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SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 15, No. 32, February 6, 2017

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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Odisha: Persistent Anxieties
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On February 2, 2017, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres killed a civilian, identified as Dasru Durua, at Bara village under the Mathili Police limits of Malkangiri District.

A day earlier, orchestrating the first violent incident of the current year (2017) in the State, the Maoists triggered a landmine explosion near Mungarbhumi in Koraput District, killing eight Police personnel and injuring another five. The explosion targeted a Police van, carrying 13 Police personnel, on its way to the Police Training College in Angul District. This was the worst attack, in terms of fatalities, against the Security Forces’ (SFs) recorded in the State since May 23, 2011, when nine Policemen were killed in a Maoist-triggered landmine blast in the Sunabeda forest area of Nuapada District.

According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least nine persons, have been killed in Maoist-linked violence in the State in 2017, thus far (data till February 5, 2017). These included eight Policemen and one civilian. No fatality among the Maoists has yet been recorded.

Through 2016, Odisha accounted for 72 fatalities (27 civilians, three SF personnel and 42 Maoists) as against 35 fatalities (20 civilians, four SF personnel and 11 Maoists) recorded through 2015. [According the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) data as against 38 fatalities (25 civilians, three SF personnel and 10 Maoists) recorded through 2015, Odisha accounted for 64 fatalities (20 civilians, three SF personnel and 41 Maoists) up to November 15, 2016.]

Though the increase in civilian fatalities is a worry, there has been significant improvement in the civilian security situation in the State since 2010 when the number of fatalities in this category had stood at 62. The number of civilian fatalities declined through 2011 (36), 2012 (27), and 2013 (22), they increased to 31 in 2014.    

In the meantime, SFs achieved a kill ratio of 1:14 in 2016, a dramatic improvement over the kill ratio of 1:2.75 in 2015. Significantly, the Maoists had achieved a positive kill ratio kill ratio of 1:9.12 in 2008, when SFs killed eight Maoists while losing 73 of their own personnel.

In the most successful operations ever conducted by the SFs against the CPI-Maoist, since the formation of the outfit in September 2004, SFs killed at least 30 Maoists in two successive encounters in the Bejingi Forest area, between Ramgarh and Panasput, in the Malkangiri District on October 24 and 27, 2016. Those killed included Bakuri Venkata Ramana Murthy aka Ganesh aka Prasad aka Ramireddy, ‘official spokesman’ of the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) and ‘secretary’ of the ‘east division unit’ of the party; and Chemella Krishnaiah aka Bhaskar aka Daya, 'secretary' of the Koraput-Srikakulam 'joint division' of the AOBSZC.

Other parameters of violence also indicate that the trend of improvement in the security situation established in the State since 2010 continued through 2016. The number of overall Maoist-linked incidents recorded in the State stood at 66 in 2016 (up to November 15, 2016) as against 92 through 2015, and 103 through 2014. As in 2015, year 2016 did not record a single major incident (involving three or more killings) targeting civilians. The last such incident was recorded on April 27, 2014, when the Maoists had killed three villagers in Malkangiri District. The Maoists carried out a single attack on economic targets in the State in 2016 (UMHA data, up to November 15, 2016) as against 17 such incidents in 2015. After November 15, one such incident was recorded on November 18, 2016.

Further, SFs arrested another 38 Maoist cadres, including three ‘commander’ level cadres in 2016 (up to November 15, 2016), in addition to 60 such arrests through 2015. Mounting SF pressure has also resulted in the surrender of another 60 Maoists (up to November 15, 2016), in addition to 73 through 2015, and 100 each through 2014 and 2013.  

