SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Ages of Unreason
102 Security Force personnel have been killed by Maoists in Chhattisgarh in just the first seven months of 2009 [till July 22, according to South Asia Terrorism Portal data. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) figures are consistently and significantly higher], adding to the 414 killed over the preceding four years (MHA data). Since 2006 – when it overtook the then-frenzied Andhra Pradesh – Chhattisgarh [with 388 total fatalities, according to MHA data] has led the states in Maoist violence.
Much learned analysis has been expended on the most recent of Maoist massacres, on July 12, at Madanwada, Khoregaon and Sitagaon under the Manpur Police Station in the Rajnandgaon District which lies just 90 kilometres from Raipur. A total of 29 Policemen, including a Superintendent of Police, Vinod Choubey – the highest ranking officer to be killed by the Maoists in the State till date – were killed in these interlinked incidents. Commentators have waxed eloquent about the ‘impunity’ and ‘brazenness’ with which Maoists are able to execute attacks, despite the "massive deployment of central paramilitary forces". This would be laughable, were the situation not tragic. The sheer and obdurate ignorance of such commentary ignores the most basic facts of the ground in Chhattisgarh and the persistent and criminal neglect of even the most rudimentary requirements of counter-insurgency response over the entire period of the state’s existence (Chhattisgarh came into being on November 1, 2000) and, indeed, across the expanse of what is widely spoken of as the ‘red corridor’.
The harsh reality is that the entire disposition of Forces – both Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMFs) and State Police – in Chhattisgarh is irrational. The current allocation of Force, in any conceivable distribution, cannot secure any coherent strategic goals against the Maoist challenge. What political and bureaucratic advocates of the ‘battalion approach’ – the arbitrary allocation of available central Forces across the country in the wake of successive ‘emergencies’ – and of incremental capacity augmentation in the Forces, fail to recognize is that there is a critical mass that has to be achieved before counter-insurgency (CI) can even begin to be effective. Anything less creates no more than the illusion of a ‘response’, without adding substance to security. Worse, any concentration or dispersal of Forces below this critical mass abandons these personnel to unacceptable and pointless risk – making them sitting ducks for targeted insurgent violence.
This, precisely, is the situation in Chhattisgarh. A quick review of capacities is useful in this context. The total sanctioned strength of the Police – both civil and armed – in Chhattisgarh currently stands at 42,895 for an estimated population of 20,795,956, yielding a relatively healthy ratio of 206 per 100,000 population (compared to an end-2007 all India average of just 125/100,000). The State Government has made some incremental efforts to increase both sanctioned and actual strength over the past years, driving up the ratio from 128/100,000 in end-2007. These numbers are, however, grossly deceptive. Against the sanctioned strength, there is a deficit of nearly 24 per cent, yielding a total of 32,785 personnel. Worse, the Armed Police – the crucial element in CI operations, stands at a sanctioned 17,303, with a deficit of 36 per cent, yielding just 11,078 personnel (another 5,500 are to be recruited by August 2009). This means that the ratio of armed police to population currently stands at just 53.3/100,000.
To this, let us add the "massive deployment of central paramilitary forces". The total current deployment of CPMFs in Chhattisgarh stands at 16 battalions [14 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and two Shasastra Seema Bal (SSB)]. In most interpretations, this would mean 16,000 CPMF personnel in the State; however, actual deployment on the ground works out to just about 400 personnel per battalion – that is, a total of about 6,400 CPMF personnel in the State. Adding this to the Chhattisgarh Armed Force strength yields a still-anaemic ratio of 84/100,000.
Add another dimension to this. Chhattisgarh is a relatively large State, with a total area of 135,194 square kilometres, with some extra ordinarily difficult terrain. This gives us a total density of 8.2 Policemen per 100 square kilometres; add on the CPMF strength, and we have 12.93 armed personnel per 100 square kilometres.
It is useful to take a quick look at the "massive force" available in the Bastar Division – the region worst affected by Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh, and indeed, in the country. Total deployment in Bastar amounts to just about 6,800 personnel (11 battalions or about 4,400 CRPF personnel and six battalions or 2,400 personnel of the CAF) for an area of 39,114 square kilometres, yielding a ratio of 17.4 armed personnel per 100 square kilometres.
