INDIA
PAKISTAN
NEPAL
BHUTAN
BANGLADESH
SRI LANKA
Terrorism Update
Latest
S.A.Overview
Publication
Show/Hide Search
HomePrint
 
  Click to Enlarge
   

SAIR Archive            SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW          LATEST ON SATP
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 16, No. 15, October 9, 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


PAKISTAN
Click for PrintPrint

Sectarian Spite
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Associate; Institute for Conflict Management

At least 20 persons were killed and more than 30 injured on October 5, 2017, when a suicide bomber struck outside the Dargah (Sufi shrine) of Pir Rakhyal Shah in the Gandawa area of Fatehpur, a small town in the Jhal Magsi District of Balochistan. The deceased included at least three children. Four of the injured people died later, two each on October 6 and October 7, raising the death toll to 24.

District Police Officer (DPO) Mohammad Iqbal said the suicide bomber had tried to enter the shrine but a Police constable on security duty stopped him, after which the attacker detonated his explosives killing the constable and another 19 people. Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti added, "if he [the attacker] had managed to enter the Dargah, the death toll would have been much higher." The explosion occurred at 5.50 pm [PST] when the dhamaal — a devotional dance performed at shrines — was being performed after evening prayers. Islamic State (IS)/Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack.

On February 16, 2017, a suicide bomber had killed 88 people and injured more than 343 in an attack targeting the dhamaal celebration at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Sufi shrine in the Sehwan town of Jamshoro District in Sindh. Daesh had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Earlier, on November 12, 2016, at least 52 persons were killed and 102 others were injured in an explosion at the Sufi shrine of Shah Noorani in the Khuzdar District of Balochistan. The explosion took place at the spot where the dhamaal was being performed. At the time of the blast, at least 500 people had gathered to view the performance. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack.

The first reported attack on a Sufi shrine in Pakistan since March 2000, when the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database commenced compiling data on terrorism-related fatalities in Pakistan, took place on March 19, 2005. On that day, at least 50 persons were killed and more than 100 others sustained injuries when a bomb exploded at a crowded gathering near the Pir Rakhyal Shah shrine (the location of the of October 5, 2017, incident). Between March 19, 2005, and October 5, 2017, terrorists carried out at least 16 attacks on Sufi shrines, killing 190 people and injuring more than 656. The prominent attacks on Sufi shrines in Pakistan include the following:

May 27, 2005: At least 25 people, including a suspected suicide bomber, were killed and approximately 100 others sustained injuries in an explosion at the Bari Imam shrine in the vicinity of the diplomatic enclave in the national capital, Islamabad. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for the attack.

March 3, 2008: At least 10 people were killed and six injured when Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) militants lunched a rocket attack on the 400-year-old shrine of Abu Saeed Baba in Shiekhan village on the outskirts of Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

July 1, 2010: At least 40 persons were killed and 175 injured when three suicide attackers blew themselves up inside the shrine of Syed Ali Hajwairi popularly known as Data Gunj Bakhsh, in the Data Durbar area of Lahore in Punjab. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings.

October 7, 2010: Nine persons, including two children, were killed and over 65 sustained injuries when two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi in the Clifton area of Karachi in Sindh. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

October 25, 2010: A bomb explosion at the eastern gate of the Baba Farid Ganj Shakar Shrine in the Pakpattan District of Punjab killed at least six persons, including three women, and injured several others. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

April 3, 2011: At least 41 persons were killed and more than 100 injured when two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the shrine of Sufi saint Ahmed Sultan, popularly known as Sakhi Sarwar, in Dera Ghazi Khan District of Punjab. TTP claimed responsibility.

February 25, 2013: Three people were killed and more than 27 were injured in a bomb attack at Dargah Ghulam Shah Ghazi in the Maari village area of Shikarpur District in Sindh. The perpetrator group was not identified.