Following the defection of Sabyasachi Panda from the CPI-Maoist on August 10, 2012 and his subsequent arrest on July 17, 2014 Maoists’ fortunes in Odisha have declined rapidly. Adding to their problems, Nachika Linga, the leader of the Narayanpatna-based CPI-Maoist front organization Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), surrendered on October 28, 2014, resulting in a further weakening of the rebel formation in 2015. The Maoists further received another shock in their ‘safe haven’ in the Bejingi forest area, between Ramgarh and Panasput, in Malkangiri in 2016. Between 50 and 60 Maoists were reportedly holding a ‘plenary session’, attended by top leaders to discuss their ‘tactical counter offensive campaign’ (TCOC) against the SFs and were reportedly planning ‘something big’ to revive their movement in the region, when SFs launched two successive operations and eliminated at least 30 Maoists on October 24 and 27, 2016.  

Nevertheless, residual Maoist capacities and capabilities continue to present a significant challenge in the State. Crucially, civilian fatalities and the number of incidents of civilian killing increased from 20 and 18 respectively in 2015 to 27 and 23 in 2016. Civilian killings were reported from six Districts – Koraput (nine), Malkangiri (seven), Kandhamal (six), Kalahandi (three), Nuapada (one), and Rayagada (one) – in 2016; as against four Districts – Malkangiri (16), Kalahandi (two), Angul (one) and Balangir (one) – in 2015. Overall fatalities in Maoist-linked violence also increased from 35 in 2015 to 72 in 2016.

The Maoists also engineered at least 10 arson-related incidents in 2016, in comparison to seven in 2015. The Maoists were also involved in six explosions in the State, as against five in 2015; as well as 24 exchanges of fire between SFs and CPI-Maoist through 2016 in nine Districts, in comparison to 14 such incidents in six Districts in 2015.

Further, the number of bandh (total shut down) calls given by the Maoists in 2016 remained the same (10) as in 2015. The number of bandh calls stood at two in 2014. Out of Odisha’s 30 Districts, fatalities were reported from eight: Deogarh (two), Kalahandi (eight), Kandhamal (six), Koraput (12), Malkangiri (39), Nuapada (one), Rayagada (two) and Sundergarh (two) – in 2016; in comparison to seven Districts – Angul (one), Bolangir (one), Kalahandi (three), Kandhamal (two), Koraput (one), Malkangiri (25) and Sundergarh (two) – in 2015. Indeed, on December 5, 2016, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik informed the State Assembly that 19 of the 30 Districts of Odisha remained Naxal [Left Wing Extremism (LWE)] prone. According to UMHA’s list of 106 Maoist-affected Districts in the country, 19 fall in Odisha. 

Meanwhile, the State Election Commission was forced to issue a notification dated January 21, 2017, to either postpone or cancel General Elections for three tier Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) in some highly vulnerable areas of Malkangiri District. The decision came “after considering the joint report of Collector and Superintendent of Police, Malkangiri, to the effect that the process of election was vitiated as the Election Officers could not perform their duties in some Gram Panchayats [village level local self Government institution) due to law and order situation and conduct of free and fair election is likely to be affected in the present scenario in Chitrakonda Block [Malkangiri District]”. The February 2, 2017, civilian killing in Malkangiri District was related to these scheduled elections. The deceased was the only candidate for Ward No. 7 of the Bara village in Kartanpalli gram panchayat under the Mathili tehsil (revenue unit) in Malkangiri.

Significantly, the Maoists have long had a strong presence in Malkangiri District – a strategic location that shares borders with Maoist affected areas of both Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The latest developments show that, despite the reverses they have suffered, they continue to maintain a significant presence in Malkangiri. The PRI elections are scheduled to be held in five phases – February 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21, 2017. Posters and banners threatening people with dire consequences if they participated in the elections have been put on several occasions in different areas of the State. The Maoists had also created problems during the last PRI elections held in the State during the five-phase polling that commenced on February 11, 2012, and ended on February 19, 2012. The Maoist influence was palpable in the Narayanpatna Block of Koraput District, where most of the candidates ‘won’ uncontested during those elections.

Finding the existing deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) [eight battalions each of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF) and one battalion of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), a specialized unit of the CRPF] insufficient, Odisha Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi stated, on June 21, 2016, that the Government would ask for two more battalions of CAPFs to tackle LWE in the State. No further information is available in this regard.

