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SAIR Archive            SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW          LATEST ON SATP
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 16, No. 24, December 11, 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
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The Fidayeen Strike Back
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

On December 1, 2017, at least four fidayeen (suicide attackers) of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) stormed the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), killed at least nine persons, including six students, and injured another 37. Two soldiers were also injured in the rescue operation. According to reports, about 120 college residents, out of a total of nearly 400, were present at the time of the attack. Most of the others had gone home for a long holiday weekend.

On November 25, 2017, at least six civilians, including a woman and a child, were killed and another 17 were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up, targeting Frontier Corps personnel in the Sariab Road area of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan. Two FC vehicles were also damaged in the blast.

On November 24, 2017, Additional Inspector-General of Police, KP, Muhammad Ashraf Noor, was killed while seven other Policemen were injured, when a suicide bomber crashed his motorcycle into the vehicle carrying the AIG, near Zarghoni Mosque in the Hayatabad area of Peshawar. Chief Capital Police Officer Tahir Khan disclosed that about 20 kilograms of explosive material was used in the attack.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 22 fidayeen attacks, resulting in 369 deaths and 1,052 injuries, have been reported in the current year so far (data till December 10, 2017). During the corresponding period of 2016, there were 19 such incidents resulting in 401 deaths and over 935 injuries. There were no more suicide attacks in the remaining period of 2016. Pakistan has recorded at least 468 suicide attacks resulting in 7,230 fatalities and over 15,306 injuries since 2002.

Fatalities in Suicide Attacks in Pakistan 2002-2017

Year

Incidents
Killed
Injured
Total Terrorism Related Fatalities in Pakistan

2002

1
15
34
139

2003

2
69
103
189

2004

7
89
321
863

2005

4
84
219
648

2006

7
161
352
1471

2007

54
765
1677
3598

2008

59
893
1846
6715

2009

76
949
2356
11704

2010

49
1167
2199
7435

2011

41
628
1183
6303

2012

39
365
607
6211

2013

43
751
1411
5379

2014

25
336
601
5496

2015

20
188
410
3682

2016

19
401
935+
1803

2017

22
369
1052
1212

Total*

468
7230
15306+
62848
Source: SATP, *Data till December 10, 2017

The increase recorded in such attacks in the current year suggests that, though Pakistan has of late succeeded in containing terrorist depredations in significant measure, the Pakistani establishments' 'strategic policy' of differentiating between terror groups, supporting some while others are targeted by Security Forces (SFs), continues to work to the detriment of an enduring peace in the country. Significantly, overall terrorism-linked fatalities since 2010, on year on year basis, with an exception of 2014 which registered minimal increase, have declined considerably, as the Pakistan military has targeted domestically oriented terrorist formations.

On the contrary, the Pakistani establishment has allowed terrorist formations targeting other countries, prominently including Afghanistan and India, among others, to operate from its soil. The Pakistani establishment support to radical/extremist groups has created an environment where terror groups continue to thrive, and radicalized sections of the population are committed to a takfiri notion of jihad, which rejects nationalism and attacks any individual or institution that is seen as an obstacle to their ideology and dominance. After decades of state backed radicalization, it is unsurprising that all terrorist formations – those operating within Pakistan and those operating out of Pakistan – have no dearth of 'committed cadres' to die for the 'cause of jihad'.

In the most recent assertion of radicalized groups in the country, the Federal Government bowed down before violent Islamist protesters. On October 2, 2017, the National Assembly passed the ‘Election Bill 2017’, making changes in the Khatm-e-Nabuwat [finality of Prophet-hood] clause of the earlier Bill. Soon after, countrywide protests led by Tehreek-e-Labaik of Pakistan (TLP), an Islamist party, erupted against this change. Other pro-Muslim parties, such as Pakistan Sunni Tehreek and Tehreek-e-Khatme Nabuwwat (Movement for the Finality of Prophet-hood) also lent their support, demanding the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid for removing the clause which, according to these groups undermined Islamic beliefs and amounted to blasphemy. Mounting pressure, the protestors began camping at Islamabad’s Faizabad Traffic Interchange from November 6, 2017. The Government restored the original clause on November 17, 2017, but the Islamists continued with their protest. Eventually, on November 25, 2017, bloody clashes took place just outside Islamabad in which at least six people were killed and another 200 were injured. Speaking from the site of the clashes, TLP 'spokesman' Ejaz Ashrafi declared, “We are in our thousands. We will not leave. We will fight until end.” Clashes also took place elsewhere in the country and continued on November 26 as well.

