SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
On December 10, 2007, while addressing a programme organised by the Nepal Human Rights Commission in Lalitpur, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala observed that he envisioned a Nepali society that embraces everyone, from the common man to the King, making it amply clear that his party would seek to retain some space within the system for Nepal’s monarchy. Koirala remarked that, "We have, to date, advocated a republican setup with a federal system of governance, but we are yet to discuss what form of republic and federal structure we want, that would be suitable for our country." The Prime Minister’s stance was echoed more vocally by his daughter and a Nepali Congress (NC) Central Committee member, Sujata Koirala, who stated that, "In any case, our party favours the institution of monarchy to continue, as most of the Central Committee members support the cause of the constitutional monarchy." She added, further, "An individual can do wrong but the institution as such can’t be penalized… King Gyanendra and his coterie might be bad but the institution of monarchy cannot be penalized only because of their past fault… I have always favoured a constitutional monarchical framework." These statements have complicated the already fragile political and security situation of the country.
The Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (CPN-Maoist), on its part, warned that Koirala had till December 15 to sack the King or be sacked himself. Maoist Chairman Prachanda warned at a public meeting on December 8 that if the NC failed to sack the King within a week, the Government would be ‘reshuffled’. Negotiations, however, continue, and the Maoists are still to act on their threat at the time of writing.
Throughout the year 2007, persisting political volatility as well as insurgent activity continued to augment Nepal’s instability. Though the number of insurgency-related fatalities has remained low, subversive activity of the CPN-Maoist continued to grow unchecked across the country. According to the Institute for conflict Management database, 95 persons have been killed this year (provisional data till December 13), including 55 civilians and 40 Maoists, against a total of 480 fatalities in 2006, which included, 61 civilians, 181 security force (SF) personnel and 238 insurgents. According to the Kathmandu-based Informal Sector Education Centre (INSEC), 20 people were killed by the SFs and 22 persons were killed by the Maoist youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL) ever since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) came into effect in November 2006. An INSEC report disclosed that 772 people were abducted by the YCL over this period, adding that the Maoists were continuing with their illegal activities and violating the rights of the general people. It is, nevertheless, the case that the number of fatalities has declined dramatically since the Cease-fire Code of Conduct was signed between the Government of Nepal and CPN-Maoist on May 25, 2006.
Fatalities in Nepal, 2005-2007
* Data till December 14, 2007
Source: Institute for Conflict Management
As the CPN-Maoist came over-ground to join the mainstream political process after its agreements with the Government, it revived its militant youth wing, the YCL in November 2006. The YCL, which was formed by the CPN–Maoist at some point (there is no definite information on the year of its creation) during the ‘people’s war’ as an affiliate to provide support and energy to the ‘revolution’, is presently involved in activities including intimidation, extortion, looting, abduction attacks on members and cadres of other political parties. The YCL has reportedly received extensive training in unarmed combat and cadres openly carry knives, sticks, iron bars and other improvised weapons and have paraded themselves around the countryside and the Kathmandu region without fear or restriction since the CPA. Reports indicate that the YCL "is a group of highly trained commandos of the Maoists who, instead of being sent to the cantonments, have been deliberately kept in the open by the party high command to meet exigencies." It is also believed that the reactivation of the YCL and the appointment of top Maoist commanders as its leaders at a time when the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) is conducting the verification of arms and armies of the Maoists is evidently a part of the grand strategy to keep Maoist cadres outside the scope of UNMIN scrutiny and to use their energies to dominate the CA elections.
The UNMIN has been monitoring the verification of the arms and armies of the Maoists in each and every cantonment of the PLA. This has certainly troubled and angered the Maoists, as the UNMIN found large numbers of child soldiers in the Maoists ‘Army’. As the UNMIN term is due to end on January 23, 2008, the Government decided to extend its term by six months. At this point, however, the Maoists have raised question marks on the UNMIN’s role. Senior Maoist leader Ram Bahadur Thapa a.k.a. Badal alleged that UNMIN was going beyond its mandate and behaving like activists and journalists. Badal also accused the UNMIN of being involved in the process of dissolving the PLA, instead of working for the merger of two armies of Nepal.
