SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Black Widow in Disarray
With the neutralisation of three top leaders of the Black Widow (BW) on June 4, the upsurge in militant violence in the North Cachar Hills (NC Hills) District in Southern Assam can be expected to diminish, though the long-term success of this critical breakthrough will depend on the capacity of the Security Forces (SFs) to act swiftly against the remaining leadership of the group.
Assam Director General of Police (DGP) G.M. Srivastava disclosed, on June 6, that the Nepal-based BW chief Mihir Barman alias Jewel Garlossa was living in a rented accommodation in the southern Indian megacity of Bangalore, after his arrival from Nepal in February-March 2009. Garlossa, who already has a Nepalese passport in the name of Bir Bahadur Chetri, was trying to get a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card in the name of Debujith Sinha for the purpose of getting an Indian passport. Garlossa had already obtained a driving licence in Bangalore with a fake name.
Acting on the inputs provided by central intelligence agencies, a Police team headed by Assam Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG-Central Western Range) G.P. Singh was dispatched to Bangalore. Singh’s team camped in the city almost for a week, looking for Garlossa. On June 4, in an early morning joint raid with Bangalore Police, Garlossa was arrested from a posh gym in the Arekere area along Bannerghata Road in the southern part of this city. Subsequently the same team arrested Garlossa’s associate Partha Warisa alias Ashringdaw Warisa, and Samir Ahmed, an employee of a private bank in Bangalore. Samir, who hails from Assam’s Dibrugarh District is a classmate of Partha Warisa and had arranged for the rented accommodation and the driving licence for Jewel Garlossa. A fake identity card, a laptop, bank documents and an internet data card were recovered from the arrested persons. All three have since been brought to Assam and are currently being interrogated.
Within hours of Garlossa’s arrest, Assam Police shot down the outfit’s ‘finance secretary’ Frankie Dimasa in an encounter in the Borbari locality of Guwahati city, adjoining State capital Dispur. While three other BW cadres managed to flee, Police recovered a foreign-made pistol from the possession of the slain militant. Frankie Dimasa had been arrested in March 2009, but had jumped bail.
DGP Srivastava disclosed further, on June 6, that the BW, which already owns two ‘properties’ in Nepal, was looking to establish a base in Bangladesh in connivance with the Ranjan Daimary faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the Bodo insurgent group in Assam, which is in a state of ceasefire with the Government of India since 2004. A week before his death in the Guwahati encounter on June 4, Frankie Dimasa had gone to Bangladesh to meet Daimary. "Frankie spoke to Ranjan Daimary for accommodation of 30 senior cadres of the BW to stay in the three-four small NDFB camps there. Other cadres were to take orders by staying in India", the DGP revealed. BW’s planned foray into Bangladesh at the present juncture, however, appears somewhat surprising, considering the new Awami League Government’s declared intentions of acting against the north-eastern militants.
Since its formation in 2004, taking maximum advantage of the hilly and forested terrain of the District (over 94 percent of the 4,890 square kilometre area of NC Hills falls under the ‘forested area’ category), the BW has grown from strength to strength. After the parent group, the Dima Halim Daogah (DHD), announced a ceasefire with the Government of India on January 1, 2004, Garlossa, then ‘commander-in-chief’ of the outfit, revolted against Chairman Dilip Nunisa’s unilateral decision to opt for truce and formed the BW or DHD – Jewel Garlossa faction. From a rag tag formation with about 50 cadres, under the leadership of 36 year old Jewel Garlossa, BW evolved into the most potent fringe armed grouping in Assam, with 150 armed cadres possessing 40 AK series rifles and an equal number of support cadres. The group has been involved in 19 killings in the first five months of 2009, including those of 11 SF personnel.
Over the years, the BW also led several campaigns against its parent grouping, the DHD, as well as against Kuki civilians in the NC Hills District and the Karbi population in the neighbouring Karbi Anglong District, and also engaged in sporadic warfare with the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), the militant formation claming to represent the Karbi tribals. BW militants have also killed or injured Hindi-speaking petty traders and labourers in the NC Hills District from time to time.
