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SAIR Archive            SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW          LATEST ON SATP
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 15, No. 48, May 29, 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
PAKISTAN
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J&K: Turbulence by Design
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

The Security Forces (SFs) killed eight terrorists, including Hizb-ul-Mujahideen's (HM) incumbent ‘Kashmir Commander' Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, in two separate encounters in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on May 27, 2017. In the first encounter, SFs killed six terrorists along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Rampur sector of Baramulla District. In another encounter the same day, SFs eliminated Sabzar Ahmad Bhat along with another HM terrorist in the Tral Area of Pulwama District. Further, on May 28, Army shot dead a militant along the LoC in Poonch District. Earlier, on May 26, 2017, the Army foiled a Pakistan Army Border Action Team (BAT) attack along the LoC in the Uri sector of Baramulla District, killing two BAT personnel. According to reports, the BAT team had penetrated 400 metres beyond the LoC. During the course of the week, between May 20 and May 27, 2017, the SFs eliminated at least 13 terrorists in J&K.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 60 terrorists have already been killed during the first four months and 28 days of the current year (data till May 28, 2017). During the corresponding period of the previous year, SFs had eliminated 53 terrorists. Significantly, this is the highest number of terrorists killed in this period (the first four months and 28 days of the year) since 2010, when at least 115 terrorists were killed in this interregnum.

SFs have upped the ante against the terrorists after suffering increasing losses through 2016, more so in the second half of the year, as well as in the current year. The 88 SF fatalities recorded in 2016 were the highest in this category, on year on year basis, since 2009, when 90 personnel were killed. SFs have already lost 25 personnel in the current year, thus far. During the corresponding period of 2016, fatalities in this category stood at 15. It was way back in 2010 that the SFs had lost a higher number of personnel, 37, during the same period (the first four months and 28 days of the year).

The increased engagement between SFs and terrorists on the ground is indicative of the deteriorating situation in the State in evidence since the second half of 2016. J&K has already recorded 25 fatalities among civilians, the highest number during this period since 2008, at 26. It is pertinent, however, that despite the surge in overall fatalities, as compared to 2015, 2016 recorded the lowest number of civilian fatalities, 14, since the insurgency began in 1998. Nine of 14 civilian fatalities recorded in 2016 were in the second half of the year, as were 58 of the total 88 SF fatalities.

The killing of the HM 'commander' Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8, 2016, and the subsequent orchestration of street violence – backed by Pakistan-based terrorist formations and covert Pakistani support – has had a cascading effect on the State. Flawed policies and the abject failure of the state in controlling the spiraling violence have created ample opportunities for inimical forces to broaden radical and extremist mobilization and violence. According the State Police Crime Branch data, 3,404 cases of rioting were recorded in 2016, as compared to 1,157 such cases in 2015, an increase of 194.2 per cent. As SAIR has highlighted earlier, such 'uprisings' have had direct Pakistani support in the past, and similar connections and connotations are in evidence in the present cycle of mobilization. Indeed, according to a release dated May 19, 2017, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered a preliminary inquiry into the Pakistani role, noting:
National Investigation Agency has registered a PE (Preliminary Enquiry) into the funding of Hurriyat leaders, namely Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Naeem Khan, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Gazi Javed Baba and others in J&K by Hafiz Muhammed Saeed and other Pakistan based terrorists and agencies to carry out subversive activities in Kashmir and for damaging public property, stone pelting on the security forces, burning of schools and other Government establishments. The NIA has also taken cognizance of the news item related to the recording of conversations between the reporter and leaders of the separatist groups operating in Kashmir valley, by India Today TV, on 16.05.2017 in this regard.

According to a March 29, 2017, report, some fugitive stone pelters identified as Zakir Ahmad Bhat, Farooq Ahmad Lone, Wasim Ahmed Khan, Mushtaq Veeri and Ibrahim Khan made some startling confessions – from being on the payroll of their underground masters to carry out deadly attacks on security forces, public servants and property in the troubled region – in their conversations with India Today TV’s ‘undercover’ reporters. "It's Rs 5,000-Rs 7,000 (a month) and clothes. Sometimes shoes as well," Bhat said in the sting tapes, when asked whether he was paid to pelt stones at SF personnel. He, however, did not disclose the identity of his financers: "We will die but won't reveal their names. It's the question of our bread and butter."

Terror funding from Pakistan has also been highlighted on numerous occasions in the past. Most recently, for instance, a Government of India release stated,
The Central Government had received information about illegal transfer of funds from Pakistan to India through import of California Almonds via cross-LOC mechanisms through Trade Facilitation Centers (TFC) in Jammu and Kashmir. Keeping in view the gravity of the matter the Central Government directed the NIA to take up investigation of this case. The NIA has registered the case as RC-17/2016/NIA/DLI on 16.12.2016.

Meanwhile, according to data provided by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), at least 88 local youth joined terrorism in 2016, mostly after the Burhan Wani killing. According to media reports, another 16 local youth have joined terrorism in the current year. Wani was the man responsible for reversing the declining trend of local recruitment in the Valley. According to UMHA data, the number of locals joining militancy had declined from 54 in 2010 to 23 in 2011 further down to 21 in 2012 and just 16 in 2013. In 2014, the number of locals joining militancy increased to 53 and reached at 66 in 2015.

Having succeeded to an extent in fuelling fire in the State with the support of its cohorts within India, Islamabad simultaneously increased its activities along the LoC and International Border (IB). According to UMHA data, there were at least 371 infiltration attempts by the terrorists trained by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) from across the border in 2016, as against 121 such attempts through 2015, a more than threefold increase. Such attempts had declined sharply in 2015, in comparison to 2014, when there were 222. There have been 47 such attempts in 2017, thus far. The number of terrorists who were forced to return to the Pakistani side rose to 217 in 2016, as against 41 in 2015.  More worryingly, there were at least 119 estimated net (successful) infiltrations recorded through 2016, as against 33 in 2015. These infiltration attempts most often occur under cover firing by Pakistan Rangers or Army personnel. UMHA data also indicates a continuing increase in the number of ceasefire violations by Pakistan, at 449 in 2016, as against 405 in 2015.

Not surprisingly, the estimated number of active terrorists in the State has increased. According to varying media reports, there are presently an estimated 500-plus active terrorists in the State – 320 locals and 180 foreigners; as against about 179 – 143 locals and 36 foreigners – prior to Wani’s killing in July 2016.

Despite the deterioration consequent upon these various factors, there are some early signs of improvement in the law and order situation in the State. According to the Month-wise details of Law & Order incidents since July 8, 2016, provided by UMHA, the number of such incidents has declined considerably.

Month

July, 2016
August, 2016
September, 2016
October, 2016
November, 2016
December, 2016
January, 2017
February, 2017
March, 2017

No. of incidents

820
747
535
179
73
36
05
49
27

According to partial data compiled by the SATP, the number of such incidents declined further to 22 in April 2017, though May registered a spike, at 41. Nevertheless, the situation appears to be coming under reasonable control in comparison to earlier months. 

For the time being SFs have done their bit in restoring the law and order in the State, as expected, despite tremendous odds – both at the operational and at the political leadership level. Sustaining such improvement, however, lies entirely in the hands of the political class, both at the Centre and in the State. Unfortunately, there is little evidence of the necessary political sagacity needed to bring J&K out of its orchestrated turbulence and restore it on the trajectory to the greater stabilization that was visible in before the present cycle of disturbances. 

INDIA
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Jharkhand: Internecine Carnage
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On May 21, 2017, seven cadres of the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC), a splinter group of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), were killed in an exchange of fire between two of its own factions in the Keredari area of Hazaribagh District. Three of the slain cadres were identified as TPC ‘zonal commander’ Sagar Ganzu, ‘area commander’ Manish Mahato and ‘commander’ Jhonson. One severed head recovered from the spot is yet to be identified. The remaining three bodies were taken away by the rebels. The Police team recovered some empty cartridges, Naxal [Left-Wing Extremism (LWE)] uniforms, a blood-stained carpet and other items from the spot. Bhimsen Tuti, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), North Chhotanagpur Division, disclosed that the group fought following a dispute on the sharing of money extorted from construction companies.

On April 17, 2017, a villager, Shiv Nath Yadav (55), and his son, Guddu Yadav (28), were killed by over 20 armed CPI-Maoist cadres at village Kulheya under Harihurganj Police Station in Palamu District. The two were suspected by CPI-Maoist cadres to be TPC supporters.

On March 24, 2017, three TPC cadres were killed in an internecine clash at Seeta Chuan under the Mohammadganj Police Station in Palamau District. One of the dead was identified as ‘zonal commander’ Ajay Yadav, carried a reward of INR 500,000 on his head. The other two were identified as ‘area commanders’ Krishna Kharwar and Ravindra Mahto. Police recovered one AK-47 rifle, one INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) assault rifle, one semi automatic rifle, one .303 rifle, along with 630 live bullets, 23 magazines, 11 cell phones, several Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), 50 meters of Codex wire, and six back packs.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), out of a total of 15 LWEs killed during the current year, at least 13 were killed in fratricidal incidents (data till May 28, 2017). During the corresponding period of 2016, out of a total of 14 LWEs killed, at least six deaths occurred in such incidents. Through 2016, fratricidal incidents were responsible for 18 out of a total of 40 LWE cadre deaths.

Indeed, since 2010 in Jharkhand fratricidal killings have been a major trend. Out of a total of 309 LWE fatalities, at least 133 were killed in such incidents, a staggering 43.04 per cent. More worryingly, the number of such killings witnessed a surge in 2016, even as the overall percentage also increased – accounting for 29.72 per cent in 2015, 45.0 per cent in 2016, and 86.66 per cent in 2017 (data till May 28).

These internecine clashes have also affected the overall LWE situation in the State. According to the SATP database, there were a total of 35 deaths [18 civilians, two Security Force (SF) personnel, and 15 LWEs] in LWE-violence related deaths in the current year, as compared to 33 (nine civilians, seven SF personnel, and 17 LWEs) during the corresponding period of the previous year. Overall fatalities in such violence stood at 81 (31 civilians, 10 SF personnel, and 40 LWEs) through 2016, as compared to 58 (16 civilians, five SF personnel, and 37 LWEs) in 2015, an increase of 39.65 per cent.

Significantly, civilian fatalities, which had declined considerably from 48 in 2014 to an all time low of 16 in 2015, almost doubled and at 31 in 2016. During the first four months and 26 days of the current year, the State has already recorded 18 civilian deaths in such violence. Significantly, splinter groups of the CPI-Maoist have been responsible for the larger proportion of this increase, rather than the parent formation. While all 16 civilians’ fatalities were inflicted by CPI-Maoist cadres in 2015, splinter groups were responsible for 18 of 31 civilian deaths recorded in 2016, while 13 were killed by CPI-Maoist cadres. In the current year, splinter groups have already killed five of the 18 civilian victims of such violence.   

Civilian Fatalities in LWE Violence in Jharkhand 2010-2017*

Year

Civilians killed by CPI-Maoist (1)
Civilians killed by splinter groups (2)
Total Civilians killed by LWEs (1+2)4

2010

55
16
71

2011

58
21
79

2012

25
23
48

2013

26
22
48

2014

30
18
48

2015

16
0
16

2016

13
18
31

2016

13
5
18

Total

236
123
359
Source: SATP, *Data till May 28, 2017.

Moreover, out of 18 major incidents (each involving three or more killings) of civilian killings recorded in the State since 2010, splinter groups have been responsible for at least seven. The most prominent among those included:

September 26, 2016: Three persons were killed and four were injured when People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI, a CPI-Maoist splinter) cadres, opened random fire at a gathering in a village in Khunti District.

March 17, 2016: At least four persons working on a road construction site were killed allegedly by PLFI cadres in a village under the Basia Police Station limits of Gumla District.

November 3, 2014: Suspected PLFI cadres gunned down seven persons, reportedly members of Shanti Sena, a local outfit formed to maintain peace and brotherhood in Gumla District.

May 16, 2011: Four persons of a family were killed by PLFI cadres at Dakeya village in Okba panchayat (village level local self government institution) under Basia Police Station in Gumla District. The PLFI cadres tied their hands and took them to Karisokra Forest where their throats were slit.

There are around 19 LWE groups operating in the State, including CPI-Maoist, PLFI, TPC, Tritiya Prastuti Committee-1 (TPC-1), a breakaway group of TPC, Jharkhand Janmukti Parishad (JJMP), Jharkhand Sangharsh Jan Mukti Morcha (JSJMM), and Jharkhand Prastuti Committee (JPC). PLFI is among the largest splinter groups of CPI-Maoist in Jharkhand. A group of dissidents claimed that the Maoists were unfair to cadres, and had parted ways to form the PLFI in 2006. Likewise, TPC was formed in 2002 after a number of CPI-Maoist cadres had walked out of their parent outfit complaining of the domination of the Yadav caste in the decision-making process of CPI-Maoist.

Among all these splinter groups PLFI is the biggest threat. Indeed, subsequent to the encounter on November 29, 2016, in which the founder and chief of PLFI, Dinesh Gope, was injured on Pangur-Bintuka road in Simdega District, Superintendent of Police (SP), Rajiv Ranjan Singh, on December 1, 2016, observed, "PLFI is one among the last LWE groups active in the region and the Tuesday (November 29, 2016) encounter comes as a huge blow to their morale here (in Simdega)."

At a time when LWE violence in the State is witnessing a surge, with the major group, CPI-Maoist, also escalating activities, the menace of splinter groups and the resultant turf-war are alarming. Meanwhile, in a major blow to the CPI-Maoist, on May 14, 2017, the group’s Jharkhand 'regional committee secretary', Kundan Pahan, surrendered before the Police in Ranchi District. Pahan carried a reward of INR 1.5 million on his head and was facing a total of 128 cases.

State Chief Minister Raghubar Das called for more sharing of intelligence among LWE-affected States at the meeting between the Centre and the States affected by Left-Wing Extremism in New Delhi on May 8, 2017. Detailing the challenges before Jharkhand, Das further noted that the Government had mounted pressure on the Maoists and their splinter proliferating splinters. This is an objective that must be sustained with continuous operational pressures to ensure that Jharkhand, for along among the worst LWE afflicted States, does not see a resurgence of Maoist violence and the vicious trend of extortion and criminality by proliferating splinter formations.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
May 22-28, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

INDIA

 

Assam

0
0
1
1

Jammu and Kashmir

2
0
10
12

Manipur

1
0
0
1

Left-Wing Extremism

 

Chhattisgarh

1
0
0
1

Jharkhand

1
0
0
1

Total (INDIA)

5
0
11
16

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

1
0
1
2

FATA

4
1
3
8

Sindh

0
0
1
1

Total (PAKISTAN)

5
1
5
11
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


BANGLADESH

Statue of Lady Justice on SC premises removed: The Supreme Court (SC) authorities removed the Statue of the Lady Justice on the SC premises on May 26 amid protests. Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the Chief Justice SK Sinha had a meeting with the incumbent and former Presidents and General Secretaries of the Supreme Court Bar Association, including eminent jurist Dr Kamal Hossain. At the meeting, the Chief Justice sought their opinion about removing the statue. The Daily Star, May 27, 2017.


INDIA

21 LeT terrorists preparing for 'big terror attack' in India, says report: A group of 20-21 terrorists of terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) entered into India and are preparing to launch a terror attack. Central intelligence agencies have warned anti-terror units in cities in this regard. The terrorists have entered into India on the orders of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Some have gone to Mumbai and Delhi, and the rest to Punjab and Rajasthan. In the wake of the threat, the agency has issued an alert and advisory to all units of the Delhi Police. Zee News, May 27, 2017.

Close watch on terror funding in Jammu and Kashmir, says UHMA: The Central Government on May 25 said it is keeping a close watch on illegal flow of funds to fuel militancy in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and action is being taken by security agencies in such instances. “All terror related incidents, including terror funding, are being monitored by the agencies. Appropriate action is also being taken”, spokesperson in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) Ashok Prasad said. He was replying to a question on Pakistan’s continuous attempts to fund militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. Daily Excelsior, May 26, 2017.

My government supports Indo-Naga peace process, says Manipur Chief Minister: Manipur Chief Minister (CM) N. Biren Singh on May 22 asserted that his Government supported the Indo-Naga peace process and urged the people to ‘stay together’. CM Biren Singh made the statement while addressing the inaugural programme of two-day Barak Spring Festival at Senapati town organized by Naga people’s organization (NPO). Nagaland Post , May 23, 2017. 


NEPAL

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal announces resignation while addressing nation: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal in a 29-minute televised address from Singhadarbar in Kathmandu on May 24 announced his resignation from the premiership. Dahal added that he decided to resign from the premiership as per the “gentleman agreement” that was reached with the Nepali Congress (NC) before the formation of the Coalition Government in August 2016. Praising his 295-day long tenure, Dahal highlighted his exemplary step to successfully conclude the first phase of local level elections in Provinces 3, 4 and 6. The Himalayan Times, May 25, 2017.


PAKISTAN

Religious scholars issue unanimous fatwa declaring suicide attacks Haram: Religious scholars from all schools of thought on May 27 issued a fatwa (religious decree) that declared suicide attacks, armed insurgency against a state and use of force in the name of imposing Shariah as ‘Haram’ or forbidden in Islam. The fatwa carrying signatures of 31 noted scholars was released at a seminar “'Reconstruction of Pakistani society in the light of 'Mithaq-e-Madina' (Charter of Madina) and announcement of 'Paigham-e-Pakistan' (Message of Pakistan). The event was organised by the Islamic Research Institute of the International Islamic University Islamabad. The News, May 29, 2017.

5,700 people killed in terror attacks in FATA during last six years: More than 5,700 people, including paramilitary force officials, have lost their lives in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in terrorist attacks during the last six years, Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) figure reveals. The Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) revealed this figure during the recently-concluded 42nd session of the National Assembly in a written response to a query by lawmaker Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party. According to surveys conducted by the Ministry to assess losses sustained as a result of the ongoing war on terrorism, 5,740 people have been killed in the last six years and an estimated 80,000 houses damaged of which the Government had validated 22,471 for compensation. 50,000 killed, USD 80 billion loss incurred in war on terror, NA told. Tribune, May 29, 2017.

Pakistan's 'war on terror' cost down 40 per cent to USD 3.9 billion: Pakistan has cut direct and indirect losses to its economy on account of terrorism by slightly above 40 per cent to USD 3.9 billion (PKR 407.21 billion) in the first nine months of this fiscal year. Economic Survey 2016-17 attributes this to an improving security condition in the wake of ongoing military-led counterterrorism operations in the nation’s tribal regions and elsewhere. The latest survey, which has recorded the losses to the national economy under the chapter ‘Impact of War in Afghanistan and Ensuing Terrorism on Pakistan’s Economy’, shows that the losses to the economy are steadily decreasing since FY12 when they hit a peak of USD 23.77bn the