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SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 15, No. 25, December 19, 2016

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal


ASSESSMENT

INDIA
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Maoists: Desperate Measures
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On December 16, 2016, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres hacked Dharmendra Kudami (33) to death in the Kurrempara area of Metapal village in the Dantewada District of Chhattisgarh on the suspicion of being a ‘police informer’. Kudami's wife Ratna Kudami is the sarpanch (head of the Panchayat, the village local-self government institution) of Metapal village. An unnamed Police officer disclosed, "A group of Maoists, armed with bows and arrows, axes and knives stormed into the victim's house and murdered Dharmendra in front of his family. Though the exact reason for the attack is yet to be ascertained, preliminary investigation suggests the ultras accused him of being a police informer."

On December 12, 2016, Jeevan Singh Munda (38), the mukhiya (village headman) of Jargo panchayat was dragged out of his home by CPI-Maoist cadres masquerading as the Police and shot dead in the Tamar block area of the Ranchi District in Jharkhand. Commenting on the incident, Superintendent of Police (SP) Rajkumar Lakra, Ranchi (Rural), stated, "Four Maoist posters found near his body said he had paid the price for being a police informer. But, there is nothing on record to prove that the deceased was an informer."

On December 5, 2016, a group of Maoist cadres killed Budhram Mudma (55) at his village, Mandem, under Farsegarh Police Station limits in the Bijapur District of Chhattisgarh. Maoist pamphlets recovered from the spot claimed that Mudma was killed because he was a ‘police informer’.

On November 11, 2016, Maoists tortured and killed Kartik Dhurve (23) in the Balaghat District of Madhya Pradesh on the suspicion that he was a ‘police informer’. An unnamed official stated, "They may have seen him talking to some senior police officials at some point of time and suspected him to be an informer.”

According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 49 civilians labelled ‘police informers’ have been killed by the Maoists in 2016 (data till December 18). The highest number of such killings has been reported from Chhattisgarh (15), followed by 10 in Odisha, nine in Jharkhand, six in Maharashtra, four in Bihar, three in Andhra Pradesh and two in Madhya Pradesh. During the corresponding period of 2015, Maoists had killed at least 57 civilians after branding them ‘police informers’: 17 in Chhattisgarh, followed by 16 in Odisha, eight in Maharashtra, six in Jharkhand, four each in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, and two in Telangana. Significantly, the total number of civilians killed by the Maoists so far in 2016, stands at 116, as compared to 93 during the corresponding period of 2015.

Since the formation of the CPI-Maoist on September 21, 2004, at least 2,965 civilian fatalities have been recorded in Maoist-linked violence. Out of these, 581 (19.59 per cent) were killed as alleged ‘police informers’.

Number of alleged 'police informers' killed by CPI-Maoist: September 21, 2004 - 2016*

State

2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
Total

Andhra Pradesh

1 (01)
23 (132)
5 (18)
9 (24)
14 (28)
4 (10)

9(17)

3 (6)
5 (6)
0 (10)
1 (6)
4 (6)
3 (5)
81 (269)

Bihar

0 (10)
0 (25)
1 (16)
2 (23)
7 (35)
1 (37)
3 (54)
2 (39)
1 (16)
0 (21)
0 (7)
4 (4)
4 (8)
25 (295)