How does this compare with what is really needed? There can, of course, be no absolute criteria for CI Force ratios to population and area – and divergent results have been secured with the most diverse ratios possible. It is useful to note, however, that Manipur, has a police-population ratio 627 per 100,000. This State of just about 2.4 million people, has 10,749 State Armed Police, and an additional deployment of almost 42 battalions of Central Forces for counter-insurgency operations, as against just 16 CPMF battalions in Chhattisgarh, for a population that is just over one-ninth of Chhattisgarh’s, and a land mass that is one sixth that of Chhattisgarh’s. Indeed, Manipur’s geographical area (22,327 square kilometres), is just over half that of the Bastar Division (39,114 square kilometres).
Significantly, the US Army’s Counterinsurgency Manual recommends a ratio of 20 armed personnel per 1,000 population (or 2,000 per 100,000 population) in counter-insurgency operations, a ratio that has never been achieved in any theatre in India.
Absolute deficits in the Force are compounded by even graver deficits in Force leadership. For its size and population, Chhattisgarh has the smallest of sanctioned Indian Police Service cadres – at 81 sanctioned posts. The State ranks 9th in terms of size, but is 25th in terms of IPS allocation. Worse, there are just 64 of the sanctioned 81 IPS officers available in the State on policing posts, and another 10 on deputation to other departments. Indeed, at one point, the State did not even have as many SP ranked officers as it had Districts. This particular problem was, over time, addressed by the simple expedient of directly appointing newly recruited Assistant SPs as SPs immediately after completion of training. Chhattisgarh now has as many as 24 SPs with less than three to four years of service. At the cutting-edge rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, the sanctioned strength stands at 212, but available strength is just 135 – a deficit of 36.32 per cent. In the ranks between Inspector and Assistant Sub-inspector, the deficit stood at as much as 40.5 per cent, according the the NCRB Crime In India 2007 report. In many Police posts and camps, in fact, the Force operates without the leadership of any officer ranks. Operations are led by havildars or constables – and this has become a critical point of dispute in joint operations with CPMFs.
The State Police, moreover, have a transportation deficit of nearly 50 per cent against requirements. While 70 per cent of the police stations have been ‘fortified’, at least 30 per cent continue to operate in improvised barracks, often in the most vulnerable areas. Significantly, moreover, sources disclose that, of about 5,000 CAF personnel trained at the Counterinsurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Kanker, hardly 800 have been deployed in CI duties.
The July 12 incident tells us precisely how Chhattisgarh’s current Force dispositions impact on the ground. First, the Maoists killed two personnel of the Chhattisgarh Special Armed Force (SAF) at a poorly protected camp at Madanwada. The circumstances of this attack are itself revelatory – the two men had gone out of the camp to relieve themselves, as was the routine, since the camp was not provided with any toilet facilities. On hearing of the incident, Vinod Kumar Choubey, the District Superintendent of Police, proceeded to the incident location with reinforcements. This Force was attacked on the way, and there has been much criticism over Choubey’s failure to follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and proper Road Opening Processes (ROP) before proceeding to the camp. But wars are not fought on SOPs. Given the strength of available Forces, no possible relief could have been provided to what was believed to be a besieged camp if the SP had gone ‘by the book’. It is questionable, moreover, whether Choubey had the Force and facilities available to execute and maintain ROP across a distance of 150 kilometres between Rajanandgaon and Madanwada within any timeframe that could have been meaningful in terms of providing relief to personnel in the camp. The problem, as one senior officer in Chhattisgarh explained it, was "terrain and distances". If Force commanders fail to respond quickly to reports of an attack at one of their camps, the consequence would be extreme demoralisation of the Forces and a loss of both legitimacy and authority in an already weakened leadership. If they take a calculated risk in response, on the other hand, the very dispersal and infirmity of forces means that tragedies like Madanwada will occur again and again.
In the wake of the Madanwada incident the entire situation is being interpreted within a Centre vs. State and a CPMFs vs. CAF confrontation. The CRPF has, since June, been refusing to send out its Forces for CI operations without a local Inspector-ranked officer on the grounds that, operations where just a havildar or constable of the CAF accompanied the Force, had ended in disaster in the past. The CRPF has, moreover, virtually ceased offensive operations in areas of deployment in the State, given the extraordinary vulnerabilities to which its Forces are exposed. The State Police leadership insists that it needs at least 55 battalions of CPMFs to ‘deal with’ the Maoists. In the interim, the bulk of the available Force is thinly spread out across the affected areas, overwhelmingly locked into postures of permanent (and consequently unsustainable) defence. Virtually the entire initiative is in the hands of the Maoists, who choose the time, the place and the circumstances of the attack, or design elaborate traps for the SFs in movement. Crucially, the available Police and paramilitary Force in the affected areas is simply too small even to protect itself – as has been evident in the numbers of successful attacks to which it has been subjected – leave alone to act forcefully against the Maoists. In the Bastar Division, for instance, an additional Force of over 80 companies is required for the protection of existing Police Stations, Police Posts and important Government establishments and projects.