June 21, 2014: At least 52 persons were injured in an explosion during Urs (the annual religious congregation at the shrine) celebrations at Durbar Nangay Shah Pir Badshah in the Pind Parian area of Shahzad Town Police Station in Islamabad. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

It is not just the Sufis who have been targeted by Sunni extremist terrorist formations in Pakistan. The country has a long history of sectarian violence. Pakistani terrorist groups, principally followers of the Sunni sect of Islam, have continuously targeted places of worship of other sects of Islam, claiming that these ‘adversaries’ do not follow correct interpretation of Islam. According to partial data compiled by SATP, at least 4,708 persons have been killed and another 8,165 injured in 1,592 incidents of sectarian violence since 2000.

Sectarian violence in Pakistan: 2000-2017

Year

Incidents
Killed
Injured

2000

109
149
NA

2001

154
261
495

2002

63
121
257

2003

22
102
103

2004

19
187
619

2005

62
160
354

2006

38
201
349

2007

341
441
630

2008

97
306
505

2009

106
190
398

2010

57
509
1170

2011

30
203
297

2012

173
507
577

2013

128
525
914

2014

92
210
312

2015

53
276
327

2016

35
137
182

2017

13
223
676

Total*

1592
4708
8165
Source: SATP, *Data till October 8, 2017

For long, the primary players in this sectarian violence had been LeJ, TTP and LeI, who wanted to transform Pakistan into a Sunni state, primarily through violence. With the Pakistan military initiating lethal targeted operations against domestically oriented terror groups, like LeJ and TTP, and consequent significant reversers inflicted on them, Pakistan recorded a dramatic decline in all kinds of terrorism-related fatalities, including fatalities in sectarian violence. In 2016, Pakistan recorded 137 fatalities in sectarian violence, the second lowest on record since 2001. The lowest number of such fatalities, 121, was recorded way back in 2002.  There has been, however, a significant surge in such fatalities in the current year – with at least 223 already killed (data till October 8, 2017). 

The primary reason behind the surge in such violence is the growing influence of Daesh. Indeed, out of the last five foremost sectarian attacks (each resulting in more than 20 killings), three have been claimed by Daesh alone – the other two claimed by LeJ and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a breakaway faction of TTP.

The Pakistani establishment, however, remains in denial of Daesh's growing influence. The Foreign Office on September 29, 2017, denied the organised presence of Daesh in the country, saying that Pakistan remains immune to this terrorist formation. Earlier, on July 1, 2017, the Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor declared that there was no Daesh presence in Pakistan. Zahid Hussain, a Pakistani security analyst, noted on November 13, 2016,
IS may not have a formal structure in Pakistan, but certainly they have support among some of the banned terrorist groups, particularly Sunni sectarian groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Alami (LeJ-AA)… It's a kind of nexus that we are seeing between global jihadi groups and local sectarian groups.

The Pakistani military continues to highlight the ‘successes’ of the Army's efforts in combating terrorism across the country, but vulnerabilities persist. The losses that domestically oriented terror groups have suffered have created a vacuum, providing opportunities for formations such as Daesh to spread. The rise of Daesh in Pakistan, with the allegiance of local sectarian terrorist groups, is likely to fuel sectarian violence in the foreseeable future.

Islamist terrorism continues to flourish in Pakistan as a result of the state strategy of support to externally directed terrorist formations. Domestic terrorism remains essentially a blowback phenomenon, and will continue to afflict Pakistan as long as the establishment continues to support certain terrorist formations in its policy of using these as “strategic assets” against its neighbours.

INDIA
Click for PrintPrint

Chhattisgarh: Rajnandgaon: Blocking Maoist Recovery
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On October 4, 2017, a group of Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres killed two civilians on the suspicion of being ‘Police informers’ in the Aundhi area of Rajnandgaon District. The victims, identified as Chandan Kirsam (51) and Vinod Salame (18), were first assaulted and then strangulated by the Maoists.

On September 4, 2017, CPI-Maoist cadres killed a civilian, identified as Bajirao Nareti, near Pendodi village in Rajnandgaon District. “The Maoists rounded up four residents of Pendodi village on Monday night [September 4] and took them outside the village. They trashed the villagers and killed one of them,” a Rajnandgaon District Police statement issued on September 5, disclosed. An unnamed Police officer claimed that the deceased Nareti was involved in supplying food grains to the Maoists.