While the YCL continues with its intimidation across the country, other pro-Maoist groups have also pitched in. The Buddhist ethnic group, Nepal Rashtriya Tamang Mukti Morcha (Tamang National Liberation Front), is pressurizing the Government by demanding autonomy and a republic. They have organised strikes and shut downs in the Kathmandu, Makawanpur, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk, Makawanpur, Dhading, Nuwakot and Rasuwa Districts. Similarly, another Maoist-affiliated organisation, the Samyukta Ganatantrik Dalit Mukti Morcha (United Democratic Dalit Liberation Front), comprising members of the dalit (lower caste Hindus) community, is demanding proportional representation for dalits in the impending election, and a republic.
Earlier, on January 15, 2007, all Members of the Interim Parliament, including 83 Maoist representatives, were sworn in, marking the commencement of a new phase in Nepal’s politics. While in Parliament, however, the Maoists used various pressure tactics on the Government to weaken and subdue other parties in the Alliance. Finally, they quit the Interim Government on September 18, stating that their twin demands – a proportional representation system to be adopted for the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections and the declaration of the country as a Republic by the Interim Parliament before the CA elections – were non-negotiable. The Maoists quit the Government as no consensus could emerge on their demands even after repeated rounds of talks. On October 21, Prime Minister G. P. Koirala said that the Nepali Congress is ready for a ‘commitment proposal’ to announce a republic after the Constituent Assembly election, but is opposed to a fully proportional representation system as demanded by the Maoists. Koirala also stated that the Maoist proposal to adopt a fully proportional representation system would not be accepted by the Nepali Congress under any circumstances.
The much-hyped CA polls, which were originally scheduled for June 2007, and then rescheduled for November 22, were deferred indefinitely after the Eight Party Alliance [the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) plus the Maoists] failed to reach any consensus over the two key Maoist demands. Strongly opposed by the NC, which is the largest party in the Interim Parliament, the Maoists called for a special session of Parliament. After prolonged deliberations, the House, through a majority voice vote, passed the amendment proposal of the Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) which directed the Government to immediately determine all necessary procedures to proclaim the country a republic and to take concrete steps in this regard. The Interim Parliament also decided to adopt a fully proportional representation system for the CA polls. The parliamentary voting clearly demonstrated a unity of the Left parties, with the CPN-UML and the Maoists supporting each others’ proposals. Under this arrangement, the Maoists withdrew their motion for immediate declaration of a republic and supported the CPN-UML's proposal for a ‘federal republic’. In return, the CPN-UML supported the Maoists proposal of a fully proportional electoral system. However, these motions cannot be implemented without amending the Interim Constitution by a two-third majority of the House, which remains impossible without the NC’s support. However, as the proposals have been approved by the Interim Parliament by a majority voice vote, Koirala faces a measure of moral pressure to act quickly on these issues, despite his party’s strong line against the proposals.
But without any significant initiative in this direction by the Koirala Government, Prachanda issued a ‘48-hour ultimatum’ on December 13, stating that the Maoists would start a ‘new movement’ from December 16 and seek to reshuffle the cabinet if their demand of abolition of the monarchy was not met. He also repeated his stand that his party would rejoin the Interim Government only on condition that his party was given the position of Senior Deputy Prime minister and that the Home, Defence and Finance Ministries be shared among the three major parties.
The emergence of armed groups in the volatile Terai region has multiplied the woes of the embattled Government, with sporadic violence and armed activity continuing throughout the year. Killings, abductions, violence, and disruptive political demonstrations and strikes continue in the region without any sign of relief for its beleaguered people. Currently, there are approximately 20 armed groups operating in the Terai with diverse agendas. The most prominent among these are: the Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (MJF, also known as Madheshi Peoples’ Rights Forum) and the two factions of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM, Democratic Terai Liberation Front) led by Jaya Krishna Goit (JTMM-G) and Nagendra Kumar Paswan a.k.a. Jwala Singh (JTMM-J), respectively. With well-trained armed militias, these groups are currently orchestrating unrest in the region, engaging in killings, abduction, looting and extortion. Other active entities include the JTMM – Bisfot Singh faction, Madheshi Rashtriya Mukti Morcha (Madheshi National Liberation Front), Madheshi Mukti (Liberation) Tigers, Terai Cobra, Terai Baagi (Rebels), Terai Army, Madheshi Virus Killers Party and the Royal Defence Army.