How do the Maoists regard the situation? They make little secret of their assessment, and Communist Party of India – Maoist (CPI-Maoist) Politbureau circular of June 12, 2009, titled "Post-Election Situation – Our Tasks" , recognizes the Government’s escalating threat assessment and increasing ‘determination’ to tackle the threat. As the circular expresses it, "the unfolding state terror and state-sponsored terror under Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram combine will be far more brutal, deadly and savage than under any other regime hitherto witnessed." The Maoists apprehend that a "blue-print for a massive military offensive was prepared by the Centre for gaining an upper hand over the Maoists… All-round preparations are in the final stage for launching the massive brutal offensive on the guerrilla zones and guerrilla bases." The document recognizes, further, that
Crucially, however, the Politbureau realizes the current infirmity of the state and its Forces:
It is evident that the Maoists will escalate violence across the areas of their dominance in the proximate future, even as they extend violence into newer areas. As Maoist disruption intensifies across widening areas of the country, the agonizingly slow and essentially incremental augmentation of Central and State Forces in the affected areas will fall progressively behind the demands of the situation, even where it represents significant absolute additions to capacity. The age of incremental response is, in fact, long past. What is needed now is a reverse assessment of the quantum of Force and resources that are required, and processes of acquisition and deployment on a war footing. Embedded and obstructive political and bureaucratic processes will have to undergo urgent reform before this becomes possible.
Unfortunately, far from provoking any coherent policy or strategic response, political points are being scored, even as some idiot solutions do the rounds. Among the latter is the repeated demand from several quarters, for deployment of an already overstretched Army, as well as, in Chhattisgarh, the Opposition’s demand for imposition of President’s rule.
It would be easy to blame the Chhattisgarh Government for many of the deficiencies in the State’s Policing and CI capacities – and substantial blame certainly lies there. But it must be evident that the rot goes deeper, into both the structure of the all-India services – particularly the IPS – and the available capacities of CPMFs. Further, the same afflictions, in different measures, can be found in a number of other States, and it is not just the security of particular regions that is now at risk, it is national security that is threatened. It is crucial that the rule of law be brought urgently – indeed, abruptly – to the centre of governance. Unfortunately, this is unlikely within as criminalized and venal a political-administrative system as India’s.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
July 20-26, 2009
Maoists in Jharkhand threaten to assassinate Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi: The Jharkhand unit of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has warned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Minister of Home Affairs P. Chidambaram and the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi against ‘‘dreaming to wipe out Naxalites from the country’’, saying if they don’t give up on their bid, all three would be eliminated. The threat was issued through a letter originating in Garhwa District and is now in circulation in State capital Ranchi.
Dated July 20 and numbered 25, the letter is signed by one Anupji "on behalf of Ghatshila sub-zonal committee." The letter-head reads, "CPI (Maoist), Jharkhand State Central Committee" and is not addressed to anyone in particular. "Chidambaram says Naxalites would be wiped out... He should stop daydreaming or else he would be given death punishment," the letter reads and dares him to come to the "land of Jharkhand" and see that "Naxalites are not clay toys." The letter also threatens Prime Minister (PM) Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, saying, "Both the PM and Sonia Gandhi will meet a fate like former prime minister, late Rajiv Gandhi," adds Indian Express. It asked all Congress legislators, both from the Parliament and Assembly, to quit within a week or face "death warrants." However, the Superintendent of Police in East Singhbhum District, Navin Kumar Singh, said "I have not come across such a committee as of now," when asked whether Anupji operated in Ghatsilla sub-division which falls under East Singhbhum. "The letter could be fictitious and was found by someone in Balumath in Latehar District and was released in Garwah District in Jharkhand," he added. "The CPI (Maoist) is desperate after it was termed as a terrorist outfit. It just wants to gain mileage by issuing such press releases," another Police official involved in anti-Maoist operation in Jharkhand said. Times of India, July 22, 2009.