Past experience has shown that, while normalcy can be attained in insurgency affected areas with the help of CAPFs, it can only be sustained by improving the strength and quality of the State Police. Worryingly, however, the strength of the State Forces remains abysmal. According to Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) data for 2016, the police-population ratio in Odisha was 130.95 (as on January 1, 2016) as compared to a poor national average of 137.11 [over 220 policemen per 100,000 population are considered necessary for ‘peacetime policing’]. Vacancies in the leadership, i.e. at the Indian Police Service (IPS) level, stood at 79, with a sanctioned strength of 188 IPS posts. Unless these deficits are addressed, the residual threat of a Maoist revival will persist.

The Maoists in Odisha are down but not out, and their activities indicate that they will certainly continue to challenge the security environment in the State. The absence of a strategic thrust to improve State Police capabilities and an enduring dominance of the entire State jurisdiction speaks poorly of the administration’s assessment and comprehension of the problem, as well as of its response.

PAKISTAN
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Sindh: Fragile Peace
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Baba Ladla alias Noor Muhammad, the notorious Lyari gangster who carried a reward of PKR three million, was killed on February 1, 2017, during a shootout with Rangers personnel in the Lyari Town area of Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh. Two of Baba Ladla’s close associates, Sikandar aka Sikko and Mohammad Yaseen aka Mama, were also killed in the encounter. During the operation, Head Constable Fayyaz and Constable Tufail were also killed. One Kalashnikov, two 9mm pistols and a hand grenade were also recovered from their possession. The “most wanted” suspects had been involved in numerous terrorist incidents, according to a Press Release issued by the Rangers: “Baba Ladla was wanted in more than 74 crimes by Police.”

The Press Release also revealed that Baba Ladla had, with the help of Peoples' Aman Committee [a militant group tied to the Pakistan People's Party (PPP)] chief Uzair Baloch, committed the murders of Shera Pathan, Arshad Pappu and Yasir Arafat, rival Lyari gangsters allegedly patronized by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)]. It also stated that, in March 2013, Baba Ladla had abducted a group of Muhajirs and murdered them. Of the other gangster gunned down in the operation, Sikander was wanted in more than 15 crimes, and was described as a close aide of Baba Ladla and also his facilitator. In April 2012, Sikander had committed the murder of Station House Officer (SHO) Fawad Khan while in the same year he had also killed Constable Asif. In 2013, Sikandar had tortured and subsequently killed two other men.  He had also been involved in the sale and purchase of illegal weapons.

On January 28, 2017, Police shot dead a Lyari gangster, identified as Irfan Pathan, who was wanted in more than 100 target killing cases, including murders of political workers and rivals, in Singo Lane of the Chakiwara area in Lyari Town. Officials said Irfan Pathan was a ‘shooter’ of the Faisal Pathan group of the Uzair Baloch gang, and he was also involved in multiple rape cases and had abducted several women from the area. Four other gangsters, identified as Rehan Pathan, Yousuf Pathan, Ismail and Ehsan Lala, managed to escape under the cover of fire. A cache of arms and ammunition were recovered from their hideout, including 301 grenades of different types, four .303-rifles, four SMGs, two G-3 rifles, one 9mm pistol, one 30-bore pistol, one 22-bore pistol, one 32-bore pistol, one LMG, one 12-bore repeater, two 30-bore mini-Kalashnikovs, four jackets, two telescopes, one gas mask and a huge quantity of ammunition.

On January 12, 2017, three gangsters were killed in an intelligence-driven targeted raid by Rangers personnel in the Yousaf Goth locality of Gadap Town in Karachi. One accomplice managed to escape, while a heavy cache of automatic weapons & ammunition was recovered.