Chhattisgarh

2 (7)
1 (52)
0 (189)
9 (95)
8 (35)
26(87)
14 (72)
9 (39)
6 (26)
2(48)
4 (25)
17 (34)
15 (38)
113 (747)
Jharkhand
2 (6)
2 (49)
5 (18)
5 (69)
12 (74)
18 (74)
17 (71)
14 (79)
9(48)
5 (48)
1 (48)
6 (16)
9 (30)
105 (630)
Karnataka
0 (0)
0 (2)
0 (0)
1 (1)
0 (3)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (1)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
1 (7)
Madhya Pradesh
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
2 (2)
2(2)
Maharashtra
0 (0)
1 (2)
1 (13)
4 (9)
0 (2)
9 (12)
7 (22)
12(34)
8 (21)
4 (10)
1 (9)
8 (11)
6 (9)
61 (154)
Odisha
0 (0)
2 (13)
0 (3)
0 (13)
7 (24)
15 (36)
25 (62)
21 (36)
10 (27)
13 (22)
16 (31)
16 (20)
10 (24)
135 (311)
Telangana
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
1 (2)
2 (2)
0 (0)
3 (4)
Uttar Pradesh
0 (0)
1 (1)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
1 (1)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
2 (2)
West Bengal
0 (0)
0 (5)
0 (9)
1 (6)
1 (19)
17 (134)
29 (328)
5 (41)
0 (2)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
0 (0)
53 (544)
TOTAL
5 (24) 20.83%
30 (281) 10.67%
12 (266) 4.51%
31 (240) 12.91%
49 (220) 22.27%
91 (391) 23.27%
104 (626) 16.61%
66 (275) 24%
39 (146) 26.71%
24 (159) 15.09%
24 (128) 18.75%
57 (93) 61.29%
49 (116) 42.24%
581 (2965) 19.59%
Source: SATP, * Data till December 18, 2016
Figures in brackets indicate number of total civilians killed.

An analysis of fatalities indicates that Odisha recorded the highest number of such killings during this period, 135 alleged ‘informers’ out of a total of 311 civilian fatalities (43.40 per cent); followed by Chhattisgarh with 113 out of a total of 747 civilian fatalities (15.12 per cent); Jharkhand 105, out of 630 civilian fatalities (16.66 per cent); Andhra Pradesh, 81 out of a total of 269 civilian fatalities (30.11 per cent); Maharashtra,  61 of a total of 154 civilian fatalities (39.61 per cent); West Bengal 53 of a total of 544 civilian fatalities (9.74 per cent); Bihar, 25 of a total of 295 civilian fatalities (8.47 per cent); Telangana three of four civilian fatalities (75.00 per cent); two of a total of two civilian fatalities (100 per cent) each of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh; and Karnataka one of seven civilian fatalities (14.28 per cent).

These numbers, however, appear to be gross underestimates. Indeed, according to Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) data, available only since 2010, the number of alleged ‘police informers’ killed by Naxalites [Left Wing Extremists, LWEs] between January 1, 2010, and November 30, 2016, stood at a much higher 1,081. The total fatalities recorded by the UMHA among civilians during the same period were 2,361. Thus, alleged ‘police informers’ constituted 45.78 per cent of all civilian killings.

Number of 'police informers" killed during 2010 to 2016 (upto 30.11.2016)

Parameter

2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016 (upto 30.11.2016)
Total

No. of Incidents

2213
1760
1415
1136
1091
1088
981
9684

Civilians killed

720
469
301
282
222
171
196
2361

No. of 'police informers' killed out of the civilians killed

323
218
134
113
91
92
110
1081

Percentage of 'Police informers' killed

44.86
46.48
44.51
40.07
40.99
53.80
56.12
45.78
No. of Jan Adalats held
75
97
62
63
54
40
20
411
Source: UMHA

The targeting of alleged ‘informers’ is an established Maoist policy. While some of the victims of such violence are abducted and subsequently killed with pamphlets left near their bodies, others are killed in front of villagers and family members. Often, a kangaroo court (Jan Adalat or “people's court”) orchestrated, and a ‘sentence of death’ is pronounced and quickly and publicly executed as a warning to others. During 2016, at least 20 Jan Adalats were held by Maoists, while 40 such Adalats were held in 2015. No information is available regarding the number of civilians who were ‘punished’ by these ‘courts’.

The proportionate surge in such killings recorded since 2013 has obviously been prompted by the significant gains registered by the SFs in areas of earlier Maoist dominance, and overwhelmingly based on successful intelligence-led operations. The Maoists believe that this has occurred because of the deep penetration by intelligence agencies into ‘their areas’ with the help of the local population. Indeed, CPI-Maoist’s East Division ‘secretary’, Pratap Reddy aka Ramchandra Reddy aka Appa Rao aka Chalapathi, in an interview published on July 21, 2016, stated, “... I must add that in the conspiracy to eliminate the Maoists party, the ruling classes and the State Government have been exploiting people in the tribal areas by converting them as police informer and agents. Such people are being given arms by the police and a special police officer (SPO) network created. It is such elements that we are eliminating.”