Lashkar-e-Toiba militant Kasab confesses to his crime before court in Mumbai: On July 20, 2009, the lone surviving Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist in the Mumbai terrorist attacks case, Mohammad Ajmal Amir alias Kasab, confessed to his crime before the Special Sessions Court at the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai. Kasab also mentioned the name of an Indian national, Abu Jundal, who he claimed "taught us Hindi." Ajmal spoke for about four hours about the incident, his training and his first encounter with the Mujahideen in Pakistan. He began his testimony with a description of his attack at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus along with his partner Abu Ismail. He traced their journey to the Cama Hospital and also narrated the encounter at Girgaum Chowpatty. Meanwhile, calling Kasab’s U-turn as another ploy to mislead the court, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said outside the court that it was his ‘intelligence’ training at work. "Kasab did not name Hafiz Saeed [the LeT chief]. He confessed because the testimonies and the electronic evidence left him with no choice. However, he did not tell the whole truth; he hid certain offences and pleaded guilty to reduce his sentenc," Nikam said. The Hindu, July 21, 2009.
230 militants and 11 soldiers among 245 persons killed in NWFP during the week: Security Forces (SFs) killed a local Taliban ‘commander’ in the Swat District and 13 militants in the Lower Dir District on July 26, 2009. "Security forces conducted a search operation in the area around Tal, Kamari Banda and Maira Banda, killing local commander Maaz of Qambar," said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). In Lower Dir, the bombardment came late on July 25. "At least 13 Taliban were killed and 15 of their hideouts destroyed," a security official in the area told AFP.
SFs on July 25 shot dead at least 14 Taliban militants during operations across Malakand, Buner and Swat. "During last 24 hours, search and clearance operations were conducted in Swat and Malakand division", the ISPR said. 10 Taliban were killed in Buner, while four were killed in Swat, and the SFs also arrested 29 militants from various areas of the two Districts.
16 militants were killed by SFs in the Maidan area of Dir Lower District while five militants and a soldier were killed in different areas of the Swat Valley and Malakand Agency in the ongoing Operation Rah-e-Rast on July 24. 16 militants were killed by the SFs in Maidan, the hometown of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad in Dir Lower, the paramilitary Frontier Corps said without giving any other details.
SFs claimed to have killed eight militants and recovered a Prado used by the Swat Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah during search operations in the Mauja Kandao and Dadrah areas of Kabal sub-division in Swat District on July 23. A spokesman for the Swat Media Centre told reporters that the SFs launched operations in Mauja Kandao, killing six militants. He said that a Prado used by Maulana Fazlullah was also recovered, besides another one. A media update of the ISPR said the SFs killed two militants and arrested three others in Dadrah area during a search operation. In addition, two bodies of militants, identified as Bakht Bedar and Akhtar Ali, were found in Mingora city. Further, a soldier and two militants were killed and another trooper sustained injuries in an encounter in the Thana area of Malakand Agency on July 23. Sources said a convoy of the SFs was on its way to Swat from the Malakand Agency when unidentified militants opened fire at it around 1:00 pm, killing a solider and injuring another. The troops retaliated by killing two militants.
28 militants were killed and several houses were razed during military operations in the Swat, Buner and Dir Lower Districts on July 22. Locals from Swat said the SFs took action in parts of the Kabal sub-division to track down the hiding Taliban militants. They said six suspected militants in Ningolai and two in Malukabad were killed during search operations by the troops. It was also reported that the body of a suspected militant was found at the Aqba Pull in central Mingora city. The ISPR also said SFs had killed eight militants in the Swat valley during the last 24 four hours. The ISPR media update said SFs killed two militants and arrested another during a search operation in Malukabad. The troops also conducted a search operation in Ningolai in which six terrorists were killed and four suspects were arrested, the update said. In Buner, the SFs launched an operation against the Taliban remnants on Chagharzai strip to neutralise the threat of the Taliban in the District. The SFs claimed they had killed three militants during an encounter with the Taliban in Dewana Baba.
