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SAIR Archive            SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW          LATEST ON SATP
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 16, No. 13, September 25, 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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Chhattisgarh: Insecure in Sukma
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On September 21, 2017, Security Forces (SFs) killed an ‘area commander’ of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), identified as Podiyam Bheema, during an encounter in the forests between Pidmel and Palamdgu villages under Polampalli Police Station limits in Sukma District. SFs later recovered the dead body of the slain Maoist along with three country-made firearms, explosives and other materials. The slain Maoist was handling operations in at least 10 villages in the area.

On September 18, 2017, two CPI-Maoist cadres were killed in an encounter in the Rasantong forest area of Sukma District. The encounter ensued when SFs on a search operation were fired upon by the Maoists. SFs later recovered two guns, 13 detonators, a radio set, a wireless set, codex wire, batteries, solar plates and some other material from the encounter site.

On August 13, 2017, SFs killed two Maoists, including a ‘deputy platoon commander’ identified as Podiyam Sunna, during an exchange of fire between Maoists and the SFs under the Kistaram Police Station in Sukma District. SFs also recovered a gun and a country-made pistol from the spot.

On June 24, 2017, a CPI-Maoist 'commander', identified as Korsa Mahesh, was killed in an encounter in the Tondamarka Forest area of Sukma District. The slain Maoist carried a reward of INR 800,000 on his head.

On April 24, 2017, a Maoist cadre was killed in the Burkapal area of Kalapattar in Sukma District.

On January 27, 2017, a Maoist cadre was killed in an exchange of fire with SFs in a dense patch of forest under Fulbagdi Police Station limits in Sukma District. SFs recovered one .303 rifle from the encounter site.

These eight fatalities among Maoists have been recorded in Sukma District in the current year, thus far (data till September 24, 2017). On the other hand, SFs have lost at least 41 of their own personnel in four incidents. With this, the Maoists have managed to restore their dominance, registering a staggering 1:5.12 kill ratio in their favour in the current year, after conceding their superiority marginally in 2015 and to a large extent through 2016. During the corresponding period of the previous year, SFs had eliminated at least 21 Maoists while suffering 10 losses, yielding a positive kill ratio of 1:21. Through 2016, the ratio was 1:3.54 in favour of the SFs. The ratio stood at 1:1.07, marginally in favour of SFs in 2015.

Fatalities in Sukma District and Chhattisgarh: 2012*- 2017**

Year

Sukma
Chhattisgarh
Sukma's share in % of Total killing
Civilians
SFs
Maoists
Total
Civilians
SFs
Maoists
Total

2012

6
8
2
16
26
36
46
108
14.81

2013

26
18
12
56
48
45
35
128
43.75

2014

3
35
3
41
25
55
33
113
36.28

2015

9
13
14
36
34
41
45
120
30

2016

10
11
39
60
38
36
133
207
28.98

2017

4
41
8
53
21
56
57
134
39.55

Total

58
126
78
262
192
269
349
810
32.34
Source: SATP, *Data till September 24, 2016.
* Sukma carved out of Dantewada on January 16, 2012.

Since its formation on January 16, 2012, the Sukma District has recorded more SF losses – 126 – as compared to the Maoists, at 78, establishing a kill ratio of 1:1.61 in favour of the Maoists. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database, Sukma is one of seven Districts (among 28 from where fatalities among both SFs and Maoists have been reported since January 16, 2012) in which SFs have suffered greater losses as compared to the Maoists. Moreover, Sukma has recorded the maximum number of SF fatalities, at 126, for any District across India, since January 16, 2012; with Bijapur, also in Chhattisgarh, standing a distant second, with 52; followed by Gadchiroli in Maharashtra with 39 fatalities.

Significantly, the worst ever attack by the Maoists targeting SFs, across all Maoist affected regions in India, had taken place at Tarmetla village near Chintalnad under the Konta Block, one of the seven Blocks of the undivided Dantewada District, which is now among one of the three tehsils (revenue units) of Sukma District. The incident in which 75 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and one State Policeman were killed occurred on April 6, 2010.

Incidentally, the two worst attacks targeting SFs in the current year across all Maoist affected regions in India, were carried out in Sukma. On April 24, 2017, when Maoists killed at least 25 CRPF personnel and injured another six in an ambush at Kalapattar in the Burkapal area of Sukma District; and the March 11, 2017, incident when the Maoists killed 12 CRPF personnel and injured another four when they ambushed a Road Opening Party (ROP) in the forests near Kottacheru village under the Bhejji Police Station in Sukma District.