A continuous flow of information from Maoist areas has been critical to the cumulative successes that have decimated the Maoists over recent years, and will remain the core of future successes. The Maoists can naturally be expected to fight back with everything available to them, and targeted killings are likely to rise with the reverses they suffer. Sustaining intelligence flows and protecting their sources are, consequently, urgent operational imperatives. An environment of security needs to be progressively consolidated, and ending targeted killings by the Maoists is an integral element of any strategy to do so.

INDIA
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Manipur: Volatility Persists in Chandel
Nijeesh N.
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On December 15, 2016, at least three Manipur Police personnel were killed and another 11 were injured when suspected militants ambushed road opening parties (ROPs) of the Manipur Police at two different places in Chandel District. The first ambush occurred at around 6 am [IST] near the Lokchao Bridge in Lokchao village. Two Police constables were killed and 11 were wounded. M-79 grenade launcher shells and spent bullets of M-16 assault rifles were recovered from the ambush site. Around two hours later, a Police team coming from the State capital, Imphal, was attacked in the Bongyang area of the same District, and one Policeman on ROP duty was killed. Though no outfit has claimed the attacks so far, based on a report filed by State Director General of Police (DGP) L.M. Khaute, the Manipur Government sent a report to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) on December 16, 2016, stating that the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) was suspected to be behind the twin attacks. Chandel District shares a border with Myanmar.

Earlier on November 26, 2016, at least five troopers of the Army’s Para Special Force deployed along the Manipur-Myanmar border sustained serious injuries when militants ambushed a patrol party in the Sajik Tampak area in Chandel District. Though the soldiers retaliated, all the militants managed to escape across the border, taking advantage of the densely forested area. The United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFWESEA), claimed responsibility for the attack. For a long time the Sajik Tampak area, which is close to the Myanmar border, was the ‘headquarters’ of several insurgent groups, but Security Forces (SFs) had eventually pushed them out and established a permanent camp. On April 17, 2015, the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) joined hands with three of the most active terror outfits in the Northeast: the Independent faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA-I); IK Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-IKS); and Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), to form UNLFWESEA. CorCom [Coordination Committee], a conglomerate of six Manipur Valley-based militant outfits have also reportedly extended ‘moral support’ to the Front.

On October 29, 2016, a non-local shopkeeper, Dharmendra Kumar aka Aju (40), was shot dead by unidentified militants in the Moreh area of Chandel District. The deceased’s pregnant wife, Chanda, was also severely injured in the firing. Police said they suspected that the attack was part of a possible extortion bid.

Chandel Distinct had witnessed a major attack on SFs on May 22, 2016, when six Assam Rifles (AR) personnel, including one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), were killed, and another seven personnel were injured in an ambush at Hengshi village in the Chakpikarong tehsil (revenue unit) of the District. The militants had triggered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) before opening fire on the AR convoy, which was returning to their Battalion Headquarters at Joupi village in Chakpikarong tehsil of Chandel District, after assessing a landslide in Holingjang. The militants took away four AK-47 rifles, one light machine gun, one INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifle  and ammunition from the SFs. Notably, on June 4, 2015, in one of the worst militant attacks targeting SFs’ in the entire Northeast, 18 Army personnel had been killed and another 11 injured, when militants ambushed a convoy of 46 troopers of the Army’s 6 Dogra Regiment at Moltuk village (just about 30 kilometers away from Hengshi village) in the Khengjoy tehsil of the Chandel District.

Insurgency-related Incidents in Chandel District: 2000-2016*
Year
Civilian Fatalities
SFs Fatalities
Terrorists Fatalities
Total Killed
Incidents of Explosion
Incidents of Abduction
Incidents of Arms Recovery
Incidents of Arrest
Incidents of Surrender