SFs killed 11 Taliban militants in the Swat District, while suffering three fatalities on July 21. Locals said seven militants, including two local ‘commanders’ identified as Khalifa and Pehlwan, were killed in the Damghar and Mamdherai areas of Kabal sub-division. A media update of the ISPR on July 21 said "During a search operation at Damgarh and Mamdherai, security forces spotted five terrorists clad in Burqa, trying to escape from the area. They were apprehended, along with short machine guns, while five terrorists were killed." It said three soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer, were also killed during an encounter with the militants in the area. Locals told The News that three militants were killed in Shahdherai area of Kabal during an operation by the SFs. They also said four farmers were killed in the evening of July 20 in the Bara Bandai area of Kabal. Further, continuing their operation in the Maidan revenue division of Lower Dir District, SFs claimed on July 21 to have killed 12 militants, including two ringleaders, identified as Qari Hakimullah and Sher Khan. According to official sources, troops have taken control of militants’ strongholds in Takatak, Undak, Misri Khani, Safaray and Kala Dag. Army officers told local journalists who visited the violence-hit areas of Maidan that 80 per cent of the revenue division had been cleared of militants. More than 100 militants were killed over the past two days.
SFs on July 20 claimed to have killed around 100 Taliban militants in a massive military operation in a cluster of villages in the Maidan area of Dir Lower District. Military sources said the SFs launched action in five villages of Maidan to dislodge the militants from their hideouts as they were launching rocket attacks from there on the Scouts Fort in Timergara. "We have inflicted huge human loss on them. According to the information we have received, the casualties of the militants must not be less than 100," a military official stationed in the area said. He said a large number of foot soldiers backed by tanks, artillery and mortars stormed the positions of the militants in Sherkhanay, Shedas, Misrikhanay, Sangolai and Saparay on July 19. The official said troops continued their operation for around 18 hours to destroy the Taliban hideouts. Some 250-300 Taliban militants were hiding in these five or six villages, according to the official. In addition, 14 militants, including two ‘commanders’, and an Army officer were killed in clashes between the SFs and Taliban in the Swat District on July 20. Locals from the valley said the exchange of heavy gunfire and mortar shell firing were heard from Koza Bandai village of Kabal area when the two sides clashed. Locals said the fighting resulted in the killing of 14 militants, including two ‘commanders’ identified as Zarqavi and Zulqarnain. Major Zahid of the Pakistan Army was also reported to have been killed during the encounter. Separately, suspected militants of the Mangal Bagh group killed four Policemen in an ambush on the outskirts of Peshawar, capital of the NWFP, on July 20. According to official sources, the Police team was patrolling the Sarband cattle fair on Bara Road at around noon when was attacked. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, July 21-27, 2009.
18 militants and five civilians among 25 persons killed in FATA during the week: In the Bajaur Agency, the Security Forces (SFs) targeted Taliban hideouts in Babra, Manugai, Chinar, Kohi Matak and Karkanai, killing six militants. Two soldiers were killed in an explosion near Sarkari Qila of Bajaur. Separately, bodies of three alleged US spies were found in the Bechi area of Mirali in North Waziristan Agency on July 26. Local people said that a note found with the bullet-riddled bodies said the three were spying for the US.
Two militants were killed and four others sustained injuries when the Army’s gunship helicopters targeted Taliban hideouts in the Bajaur Agency on July 24. Official and tribal sources said gunship helicopters pounded the hideouts and also used heavy artillery and mortars in the Matak area of Nawagai sub-division, killing two militants and injuring four others. The sources also said gunship helicopters destroyed a training centre and the militants’ headquarters. Over the last several weeks of intensified operations, troops have reportedly flushed out militants from various areas of Charmang valley in Bajaur, including Matak, Hashim and Chinar villages.
Ten militants were killed when military planes bombed suspected positions of militants in the South Waziristan Agency on July 22. The AFP quoted an official as saying that the planes bombed two places in the Sarwakai area of South Waziristan. "Our jets hit a militant base in Gurguri and a Taliban compound in Ous Pass in Sarwakai. Both were destroyed and a total of four militants were killed," the military official said. The militants killed in the strikes reportedly belonged to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, he said. Official sources said that a training centre run by Baitullah Mehsud’s group was destroyed in Gurguri while some houses were bombed in the Ous Pass area. Further, four bodies, including two of sons of a slain militant commander, were found on the Tank-Jandola road on July 22, Police said. The bullet-riddled bodies, said to be of Idrees and Sher Qanoon, the sons of late militant commander Gul Pir, Jamshed and Younus, were found near the Fauji bridge. Gul Pir, a supporter of Baitullah Mehsud, was killed during an operation in the Sheikh Utar area two days ago.
