SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
The January 5-7, 2007 massacre in eastern Assam of at least 57 migrant workers from Bihar by rebels of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), one of Northeast India’s most potent separatist groups, essentially proves two things – that the insurgents are trigger-happy and continue to lurk around to strike at largely helpless soft targets in a bid to arm-twist the authorities; and that fluctuating and tactless Government behaviour over matters of dealing with the insurrection has led to disastrous consequences.
The manner in which ULFA hit-squads, in groups of three to six, went about selectively identifying Hindi-speaking workers in the eastern districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar and Dhemaji, segregating them from non-Hindi speakers in some cases, and then shooting them dead from almost point-blank range in thirteen separate incidents, demonstrates that the rebel group was out to create terror and nothing else. Top police officials told this writer that, apart from AK-47 assault rifles, the rebels had also used Universal Machine Guns (UMG) in the attacks. At least one UMG has been recovered by the security forces from the scenes of carnage.
On this occasion, the usual alibi of a ‘failure of intelligence’ can hardly be cited. The ULFA had itself given sufficient forewarning of violence to come. In a December 2006 issue of its mouthpiece Swadhinata (Freedom), usually circulated through e-mail, the ULFA had said that "outsiders" had set up "mini Bihars", "mini Rajasthans" and "mini Bengals" in different Districts of Assam, and called for their ouster. In 2003, and earlier in 2000, ULFA had carried out similar pogroms against Hindi-speaking people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, killing a total of nearly 150, mostly brick kiln and dairy workers, daily wage earners, etc. The State’s massive counter-insurgency machinery ought to have anticipated such a strike on the Hindi-speaking migrant workers after the ULFA call, and perhaps even have evacuated them or directed them to move to safer areas. Hindi speakers are seen by radical forces in Assam as symbolizing the Government that rules this country, or are seen to be part of the dominant political establishment, and seen to be cornering livelihood opportunities that ‘rightly belong’ to ‘locals’.
That the ULFA was going to indulge in something as mindless or devastating as this was, moreover, to be expected for more reasons than one: first, it is bent on making New Delhi sit up and perhaps compel it to concede some of its immediate demands, such as the release of five of its top leaders from prison – and random killings and attacks on soft targets have been a settled ‘negotiating ploy’ in the past; secondly, ULFA was trying to make sure that its call for a boycott of the upcoming National Games at Guwahati between February 9 and 18, 2007, was taken seriously by the authorities. The National Games are India’s biggest sporting event and ULFA knows only too well that the Congress-led Government in Assam has a lot at stake. The successful holding of the National Games is expected not only to boost the State’s image outside, but would also be a big feather in the cap of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, one of the rare political leaders in Assam to have led his party to victory in two consecutive State elections. The call for a boycott of the National Games was, consequently, a key bargaining ploy to secure immediate ULFA objectives, including the release of detained leaders, getting the heat of counter-insurgency operations off its back yet again, and perhaps even forcing the Government to resume peace talks, but on terms more acceptable to ULFA. The assassination of two grassroot-level Congress leaders in Tinsukia and Golaghat Districts respectively, coinciding with the massacre of Hindi speakers, falls in the same pattern that seeks to create maximum terror and corner the Congress-led Governments, both at Dispur (Assam’s official capital) and in New Delhi.
It is significant that the latest string of attacks began on January 5, 2007, a day after Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal visited Guwahati to review the security for the National Games in view of the ULFA threat. Duggal gave out a strong signal that the Games would be held on the dates fixed at any cost. There was nothing wrong in that message. But, if media reports are to be believed, the Home Secretary added, rather gratuitously, that the ULFA threat need not be taken seriously. Apart from the fact that such an observation adds nothing to any objective threat assessment, it appears to have been taken as a provocation by ULFA to demonstrate the ‘seriousness’ of their intentions.