On December 4, 2007, the breakaway faction of the Nepal Sadbhawana Party (NSP) led by Rajendra Mahato unveiled its militant youth wing called Madhesh Raksha Bahini (Madhesh Security Brigade) at Birgunj in the Parsa District. The party’s district secretary, Shiva Patel, said the cadres were trained in self-defence tactics such as using lathis (batons), judo and karate and claimed that there were 23,000 such members across the country. On December 7, four parties of in the Terai region, MJF led by Bhagyanath Gupta, Dalit Janajati Party, Madhesi Loktantrik Morcha (Madheshi Democratic Party) and Loktantrik Madheshi Morcha (Democratic Madheshi Party), came together to float the Broader Madheshi National Front (BMNF). In a joint statement they said that they all believe in the liberation of the Madheshi people through a federal democratic republic, proportional representation and autonomous Madhesh region equipped with the right to self determination.
Though these groups are present across the Terai region, major incidents have been reported mainly from eight of the region’s 20 Districts – Siraha, Dhanusha, Morang, Sarlahi, Bara, Saptari, Mohattari, and Rautahat. These incidents include the killing and abduction of civilians, Government employees and also Maoists, the last of which are regarded as the foremost enemies of the Madheshi movement and people. According to an INSEC report, 33 persons were killed by the MJF, JTMM-G killed 18 persons, JTMM-J killed 27 persons and eight others were killed by other agitating groups in the Terai since November 2006. The report also claimed that the armed groups seized properties of more than 279 people in the Terai region.
Gradually, however, the Terai movement is becoming more political in orientation, with more and more leaders across party lines coming to support common issues. On December 10, senior Nepali Congress leader and Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Mahantha Thakur, along with Hridayesh Tripathi of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi), Mahendra Prasad Yadav of the CPN-UML and Ram Chandra Raya of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, tendered their resignations from Parliament. Other Madheshi leaders quit their respective parties, including Sarbendra Nath Sukla of the Rastriya Janatantrik Party, Anish Ansari, Ram Chandra Kushbaha and Brishesh Chandra Lal of the NC and Shri Krishna Yadav, chairman of the Madhesi Rastriya Manch, which is affiliated to the CPN-UML.
Discontented with the Government, many marginalized groups and ethnicities are demanding their wider spaces in governance, bringing the Government under intense pressure from various indigenous communities. Their major demands include a federal restructuring of the state based on ethnic lines, the ‘right to self determination’ and a proportional representation-based electoral system. All the major groups representing the indigenous communities have united for a common struggle on these demands. Groups like the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities Students, Indigenous Nationalities Joint Struggle Committee, National Indigenous Nationalities Women’s Federation and Nepal Indigenous Nationalities Youth Association have joined hands to pressurise the Government, resorting to strikes and agitations across the country. They have also engaged in occasional violence, including the destruction of public property during demonstrations. The leader of the Government talks’ team, Ram Chandra Poudel, expressed the Government’s inability to entertain all such demands by ethnic groups, stating: "There are over 100 ethnic groups in the country and if all of them are to be represented, the Constituent Assembly will be more of an ethnic assembly and less of a political assembly."
Similarly, the two other agitating ethnic groups, the Limbuwans and Khumbuwans, have been organising strikes in the eastern Districts, demanding an autonomous federal state based on ethnicity. Their avowed goal is the creation of autonomous regions along the boundaries of the traditional areas of their ethnic groups. They have resorted to sporadic violence and organized strikes in many Districts where these communities are in a majority. The Sanghiya Limbuwan Rajyaparisad [Federal Limbuwan State Council (FLSC)] has demanded that nine Districts lying east of the Arun River – Panchthar, Taplejung, Terhathum, Sankhusabha, Ilam, Jhapa, Dhankuta, Sunsari and Morang – be declared the Limbuwan State. Similarly, the Khumbuwan Rastriya Morcha (Khumbuwan National Front) is demanding a ‘Khumbuwan State’ comprising seven Districts – Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Udayapur, Bhojpur, Khotang, Siraha and Saptari. In response to a talks offer by the Government on August 9, both these outfits have decided to suspend their agitation and have also formed negotiating teams to hold a dialogue.
Meanwhile, on December 4, the Limbuwan State Council claimed that it had given ‘military training’ to 6,000 cadres. According to reports, the organisation has provided a basic one month training in the jungles in the eastern hilly Districts. The Jhapa District secretary of the Council, Dhanraj Subba, said they were preparing to give another phase of training soon. Cadres aged between 18 and 40 years have been trained in weapons’ use, and other guerrilla tactics.
Chure Bhawar Ekta Samaj–Nepal (CBES-N, Chure Bhawar Unity Society) is another group which has been demanding security and protection of the rights of the people of hill origin living in the Terai region, seeking autonomous status for the Chure-Bhawar region. This group is a direct response to the activities of the Terai armed groups and represents the interests of the Tamang, Magar and some other hill-ethnic groups. They demand that the Government ban the Terai armed groups that are killing pahades in the Terai, and declare as martyrs the CBES-N cadres who are killed.
Similarly, the dalits are calling for the fulfillment of their demands, which includes 20 percent reservation for people from their community in the Constituent Assembly, scholarships and free education for dalit students. An association of dalit women – Dalit Women for Ensuring Proportional Participation of Dalit Women in Constituent Assembly and New State Structure – issued a 15-point charter of Nepali Dalit Women in Building New Nepal-2007 on November 30 and, among other things, called for securing 13 per cent seats for Dalit women in the Constituent Assembly election, providing 20 per cent reservation to Dalit women in every level of the state in the overall women’s reservation and 50 per cent in reservations made for Dalit community, and ensuring proportional representation in the political parties from the decision-making level down to the grassroots level. The President of the Association, Durga Sob, warned that the Dalit women would launch a strong movement if the state did not take their demands seriously.
There has been little significant change in terms of patterns of governance, with the interim Government constantly under threat from the Maoists and pressurised by other groups. With the Government simply unable to put its house in order, civil administration has been seriously undermined as the Maoists frequently attacked and closed the offices of the District Development Committees and also attacked the restored Police posts throughout the country (the posts had been closed down during the peoples’ war phase). Similarly, there were reports of the Maoists running their own kangaroo courts to ‘resolve’ civil disputes, undermining the country’s judicial system. The weakness of the state in this regard peaked when armed groups in the Terai region attacked the Village Development Committee (VDC) secretaries drawn from the hill region. VDC secretaries across the Terai resigned en masse in protest against the inability of the Government to provide security. In response, the Government has now deployed some Special Task Forces in Terai Districts.
According to Dharma Adhikari, a senior journalist, the Government's efforts in "addressing new grievances, curbing violence and listening to new voices of dissent can, at best, be described as haphazard and ill-equipped. Dialogue with the new rebels is hindered by the fact that these groups don't have a clear leadership or a common political agenda, just like in the national political scene."
In retrospect, the peace process is hinged on several complex realities and most of which are not amenable to solution. Nepal is going through a period of unstable transition. Many issues remain unresolved among the major parties since the postponement of the CA elections. Many groups want their space in the new arrangement and are exerting pressure on the Government and have not hesitated to even resort to violence to push their demands. While the Maoists will not engage in a good-faith process to ensure long-term peace, the Government remains unable to contain or tackle the insurgents, and fears that the rebels may revert to the insurgency at any stage. Nepal is clearly on the edge.
The ceasefire-driven ‘normalcy’ continues to have an extraordinary meaning in Nagaland. Despite two of the principal insurgent groups entering into separate cease-fire agreements with the Union Government in New Delhi, at least 108 deaths (provisional data till December 13) have been reported in 2007, positioning Nagaland in the third place in the vortex of violence in the States of India’s Northeast, behind Assam and Manipur. With about a fortnight to go before the end of the year, fatalities in 2007 might fall marginally below the 147 fatalities in 2006, but this represents little improvement in the circumstances in Nagaland, where the insurgents continue to exert a vice-like grip over every walk of life.Militancy-related fatalities in Nagaland: 2006-2007
* Data till December 13, 2007
Source: 2006: Union Ministry of Home Affairs, 2007: Institute for Conflict Management
As repeatedly emphasized in SAIR, internecine clashes between the National Socialist Council of Nagaland–Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and its rival Khaplang faction (NSCN-K) – with the state’s security forces (SFs) reluctant to intercede to impose order – remains the most significant obstacle to establishing peace in the State. The year 2007 witnessed little change with militants comprising a staggering 81 per cent of the 108 militancy-related deaths in 2007. Further, of the 88 militants killed, almost 80 per cent died in the fratricidal conflict between the two factions of the NSCN. Such clashes also led to a ‘collateral’ 12 civilian casualties. Factional clashes thus accounted for 76 per cent (82 out of 108) of the annual fatalities. Providing figures on the impact of the continuing clashes between the two outfits on March 25, 2007, the State Home Minister Thenucho disclosed in the Legislative Assembly that 270 lives [101 NSCN-IM, 110 NSCN-K, 25 Naga National Council (NNC) and the remaining civilians] had been lost in a total of 378 factional clashes in Nagaland, and 159 persons had been injured, between March 2003 and March 19, 2007.