On September 1, 2017, one civilian was killed by CPI-Maoist cadres near Baghdongari village under Aundhi Police Station limits in Rajnandgaon District. On September 2, the Police stated, “Twenty-eight-year-old Pavan Dehari, a resident of Rajkatta village of Rajnandgoan, was shot dead by the Maoists near Baghdongari village under Aundhi Police Station limits at around midnight on Friday [September 1]. Pavan Dehari was an innocent villager. He was working as a carpenter in Rajkatta village.” The Police asserted that the killing was an “act of frustration by the Maoists”.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least four civilians have been killed in Rajnandgaon District in Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-linked violence in the current year, 2017, so far (data till October 8, 2017). Since the formation of the CPI-Maoist on September 21, 2004, the District has recorded at least 46 such fatalities and is ranked 5th among a total of 15 Districts from where civilian fatalities have been registered in the State. The other Districts of the State which exceed Rajnandgaon in terms of civilian fatalities are – Dantewada (337 fatalities), Bijapur (173 fatalities), Sukma (58 fatalities) and Kanker (57 fatalities ranking 4th). Chhattisgarh State has recorded a total of 761 civilian fatalities since the formation of the CPI-Maoist.

Moreover, Rajnandgaon District shares the 17th  rank, along with Purulia in West Bengal, among the 114 Districts across India, from where civilian fatalities were registered through September 21, 2004 – 2017.

The continued insecurity among the civilian population is primarily due to the Maoists retaining a measure of dominance in their face-off with the Security Forces (SFs) in the District. Since September 21, 2004, the Rajnandgaon District has recorded 41 SF fatalities, as compared to just eight fatalities among the Maoists, establishing a staggering kill ratio of 1:5.12 in favour of the Maoists. Significantly, on July 12, 2009, in a major attack, the worst ever by the Maoists targeting SFs in Rajnandgaon, the Maoists killed 30 Police personnel, including a Superintendent of Police (SP), in simultaneous ambushes and landmine attacks at Madanwada, Khoregaon and Sitagaon under the Manpur Police Station limits. Even if this incident is excluded, the kill ratio favours the Maoists at 1:1.25. Notably, out of 12 Districts in Chhattisgarh from where fatalities among both these categories – SFs and Maoists – have been recorded, the kill ratio in seven, including Rajnandgaon, is in favour of the Maoists. Similarly, out of 69 Districts across 14 States of India, from where fatalities in both these categories have been recorded, the kill ratio in 25 Districts is in favour of the Maoists.

Fatalities in Rajnandgaon District: 2004*- 2017**

Year

Civilians
SFs
LWEs
Total

2004

0
0
0
0

2005

1
1
0
2

2006

2
2
0
4

2007

1
1
0
1

2008

2
0
0
2

2009

14
31
0
45

2010

8
0
0
8

2011

6
1
0
7

2012

1
1
0
2

2013

1
0
1
2

2014

1
0
1
2

2015

4
0
0
4

2016

1
2
1
4

2017

4
3
5
12

Total

46
41
8
95
Source: SATP, **Data till October 8, 2017
* Formation of CPI-Maoist on September 21, 2004.

Rajnandgaon District, carved out from the erstwhile Durg District, on January 26, 1973, covers a geographical area of 8,222 square kilometres, out of which 978.87 square kilometres is under forest cover. The District shares its borders with Kabirdham, earlier known as Kawardha in the north and Durg in the east, both in Chhattisgarh; Gadchiroli and Bhandara Districts in Maharashtra, and Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh, in the west; and Bastar in Chhattisgarh, in the south. All these Districts, with the exception of Kabirdham, are Left Wing Extremism-affected. More worryingly, the Bastar District is ranked 11th among the worst affected Districts, out of the 139 Maoist-affected Districts in the country, in terms of fatalities recorded in such violence since 2004. Rajnandgaon was also listed among the 35 worst Naxal (LWE)-affected Districts identified by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) in 2010.