BW has also been involved in a continuing and bitter fight with Zeme Naga tribals since March 2009. The conflict, which also involved retaliation by the Naga militants, has led to the death of over 30 persons and has displaced over 1,700 people from their homes. On early June 3, a day before Jewel Garlossa was picked up from Bangalore, BW militants gunned down five persons including two children and burnt down 54 houses in Borchenam basti, a Zeme Naga inhabited village under Haflong Police Station.
In addition to these campaigns of bloodshed, two ongoing Central projects — the INR Eight billion East-West Corridor highway project, 180 kilometres of which pass through Assam, and the INR 10 billion Lumding-Silchar broad gauge railway project— and half-a-dozen small cement plants in the District, have also been the top targets of BW attack. Seven attacks on the railway services in the first five months of the current year have resulted in a complete halt to the running of trains through the District since May. Authorities fear that a prolonged disruption of the train services would create a shortage of essential commodities in the neighbouring States of Mizoram and Tripura, which receive a bulk of their supplies through this route.
BW has benefited immensely from the politician-militant nexus, a phenomenon rampant in the entire northeastern region. On May 30, the chief of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC), Mohet Hojai, belonging to the local Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) political party, was arrested on charges of passing on INR 10 million to the BW for the purchase of arms. The Assam and Meghalaya Police had recovered the cash from militants in Guwahati in March 2009, leading to the revelation of Hojai’s militant association. Hojai had gone underground, but resurfaced on May 22 to hold a Press Conference at Haflong, a sub-divisional township in the NC Hills District. Surprisingly, he was not arrested. After his arrest on May 30, Hojai is in judicial custody, along with R.H. Khan, a Joint Director in the Social Welfare Department of the Assam Government, who is believed to be the kingpin of the entire racket.
Incidentally, the recent successes have been achieved after Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram summoned the Assam DGP and Chief Secretary to New Delhi on June 1, for discussions on the security situation in the NC Hills District. Subsequently, the National Investigative Agency (NIA), the central body constituted after the November 2008 multiple terrorist attacks in Mumbai, was given its first case, investigating the nexus between the politicians and the militants in the NC Hills District. The NIA has reportedly sought permission from Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to interrogate two ministers of the State Cabinet, who allegedly had close links with both Mohet Hojai and R.H. Khan.
Significant portions of the enormous developmental funds made available to the District authorities inevitably end up in the coffers of the militant groups. Reports have indicated that at least 20 per cent of the annual funds allocated to the NCHAC, set up under Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution to run the 30 administrative departments in the District, finds its way into the coffers of six outfits operating in the District – the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), the DHD, the BW, the Dimasa National Liberation Front, the Kuki National Front (KNF) and the Hmar People’s Convention – Democracy (HPC-D). Depending on the size of the Annual Plan of the NCHAC, every year the outfits receive up to INR 1.3 to 1.6 billions. For the 2007-08 financial year, the total Annual Plan allocation for the NCHAC was INR 9.5 billion. In addition, the militants impose ‘taxes’, amounting to 10 per cent on the monthly salary of every government official, 20 per cent on earnings of businessmen and a fixed sum of INR 500 from petty traders in the District.
The Assam Police hopes that the neutralisation of the three top leaders of BW will push the group into a position of weakness. For many insurgent groups in the northeast, especially those active within limited geographical areas, lone leaders remain central to the day to day operations of the formations. Jewel Garlossa, however, appears to have done well in term of grooming a set of second-rung leaders within BW. While Garlossa mostly stationed himself outside Assam and was trying to manage the grouping’s outreach programme in Nepal and Bangladesh, the second rung leaders were in charge of the outfit’s activities in the NC Hills District.
Nevertheless, the neutralisation of the top leadership will send the BW into a temporary state of shock and disarray, and a diminution of activities over the coming months can be expected. BW’s planned foray into Bangladesh would be halted for the time being. The group is, however, far from a state of extinction; its infrastructure within the District is still intact and it continues to have a cohesive set of leaders on the ground, who are completely familiar with the day to day operations of the outfit.