Two volunteers of a tribal militia were killed when their companions mistakenly opened fire on them at Ambar sub-division in Mohmand Agency on July 20. Sources said the two militia men, identified as Khayal Shah and Yousuf, came under fire by their own colleagues, who mistook them for militants. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, July 21-27, 2009.
ISI spreading terrorism in India, says US Admiral Mike Mullen: US Admiral Mike Mullen affirmed ahead of a meeting with the visiting Indian Army Chief Deepak Kapoor that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s external intelligence, has been fomenting terrorism in India and Afghanistan. Mike Mullen, who told the Arabic television network Al Jazeera hours before of his meeting with General Deepak Kapoor on July 23, 2009 that in the long run the ISI has to change its strategic thrust, which has been to foment chaotic activity in its border countries. ‘‘What I mean is that they have clearly focused on support of ... historically, of militant organizations both east and west. I mean that’s been a focus of theirs in Kashmir, historically, as well as in FATA. And I think ... that fundamentally has to change.’’ Mullen added. Times of India, July 25, 2009.
Osama bin Laden’s son may have been killed in US missile attack: One of Osama bin Laden’s sons "may be dead", a US counter-terrorism official told AFP on July 23, 2009 after reports he was likely killed by a US missile strike in Pakistan earlier in 2009. "There are some indications that he may be dead, but it’s not 100 per cent certain," the unnamed official said, adding "If he is dead, Saad bin Laden was a small player with a big name. He has never been a major operational figure." An administration official said the Al Qaeda leader’s third-oldest son "was likely killed in Pakistan". National Public Radio (NPR) reported on July 22 that Saad bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by Hellfire missiles fired from a US Predator drone "sometime this year". US intelligence agencies are "80 to 85 per cent" sure that Saad bin Laden is dead, a senior counter-terrorism official told NPR, acknowledging it was difficult to be completely sure without a body to conduct DNA tests on. It was unclear whether Saad bin Laden was close to the location of his father, who is believed to be hiding in the mountainous tribal belt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, when he died. According to the US Treasury, Saad bin Laden, who is believed to have been in his 20s, was part of a small group of Al Qaeda operatives who helped manage the organisation from Iran, where he was arrested in 2003. He also allegedly helped facilitate communications between Al Qaeda’s number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, following an Al Qaeda attack on the US embassy in Yemen in 2008. The News, July 24, 2009.
New political formation of LTTE announced: Addressed as originating from the headquarters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an Executive Committee on July 21, 2009 announced a restructuring of the organization and the leadership of Selvarasa Pathmanathan in taking up the future course of the movement, the pro-LTTE Website Tamil Net reported. "We have set up a head office for our liberation movement and formulated various sector-based working groups and an executive committee," a press release on behalf of the Executive Committee said adding that the details will be shared in due course. The press release claimed the announcement is a collective decision arrived at after consultations "among our members, including our cadres who bravely fought their way out of the battlefield and our representatives abroad and in the Diaspora." "The Eelam Tamil people are in the midst of a critical and sorrowful period in the history of the struggle for freedom of our nation, Tamil Eelam. No one can deny the fact that we have experienced massive and irreparable losses, losses we would not accept even in our worst dreams," the LTTE’s statement said, adds Express Buzz. It was the Tamils’ ‘historic duty’ to rise up and fight for their ‘legitimate’ rights, it said. But like all liberation struggles, the LTTE had decided to ‘modify’ the form and strategies of the struggle according to the times and the exigencies of the situation. However, the ‘Honorable Mr Veluppillai Prabhakaran shall remain forever, the leader of Tamil Nation hood’, the statement added.
The statement also said the LTTE had set up a headquarters, but did not disclose the location. It had also set up sector-based working groups and an executive committee to take the struggle forward ‘vigorously’. The LTTE, it stated, was also looking for ‘wise counsel’ from the general Tamil public. In conclusion, the statement said, "If the Sinhala nation and those countries which support it consider that the Tamil peoples’ freedom struggle has been defeated through the capture of the historical homeland areas of the Tamil people and the massacre of thousands of Tamil civilians, we shall consider that an illusion. Let us demonstrate to the world through our actions, that the fire of freedom awakened by our great leader V Pirabakaran continues to burn in the hearts of all Tamils, and only a free Tamil nation has the power to extinguish it." Tamil Net; Express Buzz, July 22, 2009.