Meanwhile, there is a significant dip in fatalities among civilians in the current year, after these had risen in 2015 and 2016. Nevertheless, civilians in Sukma continue to live in fear of the Maoists. In attempts to terrorise civilians, the Maoists have abducted many and, in some cases, killed them.  On March 10, 2017, for instance, a former Sarpanch (head of Panchayat, a local-self Government institution), identified as Madvi Dula (55), was killed by CPI-Maoist cadres after being abducted on March 9, on suspicion of being a 'Police informer', in the Tokanpalli Forest area under the Chintagufa Police Station in Sukma. More recently, on September 16, 2017, a group of armed Maoists abducted 10 villagers, including woman Sarpanch Podiyam Muye and Deputy Sarpanch Podiyam Komal, of Chintagufa village in Sukma District. Later, in the night of September 20, 2017, the Maoists released all of them, after subjecting them to a ‘jan adalat (People’s Court)’, in which they were warned not to ‘help’ the administration in carrying out development activities in remote areas. They were also threatened not to attend meetings held by the District administration to address grievances of villagers.

Unsurprisingly, Sukma is listed among the 35 worst Naxal [Left Wing Extremism (LWE)]-affected Districts identified by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), across the country.

Sukma was carved out of Dantewada as a separate District on January 16, 2012, and is spread over a geographical area of 5635.79 square kilometres, of which around 3,500 square kilometres (more than 75 per cent of its total area) is under thick forest cover. The forest cover, terrain and geography of the District provide the Maoists distinct tactical advantages, allowing them to establish disruptive dominance over much of the area. In addition, the District abuts the Maoist-afflicted Bastar, Bijapur and Dantewada Districts of the State to the north and west; the Malkangiri District of Odisha to the east; and the Khammam District of Telangana to the South, making it more formidable challenge for SFs in their hunt for the Maoists.

In a worrying development, media reports published on September 9, 2017, suggested that the ‘commander’ of the Maoists’ ‘Battalion No.1’, Madvi Hidma (36), who was allegedly involved in most of the major incidents in the District, including the April 24, 2017, Burkapal ambush, the May 25, 2013, Jeeram Valley ambush, and the April 6, 2010, Chintalnad ambush, among others, has been promoted to the Central Committee (CC) of the CPI-Maoist, the second most powerful body of the outfit, after its ‘Politburo’. Intelligence agencies are, however, reluctant to confirm Hidma’s elevation in the absence of any documentary evidence in Maoist publications or seized correspondence. Hidma belongs to the Muria tribal community of the Bastar region and was born at Purvati village in Sukma. His ascent reportedly came as a reward for his successes in the fight against SFs in the area, providing the lone ‘bright spot’ in an otherwise murky battle field across the country where the Maoists are facing several reverses, including in their epicentre of dominance in Chhattisgarh.

Recent, albeit occasional, Maoist successes against SFs have provoked strengthening State responses after the Burkapal debacle. The Government has decided to deploy a fresh squad of 2,000 Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) personnel in and around Sukma. Though the Central Government has not disclosed actual strength of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) deployment in Maoist affected areas, varying media reports indicate that around 44 CoBRA teams (of the total 154) are deployed in Chhattisgarh for operations, and all of them are in the Bastar region comprising seven Districts – Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, Kondagaon, Narayanpur and Sukma. In addition, 20,000 State Policemen are deployed in the Bastar region. The SF leadership has also reviewed the lapses that facilitated recent debacles, and sources indicate that tactical and administrative procedures are being modified to ensure that such failures are not repeated in future.

Sukma remains one of the last surviving Maoist bastions in the country, with much of their operational strength intact. The District is among the most poorly connected and under-developed, even by the Bastar Division’s low standards, and SFs confront extraordinary difficulties operating in its tough terrain, and in a population where the Maoist – and in particular, Hidma’s personal – influence is substantial, and where the Maoist intelligence networks is likely stronger than that of the State.

NEPAL
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Pathways to Resolution
S. Binodkumar Singh
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

On September 18, 2017, the third and final phase of local level elections was held for 136 local units including one metropolitan city, three sub-metropolii, 73 municipalities and 59 rural municipalities in the eight Districts of Province 2 in Nepal. Of the 2,664,950 registered voters, 73 per cent cast their votes. The voting concluded peacefully though there were some reports of pre-poll and post-poll violence. Pre-poll violence included:

On August 29, 2017, three Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) cadres were injured when they tried to obstruct an assembly of Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) cadres in Janakpur Sub-Metropolis of Dhanusha District

On September 5, 2017, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was exploded by elements from the Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (Krantikari) at the CPN-UML mayoral candidate’s home in Lahan, Siraha District.

