006, up from 717 in 2005. Chhattisgarh in 2006 emerged as the worst affected State – dramatically displacing Andhra Pradesh – and the Dantewada District was by far the worst off within the State.
Fatalities in Maoist Violence, 2005-2006
Source: Institute for Conflict Management database
(Note: Compiled from news reports and is provisional)
According to the Union Home Ministry’s Status Paper on Internal Security, the marginal increase in casualties of civilians is mainly due to high violence levels in Chhattisgarh and to some extent in Jharkhand. The paper noted that, "Chhattisgarh alone accounts for 49.30 per cent of total incidents and 59.80 per cent of total casualties in the current year." There is, however, no assessment of the reasons for the decline in violence in other States – other than Andhra Pradesh, where focused Police action has resulted in a flight of the Maoists – and there is reason to believe that the decline in violence is a Maoist decision, rather than any significant gain on the part of the state Forces. Maoist efforts are evidently and increasingly focused on political mobilization and consolidation over wider areas.
It is useful to recognize, within this context, that the threat of the Maoists 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." Significantly, the CPI-Maoist has established "Regional Bureaus across a mass of nearly two-thirds of the country's territory, and these regions are further sub-divided into state, special zonal and special area committee jurisdictions, where the processes of mobilisation have been defined and allocated to local leaders. This structure of organisation substantially reflects current Maoist plans, but does not exhaust their perspectives or ambitions. There is further evidence of preliminary activity for the extension of operations to new areas including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Meghalaya, beyond what is reflected in the scope of the regional, zonal and state committees." Maoists have also articulated a new strategy to target urban centres in their "Urban Perspective Document", drawing up guidelines for "working in towns and cities", and for the revival of a mobilization effort targeting students and the urban unemployed. Two principal 'industrial belts' have been identified as targets for urban mobilisation: Bhilai-Ranchi-Dhanbad-Calcutta and Mumbai-Pune-Surat-Ahmedabad. Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil told the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) on December 5, 2006, that Maoists were now planning to target important installations in major cities of India. Patil said "Like forests provide safe hideouts to Naxalites in tribal areas, the cities also provide them cover. Taking advantage of this, they plan to target major installations in cities."
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, have succeeded in beating back the Naxalites to a large extent, and have 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 122 police personnel per 100,000 population, and some peaceful States with ratios as high as 854/100,000 (Mizoram) and 609/100,000 (Sikkim), Bihar has just 57, Jharkhand – 85, Chhattisgarh – 103 and Orissa – 90, and even Andhra Pradesh, just 98 per 100,000 population. Worse, there is ample evidence that large proportions of the Central allocation for police modernisation and up-gradation remain unspent or are being diverted or mis-spent. Utilization of funds has been particularly poor over the years in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
Islamist Terrorism outside J&K and the Northeast
At least 270 people died in Islamist terrorist violence in locations outside J&K and the Northeast during 2006. The significant incidents included:
March 7: At least 21 civilians were killed and 62 others injured in three serial bomb explosions at a temple and railway station in Varanasi. Seven bombs were later defused, including four that had been planted on the Gowdolia-Dasashwamedh Ghat Road near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Hours after the blasts, a suspected LeT terrorist was shot dead during an encounter with the police in the Gosaiganj area on the outskirts of Lucknow city.
April 14: Two bombs exploded inside the Jama Masjid at Delhi injuring approximately 14 persons, including a woman and a girl.
June 1: Three suspected LeT terrorists were shot dead during an abortive attempt to storm the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu organization, at Nagpur in Maharashtra.
July 11: At least 200 persons were killed and over 700 others injured in seven bomb blasts targeting the railway network in the city of Mumbai. First class compartments of local trains at Mira-Bayandhar, Jogeshwari, Mahim, Santacruz, Khar, Matunga and Borivli stations on the Western Railway were targeted.
September 8: Forty people killed and 65 sustain injuries in three bomb explosions at Malegaon town in the Nashik District of Maharashtra.
According to the MHA’s Status Paper, the current strategy of Pakistan-based terrorist groups is to:
The Status Paper discloses that the LeT and JeM also use territory and elements in Bangladesh and Nepal for movement of terrorists and finances. Army chief J. J. Singh, on December 27, 2006, stated that "As terrorists are finding it hard to penetrate the fence and new anti-infiltration systems placed all along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and in Punjab… The areas bordering Nepal and Bangladesh are still porous and intelligence reports suggest that terrorists are trying to use them to infiltrate into India."