New Delhi has, in fact, played according to the ULFA script. That the Home Secretary had to rush to Guwahati to review the Games’ security was itself a ‘victory’ for the rebels. Such a visit was both unnecessary and counter-productive, as a security review could have been done from New Delhi itself. Worse, New Delhi’s decision to rush Minister of State for Home, Sriprakash Jaiswal, to the worst-affected Tinsukia and Dibrugarh Districts after the ULFA massacres, is another questionable act, confirming that the impact of the attacks has, indeed, been massive. In such a situation, the authorities required to ensure that the injured receive proper treatment, survivors and the next of kin of the deceased are given immediate relief, and, of course, intensify efforts to neutralise the killers. High-profile political visits do little to further any of these ends and provide nothing more than a further supply of the ‘oxygen of publicity’ to the perpetrators of terror.
The ULFA insurgency appears to be escalating once again after the fragile peace process broke down in September 2006. The peace initiative in itself was kick-started by the ULFA, when it constituted a peace panel called the People’s Consultative Group (PCG), comprising 11 hand-picked representatives, on September 7, 2005. The Government of India held three rounds of talks with the PCG between October 2005 and June 2006, one meeting each attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Shivraj Patil, respectively. These exploratory parleys were to have led to possible direct talks between the ULFA and New Delhi, and resulted in the Centre announcing a ‘unilateral suspension of military operations’ (an euphemism for a ceasefire) on August 13, 2006. The truce snapped six weeks later and on September 24, 2006, New Delhi ordered the Army back on the ULFA’s trail.
Assam Government officials now disclose that New Delhi had decided to go for a truce with the ULFA in August 2006 without even consulting the State authorities. If this is the case, the Centre had clearly gone for a reckless gambit in Assam vis-à-vis the ULFA. That New Delhi again misjudged the ULFA’s intentions has become clear with authorities in Assam as well as the intelligence community now coming up with details of how the rebels used this six-week interregnum to regroup, renew old contacts, relocate or hide weapons and explosives, and even fix improvised explosive devices in interior roads used by the security forces. There was also a clear difference of opinion between the State and the Central Government over the approach to deal with the ULFA insurgency. However, if New Delhi did go ahead with the truce without taking the State Government into confidence, ULFA’s latest accusation that the Centre, and particularly Home Secretary Duggal, is not interested in pushing peace or is sabotaging the peace process, can hardly hold good. In any event, the peace process was derailed essentially because the two sides came up with pre-conditions and counter-conditions that were not acceptable to the other party — the Government wanted a written assurance from the ULFA that it was indeed interested in talking peace; the ULFA insisted on the release from prison of five of its leaders, all members of its 18-member policy making central committee.
Assam Police data shows that, between 1991 and October 2006, Security Forces have killed 1,128 ULFA cadres and have captured another 11,173. Further, 8,465 ULFA militants surrendered before authorities during the same period, and ULFA lost its largest base, in Bhutan, after the Royal Bhutan Army’s December 2003 assault on the rebels. Despite these gigantic reverses, ULFA continues to strike terror in Assam. Of course, ULFA has been forced to change its strategy from direct gun battles with Government Security Forces to carrying out ‘stealth attacks’ – bombings on soft targets – thereby taking care to reduce casualties on its side. Unlike the targeted assassinations and attacks of the past, ULFA had increasingly resorted to triggering off Improvised Explosive Device blasts in public places, killing civilians. Between January and October 2006, 92 civilians were killed in 100 explosions across Assam. Through the latest massacres, of course, the ULFA has demonstrated that it has not given up on the Kalashnikov and the UMG, indicated rising levels of confidence, though their targets remain soft.
The incoherence of Government policy must at least partially be blamed for these developments. There is little evidence of a clear decision on whether the security forces are to go full steam against the ULFA, keeping up the heat of counter-insurgency operations without a break, or whether a serious process of negotiations is to be established and sustained in a forceful and sincere manner. Both the Centre and the State Government have failed to rid themselves of a high measure of tentativeness in dealing with the problem. It should be clear by now that neither the ULFA nor the Government can expect to engage both in war and peace at the same time. The Government must recognize that the ULFA is an idea and a force whose strength cannot be conclusively defined in terms of the number of cadres the group has, or the number of rebels killed or captured. At the same time, ULFA needs to recognize that it can never hope to achieve a military victory.