2000

0
0
6
6
0
0
0
0
0

2001

3
1
0
4
0
0
0
0
0

2002

0
2
12
14
0
1
0
1
0

2003

0
2
10
12
0
1
0
0
0

2004

3
25
3
31
0
0
0
2
0

2005

3
5
2
10
0
0
0
0
0

2006

6
5
22
33
4
1
4
0
0

2007

22
26
39
87
4
1
8
2
1

2008

9
4
17
30
6
0
10
1
0

2009

1
16
42
59
1
0
26
5
0

2010

1
12
0
13
8
1
4
5
0

2011

0
0
1
1
4
0
5
24
1

2012

7
3
3
13
2
2
19
31
0

2013

2
3
1
6
8
0
2
20
2

2014

0
2
0
2
5
1
21
31
1

2015

2
21
6
29
7
2
7
20
1

2016

2
9
0
11
8
1
7
5
0

Total

61
136
164
361
57
11
113
147
6
Source: SATP, *Data till December 18, 2016.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 11 persons, including two civilians and nine SF personnel, have been reported killed in insurgency-related incidents in the Chandel District during the current year (data till December 18, 2016). During the corresponding period of 2015, the District had recorded 29 fatalities (two civilians, 21 SF personnel and six militants). There were no more fatalities in 2015 thereafter. It was in the year 2007 that the District had recorded its highest number of fatalities, 87, including 22 civilians, 26 SF personnel and 39 militants.

One of the five Hill Districts of Manipur, Chandel was formed on May 13, 1974, and covers an area of 3,313 square kilometers in the south-eastern part of the State. Formerly known as Tengnoupal District, the District Headquarters was shifted to Chandel in 1983, and the District was subsequently renamed Chandel. It is the fourth largest District of Manipur, bordering Myanmar on the south, Ukhrul District on the east, Churachandpur District on the south and west, and Thoubal District to the north. With a population of 144,182 (2011 Census), Chandel is the second least populous District in the State, after Tamenglong. Around 86 per cent of the total population of the District is tribal, from about 20 different tribes, prominently consisting of Anal, Lamkang, Moyon, Monsang, Chothe and Maring (collectively known as old Kuki), Thadou and Zou, as well as Meiteis including Muslims (Meitei Pangal) in small numbers. Nearly 88 per cent of the population lives in a total of 361 villages. Moreh town, the international trade centre of the State, lies on the southernmost part of the District.

In spite of its proximity to the centre of political and administrative power in the State, Chandel remains one of the most backward Districts of Manipur. A significant proportion of the blame for the state of affairs goes to the raging militancy in the District. The proximity of the District to Myanmar, which has been used by various insurgent groups as a safe haven for years, has been the bane of Chandel. These militant outfits frequent the District en route to and from Myanmar, where they have their camps. Major insurgent groups such as NSCN-IM, NSCN-K, ULFA-I, People’s Liberation Army (PLA), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) and the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), are the most active in the District, as these outfits have been able to establish mobile camps with very efficient informer networks in the hills of Western Myanmar. According to recent reports, an estimated 2,000 cadres belonging to a dozen outfits have taken shelter in Myanmar.

The entire area along the India-Myanmar border, including Chandel District, has been witnessing deadly militant attacks on SFs in the recent past and remains volatile. According to partial data compiled by SATP, between January 1, 2000, and December 18, 2016, there have been at least 751 fatalities, including 130 civilians, 182 SF personnel and 439 militants, in 10 Districts, spread across the four northeastern States [Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland] of India that shares borders with Myanmar. Worryingly, Chandel District is the worst affected, accounting for 361 fatalities (61 civilians, 136 SF personnel and 164 militants) over this period.

The Indian Army had carried out ‘surgical operations’ inside Myanmar after the June 4, 2015, Chandel attack and reportedly killed several insurgents in different militant camps. Nevertheless, vulnerabilities along the border persist. On August 19, 2016, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju stated that India had requested Nyapyidaw to take action against insurgent groups taking shelter in Myanmar: “There are reports of some leaders of insurgent outfits from the north east taking shelter in Myanmar and we are in constant talks with the Government of that country requesting them to take action against them." Further, on September 5, 2016, a report claimed that New Delhi had started supplying advanced weaponry and gadgets to the Myanmar Army to enable it to set up its military headquarters close to areas occupied by the militant groups.

While its proximity to Myanmar Border has made Chandel vulnerable to insurgent activities for long, recent developments have added to its susceptibilities. Thus, in the evening of October 30, 2016, the State Government decided to upgrade the Sub-divisions of Sadar Hills and Jiribam to full-fledged Districts. The Government subsequently reversed its decision on October 31, 2016, as it was opposed by the Naga organisations who felt that the upgrade would help form more Kuki-dominated Districts in the State. The United Naga Council (UNC) – the apex body of the Naga community in Manipur – had launched an indefinite economic blockade from November 1, 2016, which is still in force. Stringent measures to lift the ongoing blockade as early as possible are urgently required, as the current situation has the potential to adversely impact the security situation across the Northeast region.