On November 29, 2017, the Islamabad Police told Pakistan's Supreme Court that the November 25 clashes were primarily caused because "they had hurt the religious sentiments of security forces with their inflammatory speeches." A nine-page report submitted by the Islamabad Police stated that the protesters were religiously motivated and that their speeches were targeted at hurting religious sentiments of SFs keeping vigil. It also said that close to 2000 protesters, mostly armed with stones, pistols, axes, and rods, were present at the protest site.

The protests came to an end with the resignation of the Law Minister Zahid Hamid on November 27, 2017. Hamid stated, “The decision to resign was taken in a bid to steer the country out of the prevailing critical situation.” The resignation, according to reports, came as part of an agreement reached between the Government and the protesters.

In a similar act of appeasement, Jammat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief and founder of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) Hafeez Muhammad Saeed was released from house arrest at midnight on November 24, 2017. The Judicial Review Board of Pakistan’s Punjab province had ordered the release on November 22, 2017, on the grounds that "the government was not able to present any evidence to justify [Saeed's] continued detention". Saeed, along with another four JuD members, had been put under house arrest in Lahore on January 30, 2017. They were detained under Section 11-EEE of Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act, which gives the Government the power to arrest or detain terrorism suspects for up to 12 months. The other four included Abdullah Ubaid, Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Niaz. Saeed's four JuD colleagues were released on October 18, 2017. Significantly, Saeed had been put under ‘house arrest’ soon after Donald Trump assumed power in the US on January 20, 2017.

As SAIR noted earlier, religious extremism continues to increase across Pakistan, with continuing manifestation in killings in the name of god. According to the latest World Report, 2017, published by Human Rights Watch (HRW), at least 19 people remained on death row after being convicted under Pakistan’s draconian Blasphemy Law, and hundreds awaited trial. Most of those facing blasphemy charges are members of religious minorities, often victimized due to personal disputes. Further, the HRW 2015 Report suggested that, since 1990, 60 people have been murdered after being accused of blasphemy. In 2015, Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) reported that a total of 724 Muslims, 501 Ahmadis, 185 Christians and 26 Hindus, had been accused under clauses of the Blasphemy Law since 1987. The majority of these cases were for alleged desecration of the Quran, followed by blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.

With religious/extremist formations gaining more space in Pakistan’s electoral ambit, extremism is bound to increase. This can only help terrorist formations inside Pakistan with an uninterrupted supply of committed jihadis ready to die for a cause. The fidayeen terror will continue to feed and fatten on extremism in the broader social context, despite the SFs’ operational successes against domestic terrorism.

INDIA
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Maharashtra: Gadchiroli: Struggle for Survival
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On December 6, 2017, seven cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) were killed in an encounter with the Security Forces (SFs) near Kalled village, 15 kilometres north of Zinganoor Police Station in the Sironcha tehsil (revenue unit) of Gadchiroli District. Bodies of the seven uniformed Maoists, along with two Self-Loading Rifle (SLR) rifles, two .303 rifles, two 12 bore guns and one country-made pistol, were recovered from the encounter spot. The deceased CPI-Maoist cadres were identified as Aheri area ‘dalam (armed squad) commander’ Ashok Pendam aka Aaytu, (34), resident of Lingampalli in Gadchiroli, who carried a head money of INR 800,000; Sironcha ‘area assistant commander’; Sunita Kodape and ‘assistant commander’ Chandu from the Aheri area, both of whom carried rewards of INR 600,000 each; Sarita Kavande from Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, Shaila Pokur from Bhamragarh area in Gadchiroli, and Akhila Kulmethe from Aheri, each with a reward of INR 200,000 on their heads. The identity of one remaining cadre is yet to be ascertained.