Sriprakash Jaiswal who visited Assam on January 7, 2007, and met with the kin of those killed in the latest massacres, as well as others, may actually send in 7,000 to 9,000 more paramilitary troopers to combat the elusive ULFA rebels as demanded by the State authorities. But this will do little to end the dance of death across the State. After his meeting with Gogoi, Jaiswal grandly declared that "ULFA was taking its last breath". Just a few hours later, ULFA killed another eight workers from Bihar in Sivasagar District and one in Dibrugarh District.
Providing security to sections of vulnerable people in remote areas is simply impossible, irrespective of the quantum of Force available in the State. The Assam Government is seeking a joint military offensive involving Assam and the adjoining Arunachal Pradesh, which borders the eastern Tinsukia District, and indications are that New Delhi will okay this proposal. There is little hope, however, that such a move will bring an end to insurgency in Assam. The abiding question is, can the political leadership carry a clearly defined policy to its logical end? And does the ULFA really want peace? Answers to these questions are difficult to find. Things are far from transparent, and there are several forces, both internal and external, at play. The result: innocent people are drawn into the vortex of the violence itself and pay with their lives, again and again, with sickening regularity.
Pradesh: Looming Threat of Subversion
There is now significant cumulative evidence that Uttar Pradesh (UP), a crucial Indian State in more ways than one, is currently facing threats from multiple sources of subversion.
A report, prepared by the Additional Director General of Police, Padman Singh, on November 27, 2006, disclosed that there had been terrorist-related crimes in 17 of UP’s 70 Districts. The affected districts are: Meerut, Kheri, Lucknow, Aligarh, Gorakhpur, Agra, Jhansi, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Fatehpur, Rampur, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Bijnor, Faizabad, Jaunpur and Varanasi. Geographically, terrorist groups have reportedly infiltrated into all the regions of the State. The officer revealed further that recent trends demonstrated the involvement of technically qualified youth in terrorist activity. Trends also indicated "ability to operate autonomously in small cells, deadly use of explosive devices, careful selection of soft and hard targets and willingness to inflict mass casualties."
Earlier, on November 24, 2006, the Inspector General of Police of the Special Task Force (STF) in UP, Jagmohan Yadav, stated that UP had emerged as one of the major centres of the activities of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its proxy terrorist groups in India. Yadav disclosed that ISI-trained Indian ‘sleeper modules’ had even infiltrated small towns of the State, adding that both the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had spread their tentacles in UP, with Meerut, Almorah, Baghpat, Phoolpur and several other cities emerging as hubs of ISI activities. The trend has been noted by others who follow terrorism closely, and Praveen Swami noted in March 2006: "Since 2001, Uttar Pradesh has seen the interdiction of at least 22 cells linked to Pakistan-based jehadi groups, in operations which led to the elimination of 10 terrorists, mainly Pakistani nationals, and 34 arrests."
The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), formed on April 25, 1977, at Aligarh in UP, is currently regarded as having a national presence. SIMI is alleged to be involved in the October 2005, Delhi serial bomb blasts; the July 11, 2006, Mumbai serial train blasts; and the September 8, 2006, Malegaon serial blasts. SIMI, with a strong base in UP’s Universities, reportedly provides logistic support to groups like the LeT, JeM and Harkat-ul-Jehad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B). It is believed to enjoy the support of a segment of the Muslim populace in cities such as Kanpur, Rampur, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Lucknow and Azamgarh in UP. Official sources are reported to have identified nine districts in UP, where the SIMI is suspected to be engaged in subversive activities – Lucknow, Kanpur, Aligarh, Agra, Faizabad, Bahraich, Barabanki, Lakhimpur Kheri and Azamgarh. A continuous recruitment drive by SIMI cadres has also been noticed in the Jaunpur, Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Ambedkar Nagar, Aligarh, Azamgarh, Sonauli, Ferozabad and Hathras areas of UP.