Among the leaders can now be expected to assume lead roles within the BW are the following.
A senior NC Hills Police officer thus observed, "We cannot afford to rest until we neutralise the remaining leadership," adding, further, that a crucial part of the operation would also be to locate and recover the large sums of money that Garlossa was holding: "We have to make sure it doesn’t fall in the hands of those still at large."
Counter-insurgency operations in Assam have predominantly remained United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) centric, pursuing the oldest and the most dominant militant formation in the State. This has, in turn, allowed fringe formations like the BW to flourish and wreak havoc in their own areas of dominance for years. The lack of adequate SF presence gave the BW a free run all over the District. The group’s increased activities, especially, its relentless attacks on the train services in 2009, however, brought about a visible augmentation in Force presence in the NC Hills District. Over 50,000 security personnel are currently deployed in the District, including personnel from the Army, Assam Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Assam Police and the Railway Protection Force. In addition, there are over 700 Special Police Officers (SPOs) deployed to provide additional security cover to firms engaged in the railway and highway projects.
The Assam Police feels that the key to the complete neutralisation of BW would be a swift operation targeting the remnants of the group. The State Police Headquarters has reportedly asked the District Police to provide information about the group’s hideouts so that an all-out thrust could be mounted against these.
This will be no easy task. Operations against the BW would have to be a protracted effort that spans the NC Hills District as well as the neighbouring Karbi Anglong and Nagaon Districts. Forces across inter-State borders with Meghalaya and Nagaland will also have to be involved in the operation. The biggest weakness in such an endeavour will continue to be the Police in NC Hills District, which has neither the numbers nor the skill to lead an anti-BW campaign. The lack of intelligence support from the District Police would mean that the planned SF operations would simply be a show of strength by the Army and the para-military, rather than a precision campaign that dismantles BW’s infrastructure and strength. BW cadres can be expected to simply disappear underground under pressure, but once the Forces withdraw, they can once again resurface and return to their violent ways.
The Indian peninsula has got most of its vital nerve centres, including ports, oil installations, power grids, nuclear reactors, defence establishments, trading and manufacturing hubs, and a number of major urban settlements, located along, or in close proximity to, its 7,516 kilometre long coastline. The ill-protected seashore has, over the decades, made this high priority infrastructure vulnerable to maritime subversion, resulting in a wider sense of insecurity that has currently enveloped the strategic and economic underpinnings of the country.
While there have been only two major terrorist attacks (the serial bomb blasts of March 1993 and multiple terrorist attacks in November 2008, both of which in Mumbai) orchestrated principally using the sea route so far, the scale and magnitude of these two attacks have made them the worst of the country has been witness to. What adds greater concern is that both these attacks targeted the country’s commercial capital. On March 12, 1993, 13 bombs of high intensity ripped through Mumbai, killing 257 persons and injuring above 700. The RDX used in the serial explosions was smuggled in a consignment through the sea route and eventually landed at Shekhadi in the Raigad District of Maharashtra. 15 years later, on November 26, 2008, ten Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists came from the Pakistani port city of Karachi by boat, breaching three layers of security – Navy, Coast Guard and Coastal Police – and again attacked the county’s commercial capital, killing 166 civilians and 20 soldiers, and injuring 304 persons.
Even as India looks to augment its internal security apparatus, including coastal security, intelligence agencies have warned that there is ample scope for replication of another terrorist attack via the sea route, with significant perceived threat to vital installations. November 2008 intelligence intercepts of cross-border communications of the LeT revealed that Pakistan-based terrorists have now shifted focus from traditional infiltration routes through Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Nepal and Bangladesh to India’s maritime boundaries. In addition, global intelligence agencies have also been warning of terrorist attacks on India through the sea route. A declaration, in February 2007, in al-Battar, an online journal associated with Al Qaeda, issued an exhortation for maritime strikes. While there was no mention specifically of South Asia, Indian officials said there are already increasing fears of anti-India groups infiltrating into or carrying out an attack along India's extensive coastlines, especially after the reduction in militant infiltration and attacks in J&K. Beyond the Indian waters, the threat emanates across the seas in the Indian Ocean region. The maritime threat perception to oil supply remains high in the country, with intelligence agencies warning that militants could attack oil supplies to India, through pipelines beneath the sea water coming from West Asia or at Bombay High.