Another notorious gangster, Bilal aka Bhaiyya, who carried a reward of PKR 1.5 million, was killed in a Police shootout in the Gao Godam area of Lyari Town in Karachi on December 7, 2015. Bilal, who was affiliated with the Uzair Baloch gang, was wanted in at least 100 criminal cases, including 50 murders, according to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Zahid Hussain. Three of Bilal’s associates, Mullah Sohail, Yousuf Pathan and Rehan Pathan, managed to flee from the spot during the operation.  

After Bada Ladla’s killing, Muhammad Saeed, Director General (DG) Rangers, visited different parts of Lyari on February 4, 2017. In a briefing on the security situation, he said peace would be established in every part of Karachi. Terrorist elements and their aiders and abettors would be strictly dealt with and no successors of Baba Ladla would be allowed to raise their heads.

Due to the Rangers Operation, Karachi, the commercial capital of the country, had witnessed a seven-year low in terrorism related violence. The Sindh Rangers were called in on September 4, 2013, when violence in the city was at a peak, with 1,668 fatalities. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) data, the violence in the Province has dropped to its lowest since 2010. Sindh recorded 271 fatalities, including 76 civilians, 24 SF personnel and 171 terrorists in 2016, in comparison to 718 such fatalities in 2015, including 350 civilians, 58 SF personnel and 310 terrorists. While the overall fatalities recorded a 62.25 per cent decrease in 2016 in comparison to previous year, civilian, SF and terrorist/organised crime categories had seen a 78.28, 58.62 and 44.83 per cent decline, respectively.  

The annual report of the Sindh Police released on December 27, 2016, disclosed that there was a 32.93 percent decline in killings in 2016, when 666 persons were killed, as compared to 2015, which saw 993 fatalities. According to the data, incidents of targeted killing also decreased by 71.69 per cent, with 45 persons shot dead in 2016, as compared to 159 in the previous year. Karachi also witnessed a sharp decline in incidents of terrorism, kidnappings for ransom and extortion by 60, 57 and 34 percents respectively in 2016, only two incidents of terrorism were reported in the outgoing year as compared to the previous year, incidents of kidnappings for ransom dropped to 21 from 49 in 2015, and 146 cases of extortion were reported as compared to 224 in the previous year. The Police report claimed that the number of target killings had reduced because of the ‘good performance’ of the Police, but did not mention the achievements of the Sindh Rangers' Karachi operations that have been ongoing for the past three years. 

Meanwhile, a Sindh Rangers report issued on December 29, 2016, claimed that a total of 446 'target killers' had been arrested in 2016, most of them belonging to the 'militant wings' of different political groups. According to the report, which focused on the ongoing Karachi operation, Sindh Rangers conducted 1,992 operations across the city over the year, during which more than 2,847 suspected criminals were taken into custody. A break-up of the numbers shows that of the 446 target killers arrested by the Rangers, 348 belonged to various political groups, 87 had links to Lyari gangs, while 11 were affiliated with different sectarian groups. In the report, the Rangers also claimed that murders and targeted killings in the city hit an all-time low in the year, with 87 people falling victim, compared to 199 in the preceding year. The report added that at least 1,845 arms, including machine guns, light machine guns, sub-machine guns, rocket launchers, detonators, pistols/revolvers and explosives, had been confiscated during the year. A total of 194,579 rounds of ammunition of different calibres were also recovered.

The number of major incidents (each involving three or more fatalities) decreased by 43.33 per cent in 2016 in comparison to the previous year. Sindh accounted for 34 major incidents of violence, resulting in 134 deaths in 2016, as against 60 such incidents, accounting for 295 fatalities in 2015.

There was also a considerable decrease in the number of explosion-related incidents in 2016. In comparison to 26 blasts resulting in 102 fatalities and 202 injured in 2015, 2016 recorded 19 blasts resulting in just three fatalities and 64 injured. Similarly, there was just one suicide attack of sectarian nature in which at least 13 persons, including five Policemen, were injured, as Police foiled two separate suicide blasts during Eid prayers in the Khanpur tehsil of Shikarpur District in Sindh. There was also relative calm in the Province from the perspective of sectarian violence. While the number of incidents of sectarian violence decreased from 30 in 2015 to 19 in 2016, the resultant deaths came down from 164 in 2015 to 25 in 2016 – a 84.75 per cent decline.

Despite the law-enforcement agencies’ crackdown on the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in Sindh and the killing of its key leaders, the outfit still managed to carry out 17 attacks through 2016, 10 of them in Karachi alone. The Islamabad based security think-tank Pak Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS) claimed, in a report, that 10 people were killed and another 30 injured in the 10 attacks carried out by the LeJ in Karachi in 2016. Muhammad Amir Rana, PIPS Director, asserted that the terror group was trying to fill the void created by the elimination of its main leaders and weakening infrastructure. The operational capacity of this terrorist formation was eroded further in 2016, as compared to 2015, with the arrest of LeJ Sindh chief Naeem Bukhari aka Atta-ur-Rehman.

Conventional crimes, however, remain on the rise. Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) crime statistics indicate a proportional increase in conventional crimes, such as robberies, car snatching, thefts and mobile snatching, by 24 per cent. According to CPLC data, till mid-December 2016, 14,974 people had been deprived of their mobile phones at gunpoint, while 17,790 mobile phones were stolen. On average, around 15 vehicles were snatched per month, the highest in November, when 23 vehicles were reportedly stolen. Through 2016, nearly 1,500 cars were stolen, 2,342 motorcycles were snatched, and another 21,028 motorcycles were stolen.

In its January 9, 2017 report, CPLC identified sixty 'hot spots' in Karachi, where street gangs operate and most incidents of snatchings take place. These areas included PIDC, Tariq Road, Sakhi Hassan, Hassan Square, Bahadurabad, Aisha Manzil and the NIPA Chowrangi which are high-risk areas, and even some areas in the city's posh localities, such as Defence and Clifton, make it to the list. All this, even after more than three years of the Karachi Operations, which claimed great success according to the Rangers and Provincial Government.

Almost 75 per cent of militants on the terrorism watch list for their alleged links with over a dozen proscribed organisations remain untraceable in Karachi, according to official documents. The Sindh counterterrorism forces were unable to trace 142 of a total of 190 terrorists, who were listed in ‘category A’, a term used for terrorists put on exceptional risk or high risk. Six most wanted terrorists belonging to proscribed organizations had shifted to Holland, Bangladesh, Dubai, Ethiopia, United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan, official documents said. Interviews with police officers and documents prepared by Sindh counterterrorism forces further revealed that “there is a strong possibility that some of these militants must have planned to execute recent terror attacks in Karachi.”

Despite of geo-tagging of 7,724 madrassas completed on September 4, 2016, around 93 madrassas in Sindh continue to have solid links with terrorist or banned outfits, and intelligence agencies have credible information about the activities taking place there. Under the NAP, geo-tagging of 7,724 madrassas had been completed by the Sindh Special Branch and the IT Branch, helping security agencies define their exact location and to maintain a strict watch on them. Of this total, 3,110 were located in Karachi, 1,290 in Hyderabad, 750 in Mirpurkhas, 1,536 in Sukkur and 1,037 in Larkana Division. Sources indicated that there were 10,030 madrassas in Sindh, of which 2,309 madrassas had been sealed under different charges, while 1,184 were yet to be registered.

On August 11, 2016, the Supreme Court assailed the Sindh Government for not taking proper steps to ensure maintenance of law and order in the provincial capital. During the proceedings of the ‘Karachi law and order case’, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa inquired about the status of CCTV cameras to be placed at different locations in the city. The Chief Secretary replied that an amount of rupees ten billion had been allocated for new CCTV cameras. The Court responded, "The issue is not allocating funds but also spending them where they are required to be spent… We want full implementation on the orders of the Karachi law and order case."

While Sindh in general and Karachi in particular have seen a ray of relative light after years of darkness, a confrontation between the Federal and Provincial Governments regarding Policing power has undermined operational effectiveness. In particular, the Provincial Government had questioned the ‘targeted operations’ by the Rangers, which is a Federal Security Force. In every 90 days, the rangers needed Provincial Government’s validation for further continuation. The clash between two different political parties, PML-Nawaz at the centre and Pakistan People’s Party in the Province, threatens the future successes against the terrorism-crime nexus in Sindh. 


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
January 30 - February 5, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

BANGLADESH

 

Left-wing Extremism

0
0
1
1

INDIA

 

Arunachal Pradesh

0
0
1
1

Jammu and Kashmir

0
0
2
2

Nagaland

2
0
0
2

Left-Wing Extremism

Andhra Pradesh

1
0
0
1

Bihar

1
0
0
1

Chhattisgarh

1
1
0
2

Jharkhand

2
0
0
2

Odisha

1
8
0
9

Total (INDIA)

8
9
3
20

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

0
2
0
2

FATA

0
1
0
1

KP

0
0
1
1

Sindh

0
2
3
5

Total (PAKISTAN)

0
5
4
9
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


BANGLADESH

Dhaka still 'high-threat' location, says USA State Department report: The United States of America’s (USA) State Department has assessed Dhaka as a “high-threat” location for political violence, terrorist activities and crimes directed at or affecting Washington's “official interests”. The department, which deals with America's global policies, made the assessment on Bangladesh in the 2017 Crime and Safety Report prepared and released by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) on February 1. On terrorism threats, the report says the State Department alerts US citizens to concerns about ongoing potential for extremist violence in Bangladesh. The Daily Star, February 4, 2017.  


INDIA

Eight Police personnel killed in Maoist's landmine explosion in Odisha: At least eight Police personnel were killed and five others injured in a landmine explosion suspected to have been triggered by the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres near Mungarbhumi on Sunki ghat in Koraput District on February 1. The van carrying 13 Police personnel was on its way to Angul. PrameyaNews7, February 2, 2017.  

Six persons killed and 12 others injured in an explosion in Punjab: Six persons were killed and 12 others injured in an explosion in a car near the venue of the road show of a Congress candidate at Maur Mandi in Bhatinda District on January. The blast occurred around 8:30 pm shortly after the "jan sabha" of Harminder Singh Jassi, who is contesting from Maur assembly seat, Police said. Jassi is a relative of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. News18, February 1, 2017.  

India-Pakistan border to soon have 'smart fencing', says Union Minister of State Kiren Rijiju: The Union Minister of State (MoS) for Home Kiren Rijiju on February 3 expressed hope that work on installing 'smart fence' along the Indo-Pak border will begin soon. The testing for the fence is in final stages and soon work for erecting it along the Indo-Pak border will begin, MoS Kiren Rijiju said. "We will have smart fencing at all our borders in phases but priority would be Indo-Pak frontier," Kiren Rijiju said. NDTV, February 4, 2017.

No guarantee that there will be no surgical strike in future, says Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh: Union Home Minister (UHM) Rajnath Singh on February 3 stated that Government cannot guarantee that surgical strikes won’t happen in future as any such action will depend on the situation prevailing at that time. “Pakistan is our neighbouring country. If they correct themselves it will be good, but if some terror attack takes place, we cannot guarantee that there won’t be surgical strike in future. We don’t want, but if situation demands, there is no second way,” UHM Rajnath Singh said. UHM Rajnath Singh also dismissed as “a mere eye wash” the house arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) ‘chief’ Hafiz Saeed, saying if Pakistan was serious about acting against Saeed and terrorists, it must take legal action against them. Indian Express, February 4, 2017.

223 persons killed in three unrests in Jammu and Kashmir, report State Government: Over 200 persons were killed in unrests in 2008, 2010 and 2016 in Jammu and Kashmir, the State Government told Legislative Assembly on January 30. Chief Minister (CM) Mehbooba Mufti, in a written reply, told the House that 76 civilians and two Police personnel were killed in “law and order disturbances” in the Valley in 2016. In 2010, 101 persons were killed and 4,288 others, including Security Forces (SFs), injured, she said. Mehbooba said 46 persons were killed and 1,265 others, including SFs, were injured in 2008. In 2016, as many as 8,587 persons were arrested, out of which 8,473 have been released till January 21, the Chief Minister informed. In addition, 522 persons were booked under the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA), and 265 persons among 1,978 booked in the recent unrest, were still under detention as on January 21, she stated. Daily Excelsior, January 31, 2017.


NEPAL

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal holds “positive” talks with Madhesi parties: Prime Minister (PM) Pushpa Kamal Dahal invited the Madhesi parties at the PM’s official residence in Baluwatar, Kathmandu, for a joint meeting on February 3 and told them that he wanted to move forward the preparations for local elections and the Constitution amendment that they sought simultaneously. PM Dahal assured the Madhesi parties of “making efforts” to address their concerns over the report prepared by Local Body Reconstructing Commission. An understanding has been made between the Madhesi leaders and the PM to take an initiative to correct and endorse the Constitution Amendment Bill from the Parliament, according to a statement issued by the PM’s secretariat. The Himalayan Times, February 4, 2017.

Supreme Court invalidates TRC guidelines: The Supreme Court scrapped the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) guidelines for putting insurgency-era rights violation cases on hold. A division bench of justices Jagadish Sharma Poudel and Dipak Kumar Karki scrapped the TRC guidelines, stating they were against the provision of the TRC Act and Regulations. Nepali Congress leader and General Secretary of Conflict Victims National Society Binaya Dwaj Chand, along with other 15 conflict-victims organisations, had filed a petition against the guidelines on September 26, 2016. The apex court had earlier issued an interim order against the guidelines. The Himalayan Times, February 2, 2017.


PAKISTAN

National Assembly to take up crucial bill aimed at curbing terrorism, extremism: The National Assembly (NA) is set to take up on February 6 (today) an important bill seeking amendments to various laws with an objective of strengthening criminal justice system and enhancing punishment in various offences to effectively curb terrorism and extremism in the country. The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is placed in the name of Federal Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on the agenda issued for the Monday’s session of the NA which will be meeting after a two-day recess. The bill, which has already been passed by the Senate, proposes amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), 1860; the Police Act, 1861; the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898; the Qanoon-i-Shahadat, 1984; the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014; and Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. Dawn, February 6, 2017.

JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed along with 37 others put on ECL: The Federal Ministry of Interior on February 1 placed names of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Chief Hafiz Saeed Ahmed and 37 other individuals on the Exit Control List (ECL). All 30 people who are put on ECL are affiliated with JuD or Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The decision to place Hafiz Saeed on ECL was taken two days after JuD chief and four others were put under house arrest. The Interior Ministry has forwarded a letter to all Provincial Governments and the Federal Investigation Agency, which included names of Hafiz Saeed and 37 other individuals placed on the ECL. The News, February 2, 2017.

JuD chief Hafiz Saeed under house arrest: The Punjab Government on January 30 issued orders to place Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed under house arrest. The Government launched a crackdown against JuD and a heavy contingent of Police was deployed around the JuD headquarter and offices in Muridke and Lahore. “A large police team arrived (at JuD headquarters) and told us that Hafiz would be placed under house arrest,” said the secretary of information for JuD, Nadeem Awan. Awan said the Police told them they had an arrest warrant for Saeed and five others at JuD headquarters. Dawn, January 31, 2017.


SRI LANKA

Government is totally committed to safeguarding national security as well as regional security, says President Maithripala Sirisena: President Maithripala Sirisena speaking as the Chief Guest at a ceremony at Ambepussa town in the Kegalle District on January 30 said the Government is totally committed to safeguarding national security as well as regional security. President Sirisena said