It is not surprising, consequently, that the Maoists, who are facing severe reveres across the country, including in Chhattisgarh, struggling to recover the few places where they retain some hold. Rajnandgaon fits into this plan and, therefore, falls under the new ‘guerrilla zone’ – the Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Confluence zone’ (MMCCZ) – carved out by the Maoists for their operations. Apart from forested pockets in northern Rajnandgaon and parts of Kabirdham and Mungeli Districts in Chhattisgarh, the MMCCZ covers forested pockets in Balaghat District in Madhya Pradesh and Gondia District in Maharashtra. According to reports MMCCZ functions under the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), the most powerful entity within the CPI-Maoist operational setup.

To further their plan, the Maoists are focusing on issues specific to the area in an effort to win over villagers and consolidate their presence. As the village population is predominantly tribal in the new ‘guerrilla zone’ and reportedly feels ‘left behind by development’, the Maoists have included issues of land and differential pricing of bamboo and tendu patta (leaves of the tendu tree). An unnamed villager in Malaida of Rajnandgaon District thus noted, “We live on what we can make from bamboo and tendu patta, but we never get a fair price. Contractors take their cut, and people from other States take away the produce.” Indeed, according to the “District Development and Diversity Index Report for India and Major States,” a joint survey conducted by the US-India Policy Institute (USIPI) and the Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy (CRDDP), New Delhi, among the 599 Districts across India covered by the survey, Rajnandgaon ranked 414th towards the bottom. The other Districts which fall under MMCCZ and were covered under the survey are – Balaghat (ranked 439th), Gondia (ranked 259th), and Kabirdham/Kawardha (ranked 466th).  The report of the survey, which took composite development — measured in terms of economic development and the indices of health, education and material well-being – into consideration, was released on January 29, 2015. Ironically, Rajnandgaon District is the home (Assembly) constituency of three-time Chief Minister Raman Singh.

Importantly, on June 13, 2017, acknowledging the developments in the new MMCCZ, Chhattisgarh's Special Director General of Police (DGP, anti-Naxal operations), D. M. Awasthi observed, “Yes, it is true that they are attempting to create a new zone called MMC. We are well aware of it and have been working against it. The first intimation we got about this development was in April 2016… So far, they have had little success. There have been some close calls with their leadership in the area, and exchanges of fire as well, but no casualties. A new zone is indeed a matter of concern, and requires us to be especially vigilant.”

Significantly, on June 21, 2017, a high-level meeting to curb the Maoist problem in the ‘MMC Zone’ was held in Rajnandgaon District, attended by the Senior Security Adviser in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), K. Vijay Kumar; D. M. Awasthi; Madhya Pradesh’s Additional Director General of Police (ADGP, anti-Naxal operations), Sanjiv Kumar Singh; Maharashtra’s ADGP, anti-Naxal operations, D. Kanakratnam; Chhattisgarh’s Inspector General of Police (IGP, Durg Range), Dipanshu Kabra; and SP's of Rajnandgaon (Chhattisgarh), Gondia (Maharashtra) and Balaghat (Madhya Pradesh). In the meeting, strategies were discussed to thwart Naxal activities on the bordering area through joint efforts of Police from the three neighbouring States. Strengthening of the information network to prepare a special action plan for the exchange of operational intelligence between the affected States was also discussed.

The overwhelming focus is presently on the security situation in the Bastar Division, but it is equally important to block Maoist efforts to regroup in other areas of vulnerability, including Rajnandgaon and its neighbouring Districts, across State lines. Some successes have been achieved by the SFs in Rajnandgaon in the current year. The better kill ratio in favour of the SFs in the current year – 1: 1.66 – is a positive sign. More significantly, SFs have managed to eliminate five Maoists in the current year, the highest number over the last 12 years.