Since 26/11, there have been repeated intelligence warnings that terrorists may target vital installations from the sea. In February 2009, for instance, intelligence agencies had warned six State Governments against LeT strikes on power grids and hydro-electric projects across the country. In March 2009, intelligence sources again warned that the Bhakra Nangal Dam, located on the Punjab-Himachal Pradesh border, was on the radar of terrorist outfits, including that of the LeT. While the dam faces no direct threat from the sea, it is likely that the huge amounts of explosives required to blast the dam would likely be smuggled through the sea, as the land borders in the region are well fenced and amply patrolled. Consequently, security was beefed up around the vital installation.
But these threats are not new. In November 2006, the then Union Minister of Home Affairs, Shivraj Patil, had alerted security agencies that Indian nuclear power plants were highly vulnerable to attempts by terrorists to occupy some uninhabited islands and use them as bases for attacks along the coasts. Patil also said that some LeT operatives were being specifically trained for sabotage of oil installations and these militants had decided to use sea routes to infiltrate into India. Saying that his assessment was based on intelligence outputs, Patil added that the terrorists "planned to induct arms and ammunition through the sea route and installations of oil and natural gas sector, defence, communications and IT sector are equally vulnerable." He disclosed that terrorists were reportedly collecting information about the location of various refineries on or near the Indian coastline in a new strategy of widening their spheres of influence. He confirmed that the targets also included the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam and Goa Shipyard.
Addressing the issue in the Parliament, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in March 2007 that there were "reports about terrorists of various tanzeems (groups) being trained and (the) likelihood of their infiltration through sea routes". Again, addressing the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) in May 2007, the then Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal stated that Pakistan-based terrorist groups, particularly the LeT, were exploring possibilities of infiltrating their agents, arms and ammunition into India through the sea route.
A number of arrested LeT terrorists have also revealed the infiltration of militants using the sea route to target vital economic and strategic installations. On July 13, 2006, Police at Kutch in Gujarat arrested two LeT cadres, identified as Abdul Khaliq Tayyab and Abdul Gafoor Qasim Chaba, both Pakistani nationals, with INR 2.4 millions in fake Indian currency and a Global Positioning System device. The duo confessed during interrogation that their trip was part of a series of dry runs on the Karachi-Mandvi and Karachi-Jhakhau sea routes being conducted by their handlers. They also disclosed that their handlers had established a network of local fishermen who were paid INR 500,000 each time they landed a consignment on Indian shores.
The defence of the coast in India is the responsibility of the Navy and Coast Guard operating under the Ministry of Defence, but, as one commentator notes,
After 26/11 exposed such gaps in coastal security, the Union Government, on February 28, 2009, designated the Navy as the central authority responsible for the country's overall maritime security. "The Navy will be assisted by Coast Guard, state marine police and central agencies for the coastal defence of the nation," Defence Minister A. K. Antony said at Kochi, "Against the backdrop of multiple agencies involved in coastal security, and the resultant problems of coordination, the Navy has been designated as the authority responsible for maritime security." The Government has also reportedly decided to set up Joint Operation Centres at Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi and Port Blair under the charge of Naval commanders-in-chief. Antony also said a national command control communication and intelligence network, for real time maritime domain awareness between the operations rooms of Navy and Coast Guard, would be established at both the field and the apex levels.