In the meantime, on December 8, 2016, the State Government announced the creation of seven new Districts – Kangpokpi, Noney, Tengnoupal, Pherzol, Kamjong, Kakching, and Jiribam (partially reversing the earlier reversal of October 31). These seven new Districts were carved out of the earlier nine, including Chandel. Tengnoupal was carved out of Chandel and the formal inauguration was done on December 15, 2016, the day of the last attack. In fact the Police team that was targeted near Lokchao Bridge was heading for Tengnoupal, where State Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was scheduled to attend the programme to inaugurate the new District. Despite the attack, the Chief Minister attended the programme.

As in the case of Manipur as a State, there has been relative improvement in the security situation in Chandel District. Nevertheless, the cyclical nature of violence in the District (and the State) remains a perpetual threat, sharply accentuated in Chandel as a result of the peculiar vulnerabilities arising from its shared borders with Myanmar, and the concentration of insurgent safe havens there.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
December 12-18, 2016

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

INDIA

 

Arunachal Pradesh

0
0
2
2

Jammu and Kashmir

0
3
2
5

Manipur

0
3
0
3

Left-Wing Extremism

Chhattisgarh

2
0
7
9

Odisha

1
0
0
1

Total (INDIA)

3
6
11
20

PAKISTAN

 

FATA

1
0
0
1

Punjab

0
0
5
5

Sindh

0
0
4
4

Total (PAKISTAN)

1
0
9
10
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


BANGLADESH

Government is going to enact law to confiscate property of convicted war criminals, says Minister for Law Anisul Huq: Minister for Law, Anisul Huq, on December 15 said that the Government is going to enact a law to confiscate the property of the convicted war criminals. Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division Department of the Law Ministry has already outlined the draft of the law, Anisul said. New Age, December 16, 2016.  

Trial of war criminals involved in genocide, killing of intellectuals and opposing independence of country must continue, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while addressing a discussion on the occasion of the Martyred Intellectuals Day at Krishibid Institution in Dhaka city on December 14 said the trial of war criminals involved in genocide, killing of intellectuals and opposing the independence of the country must continue. "No one will be able to save them [war criminals]. Whatever the tactics and conspiracy they devise, the trial will go on. I think the time has come the people will have to be vocal. Those who nourished the war criminals, gave them the political rights in the country gave them flag, are the same criminals. They didn’t want the country’s independence and they also do not like development of the country," she said. The Independent, December 15, 2016.


INDIA

MoSHA blames Maoists for tribal's underdevelopment in Jharkhand: Union Minister of State for Home Affairs (MoSHA) Hansraj Gangaram Ahir blamed the Communist Party of India–Maoist (CPI-Maoist) for underdevelopment of tribals in the country while addressing media on December 16 in Ranchi District, reports. He was attending the concluding part of three-day workshop on "LWE Theatre - Interstate operations and coordination' hosted by the CRPF, Ahir said that the living standard of tribals in most parts of the country is around 150 years behind that of our modern cities. Times of India, December 17, 2016.

North 24-Parganas District in West Bengal emerges as a hub of FICN, says report: Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) case records in West Bengal for the six-month period between May and October reveal that North 24-Parganas District has emerged as a close second behind Malda District in the circulation of counterfeit currency. Different Police Stations in North 24-Parganas registered 31 FICN cases during the six-month window. Murshidabad Police Stations registered 24 cases. Malda topped the list with 45. Bardhaman was the fourth with 16 cases. Hindustan Times, December 16, 2016.

Six NNPGs unite and form 'working group' in Nagaland: In an unprecedented move, six ‘Naga National Political Groups’ (NNPGs) - Government of the People’s Republic of Nagaland (GPRN)/ National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), Naga National Council-Federal Government of Nagaland (NNC-FGN), National People’s Government of Nagaland/Non Accordist faction of Naga National Council (NPGN/NNC-NA), Reformation faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-R) and Government Democratic Republic of Nagaland / Non Accordist faction of Naga National Council (GDRN/NNC-NA) unanimously decided to join hands in the interest of the Naga people, informed Yesonu Veyie, ‘convenor mediation committee’ Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) in a press note on December 13 at AIDA Hall in Dimapur District. Nagaland Post, December 15, 2016.