Simultaneously, it is vital to boost development in Rajnandgaon. On February 21, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban (rural-urban) Mission from Kurubhat village in the Dongargarh Block (administrative unit) in Rajnandgaon District, with an aim to draw an investment of over INR 50 billion over three years to "transform rural areas to economically, socially and physically sustainable spaces" in Chhattisgarh's Rajnandgaon, Dhamtari, Kawardha and Bastar Districts. Also, between May 8 and June 8, 2017, Chhattisgarh Police, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Madhya Pradesh’s Hawk Team (a specialised unit for countering terrorist and Naxal operations), set up a joint temporary camp at Gatapar village in Abhanpur tehsil (revenue unit) in Raipur District to conduct operations and facilitate the building of a 13-kilometres road from Gatapar village in Raipur to Malaida village in Rajnandgaon. An ITBP officer guarding the under-construction road, according to a report dated June 15, 2017, noted, “If the Maoists are successful in setting up base here, it will be difficult to uproot them. This can potentially become another Bastar. So it is our job to dominate the area, go to villagers and talk to them, and provide security to the roads.”


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 2-8, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

INDIA

 

Jammu and Kashmir

1
2
8
11

Manipur

1
0
0
1

Left-Wing Extremism

 

Chhattisgarh

2
0
0
2

Odisha

2
0
1
3

INDIA (Total)

6
2
9
17

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

24
0
1
25

FATA

0
1
0
1

KP

1
0
0
1

Punjab

0
0
2
2

Sindh

0
0
1
1

PAKISTAN (Total)

25
1
4
30
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


INDIA

600 cease-fire agreement violations by Pakistan in 2017, says UMHA: Pakistan has violated the cease-fire agreement (CFA) over 600 times so far this year (2017), the highest in the last one decade, a Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) official said. "Pakistani troops have opened fire on Indian territories more than 600 times till September 30. Eight civilians and 16 security personnel were killed in the firing", a UMHA official said. It is the highest number of ceasefire violations in nearly a decade, the official said. Times of India , October 7, 2017.

Naxalites use kids to fight in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, says UN report: : The United Nations (UN) has received reports of Naxalites [Left Wing Extremists (LWEs)] using children to fight in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and of terrorists burning at least 30 schools in Kashmir last year, according to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In his annual report on Children in Armed Conflict, Guterres said, "Children continued to be affected by incidents of violence between armed groups and the government, in particular in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, as well as tensions in Jammu and Kashmir." Zee News , October 7, 2017.

Maharashtra ATS deradicalised 70 persons in two years, blocked over 450 propaganda websites, says report: Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), in the past two years, deradicalised at least 70 people who were trapped in extremist literature online and were on the verge on being recruited. Cyber laboratory of ATS, which keeps a tab on all websites and URLs spreading radical propaganda, has blocked 450 such sites in the past one-and-a-half years. A senior official from Maharashtra ATS said that Islamic State (ISIS)'s indoctrination is done by different people and there are multiple levels for it. "ISIS websites keep releasing extremist content and get in touch with youths who share its ideology. They use chat rooms and apps which are difficult to trace," said an official. India Today, September 27, 2017.

BSF identifies 140 vulnerable spots along India-Bangladesh border: Border Security Force (BSF) Director General (DG) KK Sharma said on October 6, that as many as 140 vulnerable spots have been identified along the 4,096-kilometer long India-Bangladesh border from where Rohingya Muslims could cross over to India. The BSF has chalked out a detailed plan to keep a vigil on the "spillover effect of the Rohingyas crossing over to India." The security at these 140 sections has been strengthened by deploying more manpower and adding technological inputs and gadgets, diverted from other posts, he said while interacting with media at a joint conference with Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) Director General Major General Abul Hossain in New Delhi. Times of India, October 7, 2017.

Purview of AFSPA reduced in Meghalaya and Arunachal: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) has brought down the range of 'disturbed area' under the controversial Armed Forces [Special Powers] Act (AFSPA) 1958 in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh following improvement in the law and order situation. A notification issued by the UMHA on October 1 said areas under the 'disturbed area' tag in Meghalaya along the border with Assam has been reduced to 10 kilometers from the previous 20 kilometers under Section 3 of AFSPA up to March 31, 2018. The notification came into effect from October 1. Times of India, October 4, 2017.

Maoists raising a new armed group, says Union Ministry of Home Affairs official: Cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) were attempting