It is not clear whether these steps will address the glaring weaknesses in the implementation mechanism of coastal security. Reports indicate that the Union Government has tried to enforce the Marine Fishing Regulation Act (MFRA) since 1993-94, allocating INR 251 million between 1995 and 2007, to procure 26 patrol boats for patrolling exclusive fishing zones in the first 12 miles of the coastline of eight States. After 15 years of the launch of the MFRA plan, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report submitted to the Union Government in October 2008, declared that the plan had been largely unfruitful.
The CAG report stated that Centre gave INR 44 million to Maharashtra for four patrol boats in 1995. Boats were constructed but not used for surveillance due to the State Government’s unwillingness to bear the costs of operation and maintenance. And in May 2006, the boats were declared un-seaworthy. Further, the Centre gave funds for two boats, at INR 5 million each, to Goa in 1998. The work order for one boat was awarded in October 2001 but no boats have been delivered so far. In the last 10 years, Andhra Pradesh acquired "Sagar Rakshak-I and II" for surveillance of its coast, spending INR 18 million. The boats were, however, not used for the intended purpose and, in February 2006, the State Government sought the Centre's permission to dispose off the boats, citing lack of funds for operation. The Centre released INR 22 million for two patrol boats to Karnataka in between 1994-95 and 1996-97, but the State refunded the money in March 2003, expressing inability to bear the operational and maintenance cost. Kerala received INR 63 million for six boats, and constructed five, but has kept the Union Government unaware of their use for the purpose of surveillance. INR 18 million was given to Orissa in three phases between 1993-94 and 2006 for construction of two boats, but the State Government expressed inability to bear the running and maintenance cost. Tamil Nadu spent INR 45 millions to construct five patrol boats, which were lying unutilised at the Chennai harbour. In 2006, three of these were declared un-seaworthy while two had earlier been destroyed in the Tsunami in 2004. West Bengal received INR 36 million for four patrol boats but, after construction, refused to deploy them for surveillance, pleading a lack of operational funds. The State also approached the Border Security Force (BSF) and Coast Guard to take the boats for their operations, a proposal that was rejected by the BSF.
The MFRA plan was followed by another coastal security scheme that was launched by the Union Government for nine coastal States (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal) and four Union Territories (Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands) in 2005-06. After three years of the scheme, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in its review in January 2008, found that only 47 out of 73 sanctioned coastal Police stations were operational. And in February 2008, another Government assessment by the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) showed that infrastructure build up had been tardy and coastal patrolling – "the core issue in the implementation of the Coastal Security Scheme" – was yet to start, due to the unavailability of boats (204 were sanctioned). According to the NSCS, an interim measure to hire boats for a temporary period could not be implemented due to the States’ unwillingness to pay for operational costs.
In 2005, the Union Government approved another coastal security scheme called Operation Swan, envisaging a three-layered security blanket through joint patrolling along the most vulnerable coasts of Maharashtra and Gujarat by the Navy, State Police and Customs Forces. The central objective was to safeguard India’s territorial waters along the nine coastal States and four Union Territories. Operation Swan envisaged a three-layered security blanket:
The MHA’s outcome budget for 2007-08 conceded that there had been a delay in implementation of the scheme. The main cause was identified as the cancellation by the Defence Ministry of the Goa Shipyard Limited’s contract for procurement of coast guard interceptor boats. "This was due to the high cost quoted by the shipyard," the MHA report noted.
While no single coastal security plan has reached its target so far, the existing coastal security forces – the Navy and Coast Guard- have failed to secure the sea shore due to the acute insufficiency of men and material. The Coast Guard faces acute deficits, with an authorised strength of just 106 vessels and 52 aircrafts. A significant proportion of these are not operational, and currently seaworthy vessels are just 92 ships, while 45 aircrafts are in use. Several crucial procurements, including hovercrafts and fast patrol boats, remain pending with the Ministry of Defence. In 2007, a Parliamentary Committee on Defence blamed the Ministry for not acquiring the requisite number of vessels over the years. Pointing out the most serious problem, a Parliamentary Panel noted that there was a gap in the surveillance capability of both the Navy and Coast Guard due to lack of aerial platforms and vital surveillance equipments, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, long range surveillance aircraft and medium range maritime Dornier aircraft.
The Coast Guard’s western region, which polices the sensitive 3,300 kilometre coastline between Gujarat and Kerala, has a fleet of just 14 ships of various sizes and eight surveillance aircraft while one report suggests that it actually needs at least 50 ships and 36 aircraft. Neither the Coast Guard nor the Navy, moreover, reportedly has the authority to stop and search merchant vessels – that is the sole prerogative of the Director-General of Shipping, a shore-based bureaucrat with no personnel or ships.
After 26/11, a series of new measures have been approved. These include: Multi Purpose National Identity Cards for all fishermen and people in coastal villages; development of special transponders for boats and trawlers by the Indian Space Research Organisation; a new uniform licensing system for boats across coastal States; an INR 68 billion plan envisaging a special 1,000-strong Sagar Prahari Bal (Sea Guarding Force) together with 80 fast boats for protection of Naval assets and other vital coastal installations. The plan also includes the establishment of a Coastal Command and a Maritime Security Advisory Board, with nine additional Coast Guard stations, static radar and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) chain all along the shoreline. AIS transponders are proposed for some 300,000 crafts below 300 tonnes at a cost of INR 1 billion. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) only prescribes transponders for vessels over 300 tonnes.
has prompted the Union and State Governments to announce
a series of policy measures intended to modernise and
improve the coastal security apparatus. Most of these
are still to be implemented. Regrettably, past experience
has shown that implementation remains tardy and inefficient,
leaving many gaps which the terrorists have exploited.
It can only be hoped that the biggest gap in India’s
security – the inefficiency of administration – will
be overcome this time around, and that a measure of
urgency will attend the implementation of current plans
for a stronger coastal security system.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
June 1-7, 2009
Black Widow ‘chief’ Jewel Garlossa arrested in Bangalore: In a joint operation with the Karnataka Police, the Assam Police arrested the ‘chairman’ and ‘chief’ of the Black Widow (BW) outfit, Jewel Garlossa, from Bangalore, capital of Karnataka, on June 4, 2009. Sources revealed that Garlossa was out of North Cachar Hills District for a long time and different security agencies were trying to track him. Central intelligence agencies managed to track him in Bangalore where he had been living for around two months. An Assam Police team headed by the Deputy Inspector General (Central Western Range) G.P. Singh raided an apartment at Arakere cross off Bannerghatta Road in Bangalore on June 3 and arrested Jewel, Partha Warisa and Samir Ahmed. Passbooks, ATM cards, mobile phones, cash and other documents have been seized from them.
Meanwhile, reports indicated that senior BW leader Niranjan Hojai would be the next ‘chairman’ of the banned militant outfit. Stating that the arrest of Jewel Garlosa could not weaken the organization, the BW ‘deputy chairman’ Daniel Garlossa said Niranjan Hojai, a nephew of the arrested North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council Chief Executive Member, Mohit Hojai, would now lead the outfit. Assam Tribune; The Hindu, June 5, 2009.
Terror has nothing to do with Kashmir, says External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna: India on June 2, 2009, strongly objected to Pakistan’s attempt to link the Kashmir issue to terrorism in the region and maintained that bilateral dialogue would resume only when Islamabad creates conditions for it. "It (terrorism) has nothing to do with Kashmir. Terror whether it is in Kashmir, in Mumbai or elsewhere, it is abominable," External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters in New Delhi. He was responding to Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s remarks that Kashmir issue "holds the key to durable peace in the region" and said that it must be resolved through "sincere dialogue". Krishna pointed out that Kashmir is a part of the composite dialogue that India had initiated with Pakistan. "Now it is in Pakistan’s court to create conditions for the dialogue to be resumed," he stated. The composite dialogue, which began in January 2004, was suspended by India after the 26/11 attacks carried out by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists based in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, responding to the release of Jama’at-ud-Da’awa (JuD, the LeT front) chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, Krishna said it demonstrates Pakistan’s lack of seriousness in fighting terror and raises serious doubts about its commitment to probe the Mumbai attack. "It is regrettable that Pakistan has released Hafiz Saeed who has been part of terror outfits in Pakistan. The organisation (JuD) with which he has connections has been declared a terrorist organisation by the United Nations Security Council," he said, while reacting to the development in Lahore. "This only shows that Pakistan’s seriousness to fight against terror is still under a cloud," he said. Expressing "disappointment" over the release of Saeed, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash observed: "It is regrettable that, notwithstanding this background and the international obligations it entails on Pakistan, he has been released." He said Saeed’s release "raises serious doubts over Pakistan’s sincerity in acting with determination against terrorist groups and individuals operating from its territory". Prakash noted that Saeed is the head of JuD and LeT, which are listed by the UN under UNSC Resolution 1267 as being affiliates of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. "Hafiz Saeed is specifically listed as linked to these terrorist groups," he said, adding "the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jama’at-ud-Da’awa have a long and well established background of planning and launching terrorist acts against India. His professed ideology and public statements leave no doubt as to his terrorist inclinations". Daily Excelsior, June 3, 2009.
Maoists launch nationwide protest against President's decision to reinstate the Army chief: The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (Unified CPN-Maoist) on June 3, 2009, launched a nationwide protest against President Ram Baran Yadav's decision to reinstate the Army Chief General Rookmangud Katawal, who was dismissed by the then Maoist-led Government. Maoist cadres staged a sit-in protest and surrounded the District Administration Offices (DAOs) across the country for two hours. In Kathmandu Valley, hundreds of Maoists demonstrated in front of the DAOs of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, chanting slogans against the President's 'unconstitutional move' and demanding its immediate withdrawal. Nepal News, June 4, 2009.
113 Taliban militants among 162 persons killed in NWFP during the week: Three Security Force (SF) personnel, including an officer, were killed and seven others sustained injuries, while four Taliban militants were also killed during the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Rast, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on June 7, 2009. According to the ISPR media update, two soldiers were killed while fighting the militants in Kabal area, between Gul Jabba and Hazara Bridge. Separately, the Taliban killed the nephew of the ruling Awami National Party’s Member of Provincial Assembly, Shamsher Ali Khan, and a Policeman in Swat on June 7.
SFs stated on June 5 they had killed 10 Taliban militants and arrested four people, while 14 SF personnel were killed and 14 others injured in clashes with the Taliban in Malakand Division. In addition, the troops on June 5 also killed 10 militants and secured the Chakesar area of Shangla District. The ISPR said SFs carried out action in the Shangla District, situated to the east of the Swat valley, killing 10 militants in Chakesar. Further, four farmers harvesting wheat in fields were killed when hit by mortar shells in the Puran sub-division of Shangla District.
SFs said on June 4 that they killed 10 militants and arrested six others in various areas of the Swat and Buner Districts, while a soldier was killed and two others injured in various clashes. Troops engaged fleeing militants at a check-post at Shangla and killed six of them and arrested four others, according to the ISPR. Separately, seven SF personnel, including three Police officers and a Special Services Group Captain, were killed when the militants attacked a Buner-bound joint Police and Frontier Corps convoy at Natian, triggering a full-fledged operation in the area that continued late into the night of June 4. The exact number of causalities from the militants’ side could not be ascertained.
SFs on June 3 killed three militants in the Bedara area of Matta Sub-division in Swat and secured Charbagh, where troops were consolidating their position. The ISPR claimed that SFs conducted a search operation in a seminary situated near Allahabad town in Charbagh and recovered a huge cache of explosives and improvised explosive devices. In the Bedara area of Matta, the militants attacked a post that led to an exchange of fire. The ISPR claimed that three militants and a soldier were killed and two soldiers were wounded in the incident.