On November 26, 2017, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper, identified as Manjunath Shivaligappa, was killed and another two were injured during an encounter with CPI-Maoist cadres in Gadchiroli District.

On November 24, 2017, a Policeman, Suresh Gawde, was killed and a Policewoman, Sonal Khevale, was injured, when CPI-Maoist cadres triggered an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in a bustling market place in Gadchiroli District. On the same day, CPI-Maoist cadres hacked to death a villager, Suresh Tofa, suspecting him to be a ‘Police informer’, in Sodegaon under the Dhanora Tehsil  in Gadchiroli District.

On November 21, 2017, a former CPI-Maoist supporter Sunil Pawar was shot dead at a market place at Jhadapapda, which is located around eight kilometres from Pendhri in the Dhanora Tehsil of Gadchiroli District. Two others, Sadaram Thakur and Ravindra Kusram, sustained injuries as Maoists in civil attire opened fire at them.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 23 fatalities (six civilians, three SF personnel and 14 Maoists) have so far been recorded in Gadchiroli, in Maoist-linked violence, since the beginning of 2017 (data till December 10). During the corresponding period of 2016, the same number of fatalities was recorded 23 (nine civilians, two SF personnel and 12 Maoists). Total fatalities through 2016 were 26 (12 civilians, two SF personnel and 12 Maoists).

Fatalities in Gadchiroli District: 2004*- 2017**

Year

Civilians
SFs
LWEs
Total

2004

0
0
0
0

2005

2
15
4
21

2006

13
3
34
50

2007

7
2
8
17

2008

2
5
7
14

2009

10
53
22
85

2010

21
15
3
39

2011

34
9
24
67

2012

18
14
5
37

2013

9
7
28
44

2014

9
11
10
30

2015

11
4
2
17

2016

12
2
12
26

2017

6
3
14
23

Total

154
143
173
470
Source: SATP, **Data till December 10, 2017
* Formation of CPI-Maoist on September 21, 2004.

With the success achieved in the December 6, 2017, incident, SFs have further consolidated the position they had begun to secure on the ground during 2016. The kill ratio was in favour of the Maoists in 2014 and 2015, at 1.1:1 and 2:1, respectively. Strongly reversing the trend, SFs secured a ratio of 1:6 in 2016. The kill ratio stands in favour of SFs in the current year at 1:4.66.

Moreover, according to SATP data, at least 10 Maoists were arrested in Gadchiroli in 2017 (data till December 10). During the corresponding period in 2016, only one Maoist had been arrested, and no further arrest was made in the remaining period of 2016. Most recently, on June 17, 2017, SFs arrested Pawan aka Soma Phoda Weladi (35), a member of the Maoists’ Gariabandh ‘divisional committee’, carrying a reward of INR 1.6 million, in Gadchiroli District. A press release by the Superintendent of Police (SP), Gadchiroli, disclosed that Pawan had been involved in several acts of violence in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha over the past 20 years and also worked as a bodyguard for senior Naxal [Left-Wing Extremist (LWE)] leaders.

Mounting SFs pressure has led to the surrender of eight Maoists in 2017 (data till December 10) in addition to 34 such surrenders reported in the corresponding period of 2016 (no further surrender was reported in the remaining period of 2016). Significantly, on December 7, 2017, two Maoists, identified as Kamla Gavle and Nagesh Madavi, each of them carrying a reward of INR 200,000, surrendered before the Gadchiroli Police. In the interim, terming the Aatmasamarpan (surrender) scheme a successful weapon against the Naxalites, the Maharashtra Government extended the scheme for another two years, till August 28, 2019. The Naxal surrender scheme was introduced in August 29, 2005, with the aim of rehabilitating and absorbing the ultras into the mainstream of society. According to a report dated October 6, 2015, the State Government disclosed that, during the 10 years for which the program had been in place, at least 502 Maoists had given up arms and had been rehabilitated. Of those 502, at least 482 were from the Gadchiroli District alone.