After the polling, on September 19, 2017, two cadres of the CPN-UML were injured in a clash with the Nepali Congress (NC) cadres at the vote counting center in Brindaban Municipality of Rautahat District; and on September 20, 2017, a cadre of RJPN was killed in a clash with cadres of NC in Katahariya Municipality of Rautahat District in an election row.

After an interregnum of 20 years, the first round of local level elections had been conducted on May 14, 2017, 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 of registered voters took part in these elections. The last local elections in Nepal had been held in May 1997.

The second phase of local level elections was held on June 28, 2017, for 334 local units including one metropolitan city, seven sub-metropolitan cities, 111 municipalities and 215 rural municipalities in 35 Districts of Province 1, 5 and 7. 73.69 per cent of voters cast their votes in the elections. Nepal has a total of 77 districts in seven provinces.

Significantly, RJPN took part in the third phase of the local elections held on September 18, 2017. 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). RJPN had boycotted the first and second rounds of polls. The Madhesi parties have been demanding an amendment to the Constitution adopted on September 20, 2015, to change the demarcation of Districts and constituencies before the holding of local level elections.

On August 16, 2017, in order to bring the agitating RJPN onboard the election process, Parliament began clause-wise discussion on the Constitution Amendment Bill registered by the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led Government on April 11, 2017. Further, the ruling parties – NC and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-Maoist Center) –added nine local units on August 18, 2017, including three new local units in Sarlahi; two in Rautahat; and one each is in Saptari, Parsa, Dhanusha and Bara Districts of Province 2, where the third phase of local level polls was held on September 18, 2017. Nevertheless, the Parliament session held on August 21, 2017, could not endorse the Constitution Amendment Bill, as opposition parities including CPN-UML and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) voted against it. Out of 553 lawmakers present in the voting, as many as 347 lawmakers voted in favor of the Bill while 206 lawmakers voted against it, failing to reach the two-third majority required for constitutional amendment.

Earlier, due to simmering tensions Madhesi parties had refused to take part in local polls. However, on August 24, 2017, at a press conference organized by the party in Kathmandu, RJPN announced its decision to take part in the local level elections. RJPN Coordinator Mahantha Thakur noted: “Sixty-four per cent people’s representatives have accepted that the Constitution, which some forces boasted had endorsement of 90 per cent majority, is flawed and there is a need to amend the Constitution. Even though the Constitution Amendment Bill was defeated in the Parliament, the agendas of rights and identity that the RJPN has been raising were established in the Parliament.” Thakur also noted that the Government had granted ‘martyrdom status’ to those who were killed during the agitation for amendment to the Constitution, compensation to those who lost their properties in arson attacks, and monthly allowances to those who sustained serious injuries, among other Madhesi demands conceded.

Further, in order to end the negative practices and exploitation of Madhesi areas, and to formulate policy and programs for implementation in order to empower the Madhesi communities, the Parliament passed the Madhesi Commission Bill unanimously on September 8, 2017, which the Government had presented on November 13, 2016. Yet to be formed, the Commission will recommend special programs to empower Madhesi communities, which have lagged both economically and socially. The Bill includes the operation of awareness programs for the protection, promotion and empowerment of the Madhesi Community, and the Committee is to recommend measures for the protection of the Madhesi language, script, culture, history, religion, art and literature. According to the Bill, the Commissioner is to be appointed out of candidates who have spent at least ten years in the welfare of Madhesi Community, and with experience in the protection and promotion of human rights and people’s empowerment.

Meanwhile, on September 12, 2017, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba declared, "We failed to push the Bill through the Parliament but NC has not abandoned the issue. The Bill will once again be put to vote in Parliament after the local elections. NC is committed to fulfilling the demands of the Madhesi communities." Reaffirming his pledge to amend the Constitution and promising to do it under his party's leadership, Prime Minister Deuba had stated, on September 15, 2017, that NC would leave no stone unturned to empower the Madhesi people by amending the Constitution.

Earlier, taking the country one more step towards the implementation of the Constitution, the Constituency Delimitation Commission (CDC) formed on July 20, 2017, headed by former Justice of the Supreme Court (SC) Kamal Narayan Das, submitted its report on August 30, 2017, in line with its mandate to carve out 165 constituencies across the country for election to the House of Representatives. The number of constituencies for provincial elections will be 330, as the Constitutional provision requires two constituencies for each federal constituency. A copy of the report was submitted to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. According to CDC Chairman Das, 90 per cent weightage was given to population and 10 per cent to geography while carving out the constituencies “after thoroughly considering factors like geography, population distribution, social diversity and laws regarding electoral constituency.” The CDC has also made sure that one District has at least one constituency. Of the total 165 electoral constituencies, 78 are in 20 Tarai Districts which make up 47.27 per cent of the country’s total geography. The CDC was initially given 21 days to complete its task. Its term was extended by 15 days on August 16, 2017. As per the Constitution, the new constituencies carved out by the CDC cannot be altered for another 20 years and the CDC recommendations cannot be challenged in any court of law.

On the other hand, on September 4, 2017, the Supreme Court directed the Government to hold all types of elections, including the provincial and parliamentary elections, by January 21, 2018. As per the new Constitution, local, province and parliamentary elections needed to be completed by this date. As a result, on September 13, 2017, the Government decided to hold elections in the provinces and for Parliament in two phases, on November 26, 2017 and December 7, 2017. On September 14, 2017, a day after the Government’s decision, the Election Commission charted out the details of Districts going to polls in the first and second phases. The Election Commission announced that, out of 77 Districts, 32 across the seven Provinces, would go to polls in the first round on November 26, 2017 and the remaining 45 Districts on December 7, 2017.

As part of the preparations to hold the upcoming provincial and parliamentary elections, the Election Commission finalized the design of the ballot papers to be used for the Proportional Representation (PR) electoral system, on September 22, 2017. A board meeting of the Election Commission endorsed the design, paving the way for printing the ballot papers. The Election Commission estimates that it has to print 34 million ballot papers for the upcoming elections. Election Commission Commissioner Narendra Dahal observed, "The printing of ballot papers is a time taking job. So, we are beginning to print the ballot papers for PR category from September 26."

On September 20, 2017, the Nepal Constitution had completed two years since its passage, and has now entered its third year. Despite its fractious drafting and political differences that persist across the country, there has been gradual progress towards resolution, and a systemic embedding of a culture of democratic and negotiated settling of disputes, with no evidence of the extreme violence that had afflicted the country in more than a decade of insurgency and the transformative changes the national polity underwent during this troubling phase. The successful completion of local level elections has paved the way for provincial and Parliamentary elections later this year, indicating that the country’s political transition is likely to be completed in the foreseeable future, and the sway of the Constitution would be fully established.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
September 18-24, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

INDIA

 

Jammu and Kashmir

3
1
3
7

Manipur

1
0
2
3

Punjab

0
0
2
2

Left-Wing Extremism

 

Chhattisgarh

0
0
3
3

Jharkhand

3
0
3
6

Telangana

0
0
2
2

INDIA (Total)

7
1
15
23

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

0
0
2
2

FATA

0
1
3
4

KP

0
0
3
3

Punjab

0
0
2
2

Sindh

2
3
0
5

PAKISTAN (Total)

2
4
10
16
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


INDIA

Won't rest till India is 'liberated', warns Zakir Musa led Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind: A fresh statement issued through the official media of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (supporters of holy war in India), the Kashmir-based al Qaeda affiliate led by former Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) leader Zakir Musa, has warned that it will not rest until it 'liberates occupied Hindustan'. The release, while citing the 8th century example of Muhammad bin Qasim who allegedly killed the then Hindu king of Sindh and established the rule of Shariah there, appealed to all Muslims to sacrifice their comforts and join the battle to re-establish the Islamic Caliphate. Times of India , September 23, 2017.

Threats endangering South Asia's peace and stability on rise, says Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj: The number of threats and incidents endangering South Asia's peace and stability are on the rise, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on September 22, in an apparent reference to Pakistan. Sushma Swaraj, on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, said regional prosperity, connectivity and cooperation can take place only in an atmosphere of peace and security. "It, however, remains at serious risk in the region. The number of threats and incidents that endanger South Asia's peace and stability are on the rise," she said in the opening statement at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Foreign Ministers meeting. Times of India , September 23, 2017.


NEPAL

Election inevitable for effective implementation of Constitution, says Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at a reception programme on September 21 said that it was inevitable to hold all three tiers of elections in the stipulated dates for the effective implementation of the Constitution. Noting that the long-cherished aspiration of promulgating the new Constitution of Nepal through people's representatives has materialized after a long journey of political struggle, he said, "The local level elections have been successfully held. The significant phase of the constitution implementation would be over following parliamentary and provincial elections". The Himalayan Times, September 23, 2017.


PAKISTAN

Pakistan nuclear forces hidden at nine places, at risk of being stolen by terrorists, reveal Federation of American Scientists report: According to a recent report by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Pakistan has stored its nuclear forces at nine different locations across the country. Renowned United States (US) nuclear weapon expert and co-author of the report Hans Kristensen said Pakistan's nuclear warheads may be located in storage facilities near the bases the report identifies, and that these bases themselves appear to house nuclear-capable launchers that would use those warheads. The report describes the launcher bases to give readers an impression of the extent to which Pakistan's nuclear forces are being dispersed across the country. Times of India , September 25, 2017.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani says Pakistan must crush