Battling the Taliban for the control of Charbagh in Swat Valley, SFs faced stiff resistance, killing 21 militants and suffering three casualties during the last 24 hours, the ISPR said on June 2. In addition, 18 militants were arrested during Operation Rah-e-Rast in Charbagh and other areas.
SFs on June 1 claimed to have killed 37 militants in the Swat Valley and the Buner District during the ongoing military operation against the Taliban. In addition, troops launched an operation in the Charbagh area of the valley to clear it of the militants, while curfew was lifted from Kalam town after talks between SFs and local elders. The Frontier Corps sources said SFs engaged the militants in their hideouts in Pacha Killay, Tongo Pull, Jawar and Gul Killay. 19 militants were killed during an exchange of fire between the SFs and Taliban. The ISPR said 18 militants were killed and 12 others were arrested in Swat. Meanwhile, troops launched an operation in Charbagh to purge it of militants. Heavy clashes reportedly broke out for the control of the Jangle Jerki village. SFs faced stiff resistance from the militants during their operation to link Kabal to Sarsenai. The ISPR said an exchange of fire took place in Fatehpur, in which one militant was killed. In Qalagai, a Taliban hideout was attacked and three militants were killed, while seven others were arrested. SFs neutralised a Taliban training centre in the Dambar Kandao area of Peuchar. The ISPR claimed that nine militants were killed and six others sustained injuries in the operation. The militants on May 31 reportedly beheaded three persons in Pacha Killay in Buner District for spying for the SFs. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, June 2-8, 2009.
49 persons killed in suicide attack on mosque in Dir Upper District: A suicide bomber killed 49 worshippers, including 12 children, at a mosque in a remote village of the Dir Upper District of NWFP on June 5, 2009. Dozens more were injured as a young man detonated explosives fastened to his body minutes before the Friday congregation in the Hayagay Sharqi village. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. The village, located in the mountains, is situated approximately 20 kilometres east of Dir town, the District headquarters. Reports indicated that the Hayagay Sharqi village has been strongly opposed to the presence of the Taliban militants in the Doog Darra area of Dir Upper. The residents had also established checkpoints to keep a vigil on the movement of the militants, who would use the village as a corridor to Dir town. The News, June 6, 2009.
Lahore High Court orders release of Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed: A full bench of the Lahore High Court on June 2, 2009, accepted a habeas corpus petition and ordered the Government to release Jama’at-ud-Da’awa [JuD, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) front] chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Colonel (Retd.) Nazir Ahmad. The Court observed, "After hearing the learned counsel for the parties and perusal of the case law on the subject as well as the material produced by the learned law officers in chamber, for the reasons to be delivered later on, with a unanimous view, we have held that this writ petition in the form of habeas corpus is maintainable as prima facie the Government has no sufficient grounds to detain the petitioners for preventive measures… As far as the UN resolution is concerned, there is no matter before us about the vires and the Government can act upon the same in letter and spirit if so advised. But relying on the same, the detention cannot be maintained, as it was even not desired thereby."
During the proceedings, petitioners’ counsel A.K. Dogar had claimed the Government’s plea to detain his clients in the public interest was wrong. Members of the JuD are good Muslims who follow the example of the holy Prophet, he said, claiming the detention was part of a Western conspiracy to defame Islam. He said the Government had made United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1267 its basis for detaining the petitioners, even though the resolution dealt with an arms embargo, freezing the guilty party’s assets, and banning them from travelling abroad, not detention. Defending the Government, Deputy Attorney General Naveed Inayat Malik said Dogar’s arguments collapsed under Article 10(3) of the Constitution, which contended it was not necessary to show grounds for detention in the case of preventative detention.
In December 2008, the Interior Ministry had ordered the detention of six JuD leaders, including its chief Hafiz Saeed, on the suspicion of his group’s involvement in the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 26, 2008. A review board of the Lahore High Court on May 5 extended for further 60 days the detention of Hafiz Saeed and Colonel Nazir Ahmed, while releasing its two leaders Mufti Abdur Rehman and Amir Hamza. Daily Times; The News, June 3, 2009.