In combination, these factors have impacted positively on the civilian security scenario in the District. The number of civilian fatalities, which stands at six in the current year, is the lowest recorded during the corresponding period of each of the previous years, since 2008, when there were two fatalities in this category (there were no more fatalities during the remaining period of 2008).  Moreover, fatalities in this category after registering a minimal increase in 2014 and 2015, from nine to 11, declined considerably in the current year.

Located in the north-eastern part of Maharashtra, Gadchiroli is the epicenter of Maoist violence in the State. The District serves as a transit between Telangana [it shares borders with two Districts: Adilabad and Karimnagar] and Chhattisgarh [it shares borders with four District: Bijapur, Kanker, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon], in regions that are strategically crucial for the Maoists. Gadchiroli has a 78.40 per cent forest cover, i.e. 11,694 square kilometres, out of a total area of 14,412 square kilometres, making the task of locating and sanitizing Maoists hideouts quite difficult. Inevitably, Gadchiroli is among the 35 worst Naxal-affected Districts identified by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) in 2010 across the country. The same information has been shared by the Government thereafter on several occasions. Most recently, on July 18, 2017, the Government informed the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) that there are 35 most affected Districts across seven states (Gadchiroli included).

Gadchiroli also remains an extremely backward District. 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), among the 599 Districts across India covered by the survey, Gadchiroli ranked 429th towards the bottom. 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.

According to Maharashtra Economic Survey 2016-17, Gadchiroli with INR 6,710 per capita Gross Value Added (GVA, at constant prices), had the lowest per capita district GVA in the State, as against Mumbai, with the highest at INR 296,208, and a State average of INR 43,347.

Meanwhile, according to a May 20, 2017, report, Waman Mandavi (19), a member of the Chetna Natya Mandali (CNM), the CPI-Maoist ‘cultural wing’, who was arrested from neighboring Gondia District (Maharashtra) in the last week of April 2017, revealed that the old North Gadchiroli-Gondia-Balaghat-Rajnandgaon (NGGBR) zone/division had been converted into the Gadchiroli-Rajnandgaon-Balaghat (GRB) zone/division. This is an effort to widen Maoist presence in the whole of Gadchiroli, and not just its Northern part, as in the past, and is expected to provide an opportunity to ‘utilize’ the facilities available in strong Maoist ‘base areas’ of the bordering Districts of Chhattisgarh, such as Kanker, Narayanpur and Bijapur, falling under the Bastar Division of Chhattisgarh, the epicenter of Maoist violence. The Maoists have started surveying and recruiting in the GRB zone/division. The GRB zone/division is currently headed by Darbha ‘divisional commander’ Surendra aka Madkami Soma, who has been promoted to a rank equivalent to a ‘Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee Member (DSZC). Soma is supported by Dama aka Rajesh (50) from Marum in Gadchiroli; and Santosh.

The Maharashtra Government has taken several measures to deal with the problem of backwardness prevalent in the region. Most recently, according to a December 4, 2017, report, the State Government has tied up with the United Nations (UN) to launch the Human Development Mission (HDM) in Gadchiroli District.

In a media interview on December 20, 2016, Abhinav Deshmukh, Superintendent of Police (SP), Gadchiroli, had asserted that the District could be Naxal free in five years if other departments worked as necessary: “We have controlled Naxalism considerably. It’s time for other departments to put in their efforts to fill the development backlog. Then only we can curb Naxalism.”

On the Security Front, according to an April 19, 2017, report, for better surveillance of Maoist activities, Gadchiroli District will have Closed-Circuit Television (CCTVs) in around 25 villages. These cameras would make the images of these remote places — from Kamlapur in the Aheri division to Hedri in Etapalli division — available at the local Police Station as well as at the District Police control room at Gadchiroli, more than 100 kilometers away. In the first phase, south Gadchiroli is being covered, with distant villages like Challewada, Kodselgudam, Tarigudam and some others already connected.