There are at least some indications of political collusion or at least reluctance on the part of the State Government to take action against SIMI activists. Speaking in the State Legislative Assembly on August 23, 2006, the UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav ruled out the involvement of the SIMI in recent terrorist attacks in the State. Earlier, on July 13, 2006, he had said that the SIMI was not active in the State and there was no evidence of its involvement in any unlawful activity during his regime and that even though Union Government had banned the organisation, as far as its existence in UP was concerned, it would be improper to initiate action without evidence. Electoral considerations, clearly, appear to be influencing the State Government, where a State Home Department spokesperson stated in May 2006 that since the organisation was not involved in "any activities" and neither had UP received any complaint against SIMI, it would not support the continuation of the ban. Further, in the first week of June 2006, the Sunni Central Waqf Board in UP appointed Mohammad Ismail Syed Shareef, a leather industrialist and a known SIMI sympathizer, as the caretaker and manager of Kanpur city's oldest and biggest seminary — the Jaam-e-Uloom. And the State Government successfully moved an application in a district court in Baharaich seeking withdrawal of cases against SIMI chief Shahid Badar Falah, which, on September 6, 2006, granted permission to withdraw a treason case against him and 11 other members of the outfit. Further, SAIR had noted in July 2006
Mohammad Aamir, the chief of SIMI's Uttar Pradesh State unit and the prime accused in the Kanpur riots of March 16, surrendered before a metropolitan magistrate on April 25 after spending a night with the police. Before the media could get a whiff of the surrender, Aamir, who is believed to have spent almost a year in terrorist training camps in Bangladesh, was ensconced in the barracks of Kanpur Jail. With pressure to act against Aamir mounting, the surrender proved a convenient way out for the State Government, after an earlier plan for his surrender in March was aborted on grounds of political expediency.
Prominent among incidents of Pakistan-backed Islamist subversion in UP in 2006 were:
February 1: LeT activist, Zubeid, and a suspected ISI agent, Kuer Singh Yadav, were arrested from Varanasi.
March 7: At least 21 civilians were killed and 62 injured in three serial bomb explosions at the Sankat Mochan temple and the 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 in Varanasi, a suspected LeT terrorist was shot dead in an encounter with the police in Gosaiganj area on the outskirts of Lucknow city.
April 5: Police arrested HuJI cadre, Wali Ullah, a mastermind of the March 7-serial blasts in Varanasi, and five of his accomplices, Mehboob Ali, Syed Shuaib Hussain, Farhan, Mohammad Rizwan Siddique and Mohammad Saad Ali, from different parts of Uttar Pradesh.
September 13: An alleged ISI agent, Tasneem, was arrested by the Anti-Terrorist Force in connection with the September 8-bomb blasts in Malegaon.
December 28: Police arrested two alleged ISI agents, Abdul Shakoor and Adeel Anjum alias Adil, and disclosed that both had entered India after receiving training in Pakistan. The duo, residents of Multan in Pakistan, was arrested from Kaiserbagh in Lucknow.
In all, 46 incidents of reported subversion in UP have been documented by SAIR between April 2001-December 2006. Nevertheless, the Samajwadi Party-led UP Government remains in a denial mode, and has sought to brush SIMI’s role and activities under the carpet.
UP is also engulfed by the Maoist problem, which now affects the length and breadth of India. Although the fatalities in Maoist-violence are negligible (2 Maoists killed in 2006, 1 civilian and 6 Maoists in 2005), the arrests and seizures in the State are a pointer of the deeply entrenched Maoist presence in the State. At least seven Districts of the State are now affected, in varying degrees, by left-wing extremism. Although the casualties in Maoist violence over the past years have been low, the Maoist presence in the eastern Districts bordering Bihar has been a cause for concern for some time now. 26 villages of the Gorakhpur Division have been identified as Maoist-affected, 25 of these in Deoria District and one in Kushinagar District, and a list of 680 Maoist-affected villages across the State has been handed over to the State Government after a survey. In addition to the 26 in Gorakhpur Division, there are 226 villages in Chandauli, 88 in Mirzapur, 254 in Sonbhadra, 33 in Ghazipur, 54 in Ballia and two in Mau District, which affected by significant Maoist activities.
The significant incidents involving Maoists in UP during 2006 included:
January 3, 2006: 'Sub-zonal area commander' of the CPI-Maoist, Bhola Pal alias Rakesh, was arrested from Alinagar in Varanasi.
February 12, 2006: An ‘area commander’ of the CPI-Maoist, Sukhari Chaudhary, was arrested from Naikaha village in Sonebhadra District.
March 25, 2006: Mahangu alias Chiru, a Maoist 'Deputy Area Commander', was arrested near Karail Bandhi village in Sonebhadra District.
March 25: The police recovered 250 kilograms of explosive material and 1,500 detonators from a jeep in the Lalganj area of Mirzapur District.
March 30, 2006: An ‘area commander’ of the CPI-Maoist, Giri Nath Kol, was killed in an encounter with the police at Varanasi.
August 31, 2006: The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Janashakti or CPI (ML) Janashakti ‘Central Committee secretary’ and four other ‘State Committee’ leaders of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and UP were arrested from a bus stand in the Barabanki District.
October 12, 2006: Pappu Bind, a criminal from Bihar linked with the erstwhile Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), was killed near the railway track in the Lahartara area in Varanasi.
The porous Indo-Nepal border along the North Eastern reaches of the State has been a major factor in the activities of subversive forces that are currently targeting UP. According to official sources, these elements receive full support from the ISI, which operates through its Embassy at Kathmandu and has several transit bases in Nepal. On December 28, 2006, for instance, the UP Police arrested two Pakistani nationals linked to the ISI, Abdul Shakur and Adil Anjum alias Adil, at Qaiserbagh in Lucknow. Both had entered the State via Nepal, and possessed Indian passports. Vital documents regarding the Indian Army, passports, a cellular phone, a driving license issued from Lucknow District, a Income Tax Permanent Account Number (PAN) card and a handwritten coding chart, were recovered from their possession. Earlier, on April 7, the UP Police and Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested a LeT terrorist from the Ateria Railway Station in Sitapur District, while he was attempting to cross over to Nepal.
On the Left Wing Extremist front, ranking leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN (M)], Matrika Prasad Yadav and Suresh Bahadur Ale Magar, were arrested in Lucknow and subsequently handed over to Nepalese immigration authorities of the far-western region on February 8, 2004. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs in its 2006 Annual Report disclosed that 180 CPN-M leaders and cadres had been arrested from different parts of India over the preceding five years, adding further that 140 of these had been arrested between 2001 and 2004 while 40 were arrested in 2005. The Report also noted that Nepali Maoists frequently visited the Indian States of Bihar and UP for medical treatment.
On November 4, 2006, the Union Minister of State for Home, Sriprakash Jaiswal, stated in Gorakhpur that Pakistani militants were using Nepal as a hideout and base for sneaking into India. Pakistani terrorists, he noted, have "found a safe hideout in Nepal and it is a safe passage for coming to India." According to a paper prepared by the Union Home Ministry on the internal security situation, the Pakistan-based LeT and JeM were using territory and elements in Bangladesh and Nepal for movement of terrorists and finances to India. Further, Army Chief General J.J. Singh said on December 27, 2006, "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."
These various factors underline the significant and rising threat of subversive forces in UP, emanating from both within the State and outside the country. It is useful to note that such subversion occurs in a milieu of a broad retreat of Governance, marked by high levels of the breakdown in law and order in the State. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, UP reported the highest incidence of violent crimes in 2005, accounting for 12.5 percent of total violent crimes in the country (25,352 out of 2,02,640). UP also reported 17.5 per cent (5,711 out of 32,719) of total Murder cases in the country, and 20.1 percent (5,637 out of 28,031) total Attempt to Murder cases.