The Institute for Conflict Management’s Provisional data for the year 2007 indicates that at least 58 internecine clashes occurred (till December 12) in 10 of Nagaland’s 11 Districts. Each of these little battles of attrition has been rooted in a continuing struggle for area dominance. The fight for dominance in Mon District entered into a complex phase with the November 11 attack by NSCN-IM cadres on the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants transiting through the Tizit town, from their bases in Myanmar, to Assam. Two ULFA cadres and one NSCN-IM cadre were killed, three others injured and two ULFA cadres were taken into ‘custody’ by the Naga group. Mon being the northern-most District of Nagaland, positioned at the tri-junction between Myanmar, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, had been a traditional stronghold of the NSCN-K, which has long provided safe passage to the ULFA cadres. Recent NSCN-IM incursions have led to a diminution of the NSCN-K dominance over the District and this ongoing struggle for control is believed to be principally responsible for the attack on the NSCN-K’s ally, ULFA. Similarly, on November 24, the Governor of Goa, S. C. Jamir – a former Chief Minister of Nagaland – survived an assassination attempt when his 30-vehicle convoy was attacked by NSCN-IM militants with improvised explosive device (IED) blasts near Changki in the Mokokchung District. Two security force personnel were injured in the attack, which was the fourth attempt on Jamir’s life. The attack represents an incursion by the NSCN-IM into the Khaplang stronghold. The NSCN-IM, however, denied its involvement and alleged that the attack was ‘stage-managed’.
The war of attrition is spread across almost the entire State, with little concern for compliance with the cease-fire ground rules, which stipulate that the militants stay in designated camps, ban their movement in uniform and with arms and prohibit extortion. Both the factions were allotted seven camps each, but NSCN-K cadres had reportedly been driven out by the rival group from their seven designated camps by mid-June 2007. While the Union Government directed and set the deadline of June 30, 2007, for the two factions to return to their designated camps, the NSCN-K truce supervisor and ‘senior minister’, Kughalu Mulatonu, said that they would not adhere to the directive of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA): "Under no circumstances will the NSCN enter the designated camps on the dictates of either the Assam Rifles or Nagaland State (Government)." Further, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) R.V. Kulkarni, the Chairman of both the Cease-fire Monitoring Group and Cease-fire Supervisory Board, had set September 25-morning as another deadline for both the factions to vacate the capital, Kohima, and its surrounding areas. The vacation order was issued following the reported concentration of armed cadres of two the groups in and around Kohima on a massive scale.
Militants, however, continue to move unhindered in the townships and country-side, enforcing their groups’ diktats across Nagaland. Intelligence reports indicate that the cadre strength of the NSCN-IM has increased from 800 to about 2,500 since the July 1997 cease-fire announcement. The outfit’s well-oiled ‘finance department’ engages in wide-spread ‘tax-collection’ activities and its ‘home department’ virtually runs the State administration. Its ‘crime suppression department’ ensures control of its areas of dominance, administering a selective ‘justice’ over various ‘offences’. The torching of human habitations continues to be part of the NSCN-IM’s area domination exercise. The Zeliangrong Hoho, the apex organisation of the Zeliangrong Naga tribe, did pass a resolution, during a meeting at Jalukie town on September 10, 2007, not to pay ‘taxes’ to the NSCN-IM militants in protest against the August 28 torching of at least 30 houses of the tribesmen by the outfit at Jalukie Zangdi village in the Peren District. The NSCN-IM justified its act by saying that the Zeliangrongs had encroached upon the land of the Kacharis, another Naga tribe. The Zeliangrong tribe, however, stated that there was no land belonging to Kacharis in the area.
The overriding dominance of the Naga militants has not been challenged either by any significant Police action, nor the Army or Central Para-military Forces, which are bound by the ceasefire rules to carry out any necessary counter-insurgency operations to suppress the activities of the militant groups and implement the ceasefire rules. The State Government has been reduced to a mere witness to the enveloping scenario. In a bizarre move, on December 1, 2007, Chief Minister Neiphu Rio asked the Union Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukharjee to prevail upon Myanmar to declare a cease-fire with the NSCN-K instead of trying to drive the rebels out of Myanmar soil. The Chief Minister cited ‘political’ as well as ‘economic’ reasons for suggesting such a ‘bold’ measure, despite the reported findings that the NSCN-K has been sharing camps with many militant groups, including the ULFA and the Manipur-based United National Liberation Front (UNLF), in the Sagaing Division in Myanmar.
Three rounds of peace talks with the NSCN-IM were held in 2007. However, issues like the unification of the Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh remained a stumbling block and no progress has been achieved. In the July 31 dialogue round, however, New Delhi and the NSCN-IM decided to do away with the requirement of a periodic extension of the cease-fire, agreeing on an ‘indefinite’ extension. At the other end, talks with the NSCN-K, under the cease-fire agreement since May 28, 2001, have remained a non-starter. The Khaplang faction principally remains opposed to any negotiations between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM. The existing cease-fire agreement with the Khaplang group was, nevertheless, extended for another year on April 26, 2007.
Initiatives to engage the Naga community-based groups in the negotiation process, coming from certain non-State quarters, have also followed a similar trajectory, leading nowhere. An across the State cease-fire among all the Naga outfits was declared to secure ‘peace without any pre-conditions’ at a meeting, organised by the Gaon Buras’ (village chiefs) Federation of Nagaland and Dobashis (communicators between various tribes) Association of Nagaland. The Naga Hoho (the apex council of the Naga tribes), Nagaland Baptist Churches Council (NBCC) and others participated in the meeting at Dimapur on July 24, 2007. While five NSCN-IM representatives took part in the meeting, the rival NSCN-K and NNC did not attend the meeting. A day after the cease-fire move, a group of 40-60 cadres of the NSCN-K and Federal Government of Nagaland (FGN) attacked rival NSCN-IM militants at Phek town. Expressing the NSCN-K’s uncertainty about the credibility of resolutions adopted in Dimapur, its senior leader, A.Z. Jami, stated that they did not accept the proposals of the civil society groups as they produced a different draft before it and not the one adopted on July 24. Eventually, on November 7, the General Secretary of the NBCC, Rev. Zhabu Terhuja, held the two NSCN factions responsible for bringing "chaos and destruction" to Nagaland.
To tide over the factional clashes and establish unity among the militant groups is considered, in certain quarters, a key to bringing peace. For instance, an inter-factional ‘truce agreement’ was signed by ‘Kilonser’ (Cabinet Minister) C. Singson of the NSCN-K and ‘Kilo-Kilonser’ (Home Minister) Azheto Chophy of the NSCN-IM at Hovishe under the Niuland Sub-division in the Dimapur District on November 23, 2007. Armed cadres of both sides, including ‘kilonsers’ and ‘tatars’ (Members of Parliament), reportedly converged at the meeting chaired by Hokiye, President of the Western Sumi Hoho, who declared that the Hoho will cease to support any party which does not abide by the joint declaration. On the same night, well-placed sources from the IM faction informed Newmai News Network in Dimapur that the joint declaration was drafted without the knowledge of the group’s ‘higher authority’, thus bringing an end to the much touted ‘unification move’.
The peace process in Nagaland has been reduced to a façade for the fratricidal struggle for dominance between the two warring militant groups, with IM gaining an edge over the Khaplang faction. The Centre, the State Government and, consequently, the SFs, have demonstrated little inclination or will to step in to impose the ceasefire ‘ground rules’, and there is increasing evidence that they exercise little control over the trajectory of the conflict and the contours of a solution to the intractable insurgency in Nagaland.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
December 10-16, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
Seven persons killed and 25 injured in landmine explosion in Manipur: At least seven persons, including five women, were killed and 25 injured on December 16-evening when a passenger bus struck a landmine near Pourabi, 13 km from Imphal, capital of Manipur. No militant group has as yet claimed responsibility for the attack. According to a few eyewitnesses, a military convoy was travelling on the same route at the time, and it is possible that the landmine was intended to target the convoy. Hindustan Times; Kangla Online, December 17, 2007.
105 Maoists escape from jail in Chhattisgarh: At least 105 Maoist prisoners escaped after a shootout in the Dantewada District Jail on December 16-afternoon. A prisoner and a prison guard were killed and five persons were wounded in a shootout. There were 377 convicts in the jail when the breakout occurred. The escape was reportedly triggered by a Maoist commander named Sujit, who overpowered a guard, snatched his rifle and flung open the doors of other cells, leading to a mass exodus. The Dantewada District Jail is situated 8-9 km away from the town, and is at a secluded spot. There were just four guards on duty (instead of the usual 16) when the incident occurred. The Maoists snatched one INSAS weapon, two .303 rifles and three muskets from the guards and one wireless set before they fled, Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam disclosed. Asian Age, December 17, 2007.
President Pervez Musharraf revokes emergency: President Pervez Musharraf lifted emergency rule in Pakistan on December 15, 2007, exactly six weeks after imposing it. Stressing that this was the first time in the country’s history that emergency was being lifted in a mere 42 days, he said the situation had improved so much that restoring the Constitution was not a difficult decision. Simultaneously, he revoked the November 3, Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and restored the Constitution, but with all the amendments he made during this period. Immediately after passing the emergency revocation order, Musharraf administered the constitutional oath of office to Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, previously sworn in under the PCO after the imposition of emergency. Other judges of the Supreme Court, who were also sworn in under the PCO, also took the constitutional oath of office. The Hindu, December 16, 2007.
Five persons killed in suicide blast in NWFP: A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden bicycle into a military check-post, killing five persons and injuring 11 others in Nowshera in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on December 15, 2007. The District Police Officer Mubarak Zeb disclosed that six people, including the suicide bomber, were killed as he detonated himself at the entrance of the Army Supply Corps centre. Daily Times, December 16, 2007.
Baitullah Mehsud to head Taliban Movement of Pakistan:Taliban militants from tribal areas and some districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) on December 14, 2007, decided to set up a centralised organisation for a joint war against the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and appointed Baitullah Mehsud as their Central Amir (chief), said a spokesman for the militant commander. The militants have named their movement as Tehrik Taliban-i-Pakistan and said the aim of the movement was to enforce Sharia (Islamic law) in their respective areas. The decision was taken at a meeting of 40 Taliban leaders, held in an undisclosed place in South Waziristan. "The sole objective of the Shura meeting was to unite the Taliban against NATO forces in Afghanistan and to wage a ‘defensive jihad’ against Pakistani forces here," Baitullah’s spokesman Maulana Omar said. He claimed that Pakistani forces were bombing seminaries and killing people and the Taliban wanted to avenge the forces’ action.
The meeting asked the Government to call off the military operation in Swat and North Waziristan and abolish all military checkpoints within 10 days. Otherwise, it warned, a suitable course of action would be chalked out in the next meeting of the militants. Taliban leaders from seven tribal agencies, six Frontier Regions of FATA and the NWFP districts of Swat, Kohistan, Buner, Dir, Malakand, Kulachi, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan attended the meeting. They demanded release of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and other Taliban jailed across the country. The meeting also formed a 40-member consultative committee (Shura) to be headed by Baitullah Mehsud. Maulana Umar has been chosen as spokesman for the committee. Dawn, December 15, 2007.
Seven people killed in twin suicide attacks in Quetta: Two suicide bombings near an Army check-post in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, on December 13, 2007, killed seven people, including three personnel of the Pakistan Army. An official at the Inter-Services Public Relations said three of the dead were soldiers, while the remaining four were civilians. Official sources said that a young, bearded man approached the military checkpoint at the Hana Road and when soldiers tried to stop him, he blew himself up at about 5pm. As the troops were busy in the rescue operation and stopping people from getting close to the scene of the first bombing, a second suicide bomber detonated his explosives. No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts so far. Dawn; Daily Times, December 14, 2007.
LTTE chief injured in air attack: The LTTE chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was wounded in an air strike on November 28, 2007 by security forces shortly after his annual policy broadcast, The Nation reported on December 16. The report stated that Prabhakaran was wounded in an underground bunker in the northern District of Kilinochchi. "A section of the bunker had crumbled and some falling debris had struck the LTTE leader," the newspaper said, quoting sources in the LTTE-held territory. The paper added that Prabhakaran, who delivered his annual policy statement a day earlier, was treated at an underground medical unit and recovered fully from "minor" injuries. There has been no reaction so far to the report either from the LTTE or Sri Lankan defence authorities. AFP, December 10, 2007.