Further, according to a September 6, 2017, report, to boost anti-Naxal operations, the Maharashtra Government has decided to buy a new helicopter which will be used for operations in Gadchiroli and Chandrapur Districts, as well as an air ambulance. Around 12,000 Police personnel are deployed in Gadchiroli, including Commando-60 (C-60, the special anti-Maoist Force of the Maharashtra Police) units, CRPF and the Sate Reserve Police Force (SRPF).

SF successes in Gadchiroli have been dramatic, but greater efforts are required to further reinforce the gains. Any lowering of the guard would augment spaces for the Maoists to recover lost ground.


NEWS BRIEFS

Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
December 4-10, 2017

 

Civilians

Security Force Personnel

Terrorists/Insurgents

Total

INDIA

 

Jammu and Kashmir

0
1
6
7

Assam

0
0
1
1

Left-Wing Extremism

 

Andhra Pradesh

2
0
0
2

Chhattisgarh

5
0
1
6

Maharashtra

0
0
7
7

Odisha

1
0
0
1

INDIA (Total)

8
1
15
24

PAKISTAN

 

Balochistan

3
0
0
3

FATA

7
0
0
7

KP

0
0
2
2

PAKISTAN (Total)

10
0
2
12
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.

INDIA

75-80 percent of insurgency problems in North-East have come to an end, states Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh: The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on December 7 stated that about 75-80% insurgency problems in the northeast has come to an end. The Minister stated that ‘I can tell you that 75 to 80% of the insurgency problems in the northeast has come to an end’. Livemint, December 11, 2017.

ISI and Khalistani group plotted killings of RSS men in Punjab, says report: An National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into a series of targeted killings, including those of Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) workers, Dera Sacha Sauda followers and a pastor in Punjab in the last two years has revealed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is using Khalistani extremists to try and stoke communal unrest in the state. The plan was to foment tension by killing key people and revive militancy. ISI turned to Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) led by Harminder Singh Mintoo, lodged in Moga jail, and Harmeet Singh, said to be living in Pakistan under ISI cover. Times of India, December 6, 2017.

Ansar Ghazwat ul-Hind calls Indian Muslims to wage jihad, says report: The Kashmir-based al Qaeda affiliated terror group, Ansar Ghazwat ul-Hind (AGuH), on December 6 called on Indian Muslims to join the cause of jihad as ‘Hindus keep changing their tactics until their mission is accomplished—which is to eliminate every Muslim, be it children, elder, men or women’. The message was also directing the audience in Pakistan, pointing the military ruler ex-Pakistan Army Chief General (retd) Parvez Musharraf’s assault on Lal Masjid premises in Islamabad, “The Babri Masjid and the Lal Masjid were one, and those who extinguished them were also one, both idol-worshippers”. Indian Express, December 7, 2017.

India will secure all its borders, says Union Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh: The Union Minister of Home Affairs (UMHA) Rajnath Singh on December 6 said that the Central Government is committed to secure all International Borders with all neighbouring countries. Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers arrested 87 Rohingya Muslims along the Indo-Bangladesh border since the beginning of the current year till October 31, of whom 76 were sent back to Bangladesh, said BSF Director-General K. K. Sharma. Asian Age, December 7, 2017.

CPI-Maoist 'central committee' decides to involve women in all fronts: The 'central committee (CC)’ of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), observing its 17th anniversary, directed its ‘regional committee members (RCM)’ to indoctrinate women cadres in large numbers across the country. According to the report, CPI-Maoist pasted posters and banners inviting women living in far off villages in Maoist ‘dominated states’ to join the outfit. CPI-Maoist highlighted for protest against patriarchy system and increase women’s involvement in all fronts in its posters. This move of CPI-Maoist is being taken after losing large number of male CPI-Maoist cadres and leaders in encounters. News Nation, December 7, 2017.


NEPAL

Political freedom prevailed over violence, says European Union Election Observation Mission to Nepal: The European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Nepal said the November 26 and December 7 provincial and parliamentary elections demonstrated that political freedom prevailed over violent attacks during the election campaign period. Presenting the mission’s preliminary statement in Kathmandu, Željana Zovko, EU chief observer said, “The 2017 elections to