Indian Railways lost over INR 70 million due to Naxal disruptions: Indian Railways lost more than INR 70 million in 2015 due to destruction of its property by Naxalites [Left Wing Extremists (LWEs)]. According to sources, the States in which the railways suffered the maximum losses due to Naxal disruptions were Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. Minister of State for Railways, Rajen Gohain disclosed the figures in a written reply to the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Indian Parliament) on December 14. He said railway property worth INR 7,02,92,441 was damaged by Naxalites in 2015. DNA, December 15, 2016.

IM co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal lives in Karachi with ISI patronage, says report: Prime accused in Dilsukhnagar blast case, and Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, Riyaz Bhatkal is believed to be holed up in Karachi, with the patronage of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). NIA detectives claim IM co-founder Riyaz made a huge amount of money courtesy the benevolence of ISI. "Several IM members received financial and material assistance from ISI, which has been providing shelter to Riyaz and his brother Iqbal Bhatkal in Karachi," the NIA said in its chargesheet filed in the Dilsukhnagar blast case. Officials said Riyaz is currently living a lavish life at a house in Karachi. Times of India, December 14, 2016.

China says no change in stand on JeM chief Masood Azhar issues, says report: China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing that there is no change in China’s position on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar. "As for India's application for… listing issue pursuant to resolution of 1267 (to list Masood as terrorist), China's position remains unchanged," Geng Shuang said. Times of India, December 13, 2016.


NEPAL

Major three political parties agree to hold local polls under existing structures: Major three political parties [Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-Maoist Center) and Nepali Congress (NC) and the main opposition Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML)], have agreed to hold local elections under the existing structures. During the meeting of the chiefs of the three major parties at the Prime Minister (PM)’s official residence in Baluwatar in Kathmandu on December 13, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba had floated the proposal. CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and PM and CPN-Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal agreed to the proposal, according to a source. My Republica, December 14, 2016.

Hindu State will be restored at any cost, says Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Shankar Bhandari: Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Shankar Bhandari claimed that his party, Nepali Congress (NC), has not forged an official opinion that Nepal should be a secular country. Speaking at an interaction at Reporters’ Club in Kathmandu on December 12, Minister Bhandari said, “Till now, no discussions have been made in our party on secularism. Secularism was not the agenda of the People’s Revolution-2. It came out of nowhere.” He added that his party was for restoring Nepal as a Hindu State. My Republica, December 13, 2016.

Consensus will be forged if amendment bill withdrawn, says CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli: Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli has stated that consensus with the ruling parties will be forged if the Government revokes the newly registered Constitution amendment bill. At a press conference organized by the Press Chautari, Banke Chapter at Nepalgunj on December 12, leader Oli commented that the country was misled by the politicians who he blamed were confusing the people in the name of identity. My Republica, December 13, 2016.


PAKISTAN

Prime Minister urges religious scholars to help eliminate extremism: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing a Seeratun Nabi conference in Lahore on December 12 urged religious scholars to help eliminate extremism. Nawaz regretted that 'certain elements' had distorted Islam's image as a religion of peace by spreading anarchy and bloodshed. The premier pointed out that the hideouts of terrorists had been eliminated due the efforts and sacrifices of the national leadership, religious scholars, armed forces and police. He added that it is now the responsibility of religious scholars to reestablish a link between Islam and peace, taking guidance from the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). Dawn, December 13, 2016.


SRI LANKA

Government will deliver on its promises next year, says Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that Government will deliver on its promises next year. The Premier said "With the parliamentary elections in August 2015, we created the National Government. And we gave it a period for it to stabilize. I think that has taken place now. We also prepared a new policy framework. We had incurred a heavy national debt, there was adverse publicity for Sri Lanka, and human right was a big issue - all those have been resolved. We have sort of created the stability and cleared the way. Now, next year is when we have to deliver on our promises, which will also help us to consolidate this arrangement." Colombo Page, December 15, 2016.

'War against the LTTE cost over USD 200 billion', says former Indian diplomat Shivshankar Menon: