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SAIR Archive            SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW          LATEST ON SATP
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 15, No. 49, June 5, 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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Northeast: Persistent Anxieties
Giriraj Bhattacharjee
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

In the Northeast Security Review meeting, presided over by Union Home Minister (UHM) Rajnath Singh, held at New Delhi on May 16, 2017, security agencies demanded a greater presence of intelligence and Security Force (SF) personnel in five contiguous Districts of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland along the Indo-Myanmar border. An unnamed official who participated in the meeting disclosed, "We have apprised the Home Minister of the security situation in the Northeast and informed him that all militant activities are being controlled from Arunachal's Tirap, Changlang and Longding Districts; and Nagaland's Mon and Tuensang Districts,". During the meeting it was emphasized that these five districts had emerged as the hub of the ‘last remaining militants’ in the Northeast.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), these five Districts have accounted for a total of 310 fatalities (30 civilians, 27 SF personnel, 253 militants) since January 1, 2000, of which at least two (both militants) have been recorded in the current year.

Of these five Districts, Mon accounted for 128 fatalities (six civilians, 13 SF personnel, 109 militants), followed by Tirap with 85 fatalities (one civilian, 11 SF personnel, 73 militants), Tuensung with 61 fatalities (18 civilians, and 43 militants), Changlang with 32 fatalities (five civilians, three SF personnel, 24 militants) and Longding with four fatalities (all militants)

Moreover, nine contiguous Districts – Charaideo (formed on August 15, 2015 by bifurcating Sibsagar), Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Tinsukia, Kiphere, Longleng, Mokukchang and Zunhebato – around these five districts (Arunachal's Tirap, Changlang and Longding; and Nagaland's Mon and Tuensang) together accounted for at least 635 fatalities (257 civilians, 53 SF personnel, 324 militants) since January 1, 2000. Of these 635 fatalities, at least six (two SF personnel and four militants) have been recorded in the current year.

Among these nine Districts, Tinsukia alone accounted for 302 fatalities (147 civilians, 32 SF personnel, 123 militants), followed by Dibrugarh with 116 fatalities (62 civilians, 8 SF personnel, 46 militants), Zunheboto with 88 fatalities (13 civilians, and 75 militants), Sibsagar with 39 fatalities (13 civilians, four  SF personnel, 22 militants),Kiphere accounted for 36 fatalities (seven civilians, five SF personnel, 24 militants), Jorhat with 30 fatalities (12 civilians, four  SF personnel, 14  militants), Mokukchang with 22 fatalities (three civilians and 19 militants), and Longleng with two fatalities (both militants).

Overall fatalities in these 14 Districts, since January 1, 2000, thus total 945 (287 civilians, 80 SF personnel, and 578 militants). Total fatalities in the entire northeast during the same period amounted to 12,400 (5,160 civilians, 1,143 SF personnel, 6,097 militants). These fatalities were reported from over 75 Districts in seven States.

This small region around of 14 Districts that constitute the surviving ‘hub’ of militant activity in the Northeast account for 7.62 per cent of total insurgency-linked fatalities recorded in the seven States of northeast since January 1, 2000.  

The five ‘hub’ Districts - Tirap, Changlang, Longding, Mon and Tuensang Districts – together constitute an area of about 11,601 square kilometres (within a total area of 255,094 square kilometers in the seven insurgency afflicted States of the Northeast) and are sandwiched between the Indian States of Assam and Nagaland and, at the other end, Myanmar. These Districts are strategically important as they facilitate relatively easy infiltration and exfilitration for insurgents operating in the entire northeast from the loosely governed Sagiang Division of neighbouring Myanmar.

These routes have gained enhanced significance for the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I), leading groups behind the militant consortium United National Liberation Front of West East South Asia (UNLFWESA), to mostly to attack the SFs. These routes were traditionally dominated by NSCN-K which has, since its unilateral abrogation of the Cease Fire Agreement on [March 27, 2015] escalated violence against SFs. Further, since coming to power in 2009, the Sheikh Hasina-led Government in Bangladesh has denied safe havens in Bangladesh to Assam-based proscribed groups such as ULFA-I, National Democratic Front of Bodoland-IK Songbijit faction (NDFB-IKS), Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) and others, making them almost exclusively dependent on Myanmar routes.  

According to a February 4, 2017, report, ULFA-I has set up a new ‘general headquarters’ at Hakiyot, a densely forested area of around 25-30 kilometres inside Myanmar, to replace its existing ‘general headquarters’ at Vangi. The Hakiyot camp is located opposite Longding [Arunachal Pradesh] and Mon [Nagaland] Districts. The ULFA-I camp was established after the militant Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Myanmar set a deadline for the outfit to remove its camps from Vangi in the Yunnan province of China, along the Sino-Myanmar frontier. The ULFA-I has now shifted from Arunachal's Changlang and Tirap Districts to Longding, and its cadres now cross over to Longding either directly from Myanmar or through Mon, entering Assam either from Longding into Charaideo and Sivasagar Districts or through other eastern Arunachal Districts. [KIA is the ‘military wing’ of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), a ‘political group’ representing ethnic Kachin fighting the Myanmarese Government in northern Myanmar.]

Governments – both at the respective State and central levels – are now planning to concentrate more on these areas for further improvement in the security situation in the northeast.

On March 9, 2017, Arunachal Pradesh Home Minister Kumar Waii disclosed to the State Assembly that the State Government has appointed 1,570 Police personnel, out of 1,949 sanctioned posts, under the Centre's special package for insurgency-hit Tirap, Changlang and Longding Districts. A total of 36 sub-inspectors, 1,530 constables, three head constables (traffic) and one carrier were appointed under the special package. "These posts were sanctioned for opening 11 new Police Stations and upgradation of nine existing Police Stations in the Districts," Waii stated, adding that recruitment for the remaining 379 vacant posts would be carried out ‘soon’. Earlier, on February 20, 2017, UHM Rajnath Singh, while announcing a special package for the three Districts, had noted, “The special package for Tirap, Changlang and Longding Districts will also include creation of new posts, purchase of vehicles and equipment for Police,”

There is also a proposal to include the three Arunachal Districts into the fold of the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution. On March 7, 2017, Chief Minister Prema Khandu, in response to a question asked by former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, informed the State Assembly that the State Government would write to the Centre to expedite the process of the creation of the Autonomous District Councils of Tirap, Changlang and Longding. It is pertinent to recall that, the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution on February 16, 2004, that Arunachal Pradesh should be included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India to enable creation of Autonomous District Councils. It passed similar resolutions in 2007 and 2012 as well. Subsequently, on December 11, 2013, the State Cabinet approved the taking up of a proposal for the creation of Autonomous District Councils with Government of India as per the State Assembly resolution. Nocte, Wancho, Tangsa, Tutsa and Ollo are the principal tribal groups that inhabit these Districts. Presently, the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution apply to the administration of the tribal dominated areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. Since the late 1990’s, there has been a demand for the formation of a separate Union Territory comprising Tirap and Changlang.

On March 18, 2016, the Nagaland Assembly passed the Nagaland Backward Tribes Commission Bill 2016, to establish a commission for backward tribes in the State to safeguard their rights. The Commission is intended to focus on the six backward tribes of Eastern Nagaland. The undivided District of Tuensung [now consisting of Mon, Longleng and Kiphere, besides the parent Tuensung District], which is inhabited mainly by the Chang, the Konyak, Sangtam, Khiamniungan, Yimchungru and Phom tribes, remain backward on most socio-economic indices.

The insurgency in the Northeast has witnessed a tremendous decline, with overall fatalities falling to 160 in 2016, the lowest since 1992. The reasons range from divisions within the ranks of militant groups, loss of Bhutan and Bangladesh as militant sanctuaries, and progressive negotiations between the Government and many of the active extremist formations in the region. However, major insurgent groups including ULFA-I, NDFB-IKS, and NSCN-K continue to operate from Myanmar. Further, the ‘unification’ of these militant groups under the UNLFWESA banner is a cause for concern, particularly in view of the porous Indo-Myanmar border which facilitates their operations. It is, consequently, crucial that these border areas, which lack even basic infrastructure like roads, are strategically developed both for the economic well being of the population, as well as the efficiency of security deployments and systems, so that these frontiers are better protected. 

NEPAL
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Guarded Progress
S. Binodkumar Singh
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

On May 14, 2017, after an interregnum of 20 years, the first round of local level elections were conducted in 34 Districts of Province Nos. 3, 4 and 6, to elect representatives in 283 local level institutions, including four metropolitan cities, one sub-metropolitan city, 92 municipalities and 186 rural municipalities. 71 per cent voters took part in these elections. The last local elections in Nepal were held in May 1997.

Notwithstanding a few incidents of disruption and violence in some Districts, voting concluded peacefully and in a free and fair manner. One Nepali Congress (NC) cadre died in Police firing during a clash with cadres of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), in the Melung Rural Municipality of Dolakha District. Another person was killed in Police firing when cadres of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) tried to capture ballot boxes in the Naraharinath Rural Municipality of Kalikot District; three others were injured in the incident. Separately, a CPN-UML activist was beaten to death with a stick inside an under-construction house in the Pipalbhanjyang area of Dhading District. In the meantime, in the Nilkantha Municipality of Dhading District, four persons were injured in a clash between NC and CPN-UML activists.

The second phase of local level elections for the remaining 41 Districts in Provinces 1, 2, 5 and 7 was supposed to be held on June 14, 2017, after the number of local levels in the Tarai region had been revised. However, discussions between Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and leaders of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), at the former's official residence in Kathmandu on May 15, 2017, resulted in a stalemate, as RJPN leaders argued that the party could not participate in the second phase of elections unless their demands were addressed. RJPN was formed on April 20, 2017, by merging six prominent Madhesi parties, including the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP), Sadbhavana Party (SP), National Madhes Socialist Party (NMSP), Madhesi People's Rights Forum-Republican (MPRF-R), Tarai Madhes Sadhbhavana Party (TMSP) and Federal Sadhbhavana Party (FSP), The Madhesi parties have been demanding an amendment to the Constitution adopted on September 20, 2015, changing the demarcation of Districts and constituencies before the holding of local level elections.

Once again, on May 17, 2017, RJPN leaders met Prime Minister Dahal and NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba separately and urged them to create a conducive environment for the second phase of local polls. Accusing the Government of not showing sufficient sincerity in the fulfillment of their demands, RJPN announced a boycott of the second phase of the local polls on May 26, 2017. The party also unveiled a series of protest programs with the aim to disrupt the polls slated for June 14. Frustrated, the cadres of RJPN staged a baton rally at Gaur of Rautahat District on May 28, 2017, to protest the scheduled second round, claiming that the local bodies had not been formed in proportion to the ethnic division of populations and the Constitution needed to be amended.

Meanwhile, speaking at the anniversary celebration programme of Janakpur, the capital of Dhanusa District on May 21, 2017, Prime Minister Dahal noted “The Constitution has institutionalized many achievements of past political struggles. There are still some issues to be addressed, and successfully conducting the local level election is the current struggle. As the first phase of local polls has gone well, it’s now the duty of all forces that support and seek change to ensure that the second phase is also held successfully.” On the same day, Prime Minister Dahal talking to media persons in Janakpur, observed that the elections in Madhes would be like a festival, as more votes would be cast in Madhes as compared to the Hill areas, as the Madhesi people were eager to participate in the elections. The Prime Minister also gave an assurance that the elections would address some of the demands of the Madhes people, while other demands would be addressed through constitutional amendments.

Significantly, a Cabinet meeting held at Prime Minister Dahal’s residence in Baluwatar, Kathmandu, on May 23, 2017, decided to increase the number of local levels in the Tarai region by 22. The Cabinet decided to increase three local levels each in Sarlahi, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi and Kapilvastu; two each in Sunsari and Rautahat; and one each in Saptari, Parsa, Dhanusha, Bara, Kailali and Banke Districts. With this, the total number of local levels in the country reached 766 (existing 744 + newly created 22). The Cabinet also decided to upgrade Biratnagar and Birgunj sub-metropolitan cities to metropolitan cities, and to designate 24 rural municipalities as municipalities. Among the rural municipalities that were upgraded, 11 were in Rautahat; three in Mahottari; two each in Jhapa, Rupandehi and Banke; and one each in Siraha, Dhanusha, Bara and Kailali Districts.

On May 29, 2017, in an effort to bring the Madhes-based parties on board, the Government re-scheduled the local polls to June 23, 2017. However, on May 30, 2017, the representatives of the Muslim community submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Dahal demanding to reconsider the rescheduled date of the second round, as the Muslim’s festival of Eid ul Fitr was falling on the election date. Consequently, the Government rescheduled the second phase to June 28, 2017.

However, the main opposition party, the CPN-UML, in a Press Release issued after the meeting of the party’s standing committee on May 17, 2017, urged the Government and the Election Commission (EC) to promptly hold the second round of polls. The party further stated that the proposed amendments to the Constitution were not acceptable, and that changes in the local bodies would certainly create confusion. Further, CPN-UML obstructed proceedings in Parliament on May 26, 2017, demanding that the Government roll back its decision to add 22 local levels in the Tarai Districts. Once again, on May 31 and June 1, 2017, CPN-UML obstructed parliamentary proceedings, demanding the vote count for Bharatpur Metropolitan City in Chitwan District be resumed at the earliest. On May 29, 2017, the District Election Office, Chitwan had halted the count shortly after cadres of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-Maoist Centre) deputed to assist the count tore up ballot papers. Later, Chief Returning Officer Kabi Prasad Neupane found that, of the 2,897 votes cast in Ward Number 19, as many as 1,809 votes had already been counted. 998 papers had been torn in such a way that they could not be counted. 90 were found to have been completely destroyed.

Separately, arguing that the haphazard creation of more local units could collapse the federal set up and prompt provincial and central Governments to withdraw rights given to local units, Balananda Paudel, Coordinator of the Local Body Restructuring Commission (LBRC) warned, on May 25, 2017, “More local units mean more burden on taxpayers as they have to pay more tax for local governments. Similarly, while local governments are becoming unfeasible as their resources are limited, local governments in small area become less efficient as they cannot gain economy of scale in service delivery.” The Commission had recommended that the Government form 719 units, as against the 744 established.

In the meantime, in a crucial development signaling an emerging maturity in Nepalese politics, there was a change of guard at Kathmandu. As per the “gentleman’s agreement” between the NC and CPN-Maoist Centre before the formation of the Coalition Government in August 2016, Prime Minister Dahal announced his resignation from the Premiership on May 24, 2017, paving the way for the election of a new NC Prime Minister. On June 3, 2017, proposed by Dahal, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba filed his nomination at the Parliament Secretariat for the post of Prime Minister. His candidacy was supported by NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel, Nepal Democratic Forum Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, Prem Bahadur Singh of Samajbadi Janata Party, Kumar Khadka of Akhanda Nepal Party and Jayadev Joshi of CPN-United. The election for the new Prime Minister was supposed to take place in the Parliament at 11:00 am on June 4, 2017, but this did not happen, as Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar adjourned the House till 1:00pm of June 6, 2017, as the main opposition party, CPN-UML, which has been stalling House proceedings over the Bharatpur vote counting, sought two days for a negotiated settlement.

It is to Dahal’s credit that he successfully conducted the first phase of local elections on May 14, despite multiple hiccups and hurdles. Though this is just the beginning, the completion of the first phase after two decades without elections, put an end to the uncertainty surrounding the three tier elections that are to be concluded within the stipulated date of January 21, 2018, and the implementation of the new Constitution before the transformed Parliament automatically dissolves after this deadline.

Nevertheless, CPN-UML, which is seeking to consolidate its ultra-nationalist image, is bound to oppose the Constitution Amendment Bill ceding the Madhesi demands, and can be expected to play the spoil sport; blocking Government attempts to reorganize grassroots units in the Tarai region in proportion to the population. While there are some positives in Nepal’s politics, the fractious relations of the past are far from settled.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
May 29- June 4, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

BANGLADEH

 

Islamist Terrorism

0
0
1
1

Left-wing Extremism

0
0
2
2

BANGLADESH (Total)

5
0
3
3

INDIA

 

Jammu and Kashmir

0
2
6
8

Manipur

0
0
1
1

Nagaland

1
0
0
1

Left-Wing Extremism

 

Chhattisgarh

0
0
1
1

Odisha

0
1
1
2

Total (INDIA)

1
3
9
13

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

2
1
12
15

KP

5
0
0
5

Total (PAKISTAN)

7
1
12
20
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


BANGLADESH

Prime Minister urges expatriate Bangladeshis to expose brutal face of BNP and JeI: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressing a community reception accorded to her by expatriate Bangladeshis at a hotel at the Austrian capital Vienna on May 29 urged the expatriate Bangladeshis living in Europe to expose the brutal face of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) beyond the country. Pointing out the atrocities of BNP and JeI across the country during the year from 2013 to 2015 the Prime Minister said BNP and JeI are lobbying with the public representatives of western countries against the Government on the issue of legal suits filed against them for killing innocent people and rampage.  New Age, May 31, 2017.


INDIA

Number of J&K youths joining militancy has doubled, says intelligence report: The number of local Kashmiri youths recruited by terror groups in the Valley in the first five months this year (2017) alone has more than doubled as compared to the whole of 2016, intelligence agencies cautioned the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) on June 2. This comes a day after Union Home Minister (UHM) Rajnath Singh said that infiltration of militants from Pakistan has dropped following the Army’s surgical strikes against terror launchpads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in September last year. Asian Age, June 3, 2017.

Hawala money also pumped from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka into Jammu and Kashmir, says reports: It was not only Pakistan which pumped hawala (illegal money transfer) money running into crores in Kashmir but the illegal funds were also reported to have been routed in the Valley from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Some cross-LoC (Line of Control) traders were also reported to have funded the separatists and Over Ground Workers (OGWs) through the “extra money” sent to them from Pakistan under the garb of trade. Daily Excelsior, May 31, 2017.

Insurgency in NE declining fast, says Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh: Union Home Minister (UHM) Rajnath Singh, on June 3, said year 2016 witnessed the lowest number of insurgency-related incidents in last 20 years. “The year 2016 witnessed the lowest insurgency incidents in last 20 years. Such incidents reduced from 824 in 2014 to 484 in 2016. The number of incidents was 574 in 2015, which was the lowest since 1997, and further reduced in 2016. The number of civilian casualties in Northeast has also come down drastically in the last three years,” said UHM Singh in New Delhi. The Sentinel, June 4, 2017.

NSCN-IM alludes to 'sovereign rights' in Framework Agreement: In a statement on June 2, the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) claimed that with the signing of the Framework Agreement between the Government of India (GoI) and the NSCN-IM on August 3, 2015, the GoI has recognised ‘the sovereign rights of the Nagas’. The statement further pointed out that the Framework Agreement (FA) was political in nature and a preamble for a detailed final political agreement which was expected to be completed and signed very soon between the two sides. Nagaland Post, June 3, 2017.


PAKISTAN

Twelve suspected IS militants killed in Balochistan: Security Forces (SFs) on June 3 killed at least 12 suspected Islamic State militants (IS) after three days of search operation to recover abducted Chinese nationals in Mastung District of Balochistan. “Some 12-13 IS commanders have been killed after intense gun-battles and the area was cleared late Saturday,” a senior security official said, but added that the Chinese pair were not recovered from the scene despite the presence of the vehicle used in their kidnapping nearby. The Chinese couple was abducted from the Jinnah Town area of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, in the afternoon of May 24. Daily Times, June 5, 2017.

Banned outfits start collecting 'jihad' donations in provinces: Banned outfits allegedly supporting those who’re fighting in Afghanistan and other regions, have once again started collecting donations in areas across the country. According to a BBC Urdu report, banned organisations have circulated videos and brochures, asking people to help the mujahidin. One of the videos, which have apparently been shot in a mosque of a far flung area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, invites people for jihad and helping Afghan fighters. Similarly, a letter circulating on social media appeals the people to help the Taliban in Afghanistan. Tribune, June 3, 2017.

41 Banned outfits of Pakistan operate openly on Facebook: Around 41 banned outfits of Pakistan operate openly on Facebook. Activity of 41 sectarian, terrorist, anti-state organisations is accessible to every user on the social network. They exist in plain sight, just one search and one click away from any of Pakistan’s 25 million Facebook users. An investigation carried out by Dawn across the month of April 2017 has revealed that 41 of Pakistan’s 64 banned outfits are present on