With elections due in the summer of 2007, and a continuous exacerbation of political rhetoric on the issue of law and order, security and subversion, on the one hand, and efforts at the mobilization of narrow caste and communal ‘vote banks’, this communally sensitive, largest and most populous Indian State can only face more troubling times ahead.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
January 1-7, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
63 persons killed in terrorist attacks by ULFA in Assam: At least 63 persons were killed and over 40 injured in a spate of violence by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants targeting the Hindi-speaking population since January 5, 2007, in the four Districts of Sibsagar, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Dhemaji. On January 5, heavily armed ULFA militants attacked two brick kilns, fired indiscriminately on shops and business centres, besides triggering an explosion near a tea garden killing 19 persons and injuring 25 others in separate locations in the eastern Districts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. By January 7, fatalities went up to 48 with the police recovering more bodies. On January 7, suspected ULFA militants shot dead a block-level Congress party leader, Ajit Deori, in his residence at Bordumsa in the Tinsukia District. On the same day, ULFA militants killed 15 Hindi-speaking people in the Sibsagar and Dibrugarh Districts. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters in Guwahati on January 6 that a red alert was sounded all over the State following the killings. All Districts were instructed to take security measures to thwart similar attacks, which were the handiwork of ULFA to create panic and terror, Gogoi said. On January 7, Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal reviewed the situation at a meeting in Guwahati with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and senior security and Army officials. He stated that there would be "no discussion on sovereignty" as demanded by the ULFA. The Hindu, The Shillong Times, Times of India and Assam Tribune, January 6-8, 2007.
‘Human pipeline’ of terror linked to Pakistan, indicates report: There is a "human pipeline" that arranges for alienated British Muslim youth – many of them of Pakistani heritage born in the UK – to travel to Pakistan for indoctrination and training at temporary terrorist "camps", believed to be operated by the al Qaeda leaders, according to a report in the current issue of Newsweek. The report quoted US authorities as saying that the UK-Pakistan pipeline had played a role in several planned terrorist plots. A U.S. intelligence official said that agencies on both sides of the Atlantic had information linking a 26-year-old London man, Muhammed Al-Ghabra, as a major organiser for the al Qaeda and other terror groups, to some of the well-known plots. Daily Times, January 7, 2007.
Selective fencing and mining of Afghan border will be carried out, says Prime Minister: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz stated that Pakistan will continue to respect the "easement rights" clause of the Durand Line agreement of 1893 which allows cross-border social and commercial interaction for the tribes in the border area, but it will fence and mine the border despite Afghanistan’s opposition. He told a press briefing on January 3, 2007, that the fencing and mining would be carried out "selectively" on Pakistan’s side of the border, and not "across the entire border". Aziz informed that fencing and mining would take place only on points along the Durand Line, which are frequently used by militants on both sides of the border, adding, "This will help us discourage those elements effectively." Daily Times, January 4, 2007.
16 persons killed in bomb explosion aboard a bus in Galle District: least 16 persons were killed and 40 others wounded on January 6, 2007, as a second explosion occurred in a bus in a span of less than 24 hours in the Galle District, over 80 kilometres from the national capital, Colombo. A Government statement disclosed that a passenger bus proceeding from Colombo to Matara was struck by a powerful bomb at 2.35 pm. On January 5, in a similar explosion aboard a passenger bus on the Colombo-Kandy Highway, at least six persons were killed and 40 others injured. The Government blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for both explosions and said the outfit is attempting to divert attention from the continuous defeats its has suffered at the hands of the security forces during the recent past. However, the LTTE defence spokesperson Ilanthirayan termed the charge a ‘baseless allegation’ and said it was aimed at discrediting the LTTE. The Hindu, January 7, 2007.
LTTE face severe recruitment problem to fill their numbers as 'fighters': The Media Centre for National Security, in a release on January 4, 2006, stated that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) faces a severe recruitment problem to fill its numbers as 'fighters' due to heavy losses sustained in Mavil Aru, Muhamalai, Thoppur, Sampur, Muttur Jetty and Vakarai. The breakaway faction of the outfit led by its former ‘Eastern Commander’ ‘Colonel’ Karuna reportedly creates the major hurdle in the outfit’s recruitment. The Eastern Province, a former resource pool to fill the vacancies for the LTTE’s dead and wounded, is now closed. Since December 1, 2005 until December 28, 2006, the LTTE reportedly lost 2,108 cadres and an even larger number were injured. Those killed are estimated, to be over 25 per cent of the LTTE’s total strength, and the proportion would be much higher if the injured are included. The dead and wounded include 'senior fighters', intelligence cadres and area leaders who are hard to replace, the report indicated. After the cease-fire agreement signed in February 2002, available records indicate that 549 LTTE cadres surrendered until January 2, 2007. Media Centre for National Security, January 5, 2007.