According to data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management, at least 81 Inter-Services Intelligence-Jihadi modules have been disrupted just over the years 2004-2006, leading to hundreds of arrests across India – outside Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast – in locations that extend from Uttaranchal in the North, to Andhra Pradesh in the South, and from Gujarat in the West to West Bengal in the East. These modules had been tasked to target security and vital installations, communication links, and commercial and industrial centres, as well as to provoke instability and disorder by circulating large quantities of counterfeit currency and by drug trafficking. The National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan had stated, on July 28, 2006, that Indian security and nuclear installations are under "very serious threat" from the LeT, which may be planning a "major assault".
Worse, terrorist attacks by Pakistan-backed groups have occurred in places as far as Delhi, Mumbai, Malegaon, and Varanasi in 2006. Terrorist attacks in places like Mumbai and Varanasi in 2006 and earlier at Bangalore (December 28, 2005) and New Delhi (October 29, 2005) are only the more visible evidence of a long-term war of attrition by Pakistani state agencies and their jihadi surrogates, intended to undermine India’s political stability, by increasingly attacking its economic, scientific and technological strengths. The frequency, spread and, in some cases, intensity of these operations in other parts of the country has seen some escalation in the past years, as international pressure on Pakistan to end terrorism in J&K has diminished levels of ‘deniable’ engagement in that theatre, and as violence in J&K demonstrates a continuous secular decline since the events of September 11, 2001 in the US.
It is important to note, however, that despite occasional and inevitable terrorist ‘successes’, this relentless strategy – which has targeted virtually every concentration of Muslim populations in India for decades – has overwhelmingly failed to secure a base within the community, beyond a minuscule radical fringe. Further, the record of intelligence and security agency successes against such subversion and terror, although lacking the visibility and drama of a terrorist strike, is immensely greater than the record of the successes of this strategy.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
December 25-31, 2006
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
754 Bangladeshi infiltrators arrested along Assam-Meghalaya border in 2006: The Border Security Force (BSF) arrested 776 Bangladeshi infiltrators along the Assam-Meghalaya border in 2006 (till November). 754 were handed over to police and 22 to the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR). According to BSF sources, most of the 754 Bangladeshi nationals handed over to the police were deported to the neighbouring country after talks during BSF-BDR flag meetings. Smuggled goods worth over INR 85 million, including forest produce valued at INR 24 million, narcotics worth INR 7.09 million and cattle valued at INR 19 million, were recovered from the Indo-Bangladesh border. The seizures included fake Indian currency worth INR 33,000. PTI News, December 30, 2006.
No al Qaeda presence in India, says Union Home Secretary: : The Union Home Secretary, V. K. Duggal, said on December 28, 2006, that there was no al Qaeda presence in India. "There has been no report of any Al Qaeda presence in our country though we know of some terrorist groups targeting economic and other infrastructure… I say this with full responsibility," Duggal told reporters at Bhubaneswar in the State of Orissa. The Hindu, December 28, 2006.
'Eastern division commander' of CPI-Maoist and his wife killed in Andhra Pradesh: The 'eastern division commander' of the People's Guerrilla Army of the banned Communist Party of India - Maoist (CPI-Maoist), Varkapur Chandramouli alias Devanna, and his wife Jyothakka were killed during a shootout with the Police in the forests of Visakhapatnam District, 590 kilometres east of the State capital, Hyderabad. Chandramouli, directing Maoist activities on the Andhra Pradesh-Orissa border, was sixth in the hierarchy of the CPI-Maoists, and carried a reward of INR One Million on his head. He was suspected to have masterminded a series of abductions of politicians and bureaucrats since the 1980s in Andhra Pradesh. The Hindu, December 29, 2006.
US not dropping Maoist terrorist tag immediately: The United States said on December 31, 2006, that it will not be dropping its terrorist tag on the Maoists immediately. The US Ambassador James F. Moriarty stated that it was not deemed necessary to remove the terrorist tag since "There had been no apparent change in the Maoist activities… I am not sure what they've been doing. The violence is continuing, the intimidation, kidnappings are continuing. If they stop those, then it will be a good time to review the US policy." Kantipur Online, December 31, 2006.
Afghan border to be fenced: Pakistan has decided to put in place landmines and a fence along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border as a last resort to stop cross-border movement of terrorists, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said on December 26, 2006. "By taking such steps we want to show our intention to those who have been blaming Pakistan for not controlling the infiltration of the Taliban into Afghanistan," he said in Islamabad. Sherpao also disclosed that the Government had already deployed 80,000 troops and established over 800 check posts on the border. Dawn , December 27, 2006.