SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Quoting intelligence reports on August 7, 2009, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack which targeted his father-in-law Maulana Ikramuddin's house in the Laddha sub-division of South Waziristan on August 5. "Based on information gleaned from intelligence reports, the news of Baitullah's death is correct. But we are going for ground verification, and when the information has been confirmed, then we will be 100 percent sure," he told reporters in Islamabad. He also told BBC Radio that it was "pretty certain" that the Taliban chief was dead. A Taliban commander and aide to Baitullah Mehsud, Kafayatullah, meanwhile, told Associated Press: "I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan."
Reports since August 5 have indicated that Taliban commanders were meeting in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to choose a successor. It was, however, unclear when they might make an announcement. There is strong speculation that the strongest contenders for the leadership are Hakimullah Mehsud, Maulana Azmatullah and Wali-ur-Rehman. Hakimullah Mehsud, for long an important leader in the Taliban hierarchy and a deputy to Baitullah, commands the TTP militants in the Orakzai, Khyber and Kurram Agencies of FATA. Azmatullah, like his slain chief Baitullah, hails from the Shahbikhel sub-tribe of the Mehsud tribe. He is an important 'commander' and also a member of the Taliban shura (executive council). Wali-ur-Rehman, another prominent member of the shura, was a former spokesman and deputy of Baitullah Mehsud. There has been a power struggle within the TTP for quite some time now and that explains the delay in announcing Baitullah's death and the successor. There are, at the time of writing, unconfirmed reports that Hakimullah Mehsud was shot dead in a fight with Wali-ur-Rehman during a shura meeting somewhere in South Waziristan. Reports of Hakimullah Mehsud's death, however, could not be independently verified. There are also some unconfirmed reports that an ailing Baitullah had already announced Wali-ur-Rehman as his successor before he died.
Whoever assumes the TTP leadership, there will be some strain on the unity and ranks. One of the crucial qualities that distinguished Baitullah from the other Taliban commanders was his ability to forge unity and consistently maintain a coalition of tribal loyalties, not an easy task, given the diversity and mutual tribal antagonisms that dominate the social and political matrix in the FATA.
As confirmation of Baitullah's death comes, it will constitute a critical setback for the TTP, inflicting a measure of demoralisation among the rank and file. The TTP, however, which has exhibited wider movement-like characteristics, is not over-dependent on personalities. Under some continuous pressure from both US Predator strikes and the Pakistan Army's campaign of bombings and missile and artillery strikes, moreover, the TTP will have anticipated the possible neutralization of some of its leaders, and can be expected to have prepared for such an eventuality. If the past trajectory is any indication, there will be another leader in the saddle soon enough, to carry on the jihad.
Crucially, the TTP's strategic goals are not expected to undergo any radical change under any of the possible successors. A strong anti-US agenda will, indeed, be further intensified as news of Baitullah's death in a US Predator strike sinks in, and the TTP's extreme hostility to the establishment at Islamabad can only worsen. There will certainly be some changes in tactics, but these are likely to have minimal strategic impact, and cannot be expected to diminish the group's capacity for orchestrating violence and subversion in the region.
Under Baitullah Mehsud, the TTP had been able to create a wider corps of warriors, whose exact strength is not known, though Pakistani reports mentions up to 20,000 to 30,000 armed men, including 2,000 to 3,000 foreign militants. In case the power struggle within the TTP intensifies in the immediate future, however, the Al Qaeda may assume a larger role in shaping the TTP's strategic direction. Any further fissures within the TTP may, for instance, allow Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani aka Khalifa Siraj, who are more closely linked to Al Qaeda and with their safe havens in Waziristan, to come to dominate the TTP. The Afghan Taliban would also like to have a TTP chief who is more open to operational co-operation, especially for attacks on the US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
In the weeks and months to come, Islamabad and Washington will naturally use their intelligence assets within the TTP to exploit and deepen whatever fissures there are at the moment within the group. It remains to be seen how these assets will be able to take advantage of the momentary disarray. There has been much talk of a dialogue with the 'good Taliban'. The US Administration continues its quest for a 'negotiated settlement' with the 'good Taliban' in Afghanistan. The success of the US Administration's much touted 'AfPak strategy' depends largely on weakening the Taliban militarily and subsequently negotiating with them from a position of strength. This necessarily involves the futile search for what has been described as the 'moderate Taliban' or worse still, the 'good Taliban'. Despite the repeated failures of such a quest, successive regimes in both Washington and Islamabad continue to pin their hopes on this irrational 'strategy'. The diverse streams of the Taliban share the same ideological vision and strategy of terrorist violence. Most Islamist terrorist groups in Pakistan – be it the TTP, Taliban, Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), or others – have the same ideological worldview, and are integrally interlinked. These linkages and common ideological foundations underpin the essential logic and dynamic of their operations.
There is some euphoria in Islamabad's strategic establishment over Baitullah Mehsud's death, though any possible Pakistani role cannot have gone beyond the provision of ground intelligence, and the eventual strike was carried out by a US drone. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has described Baitullah Mehsud as a murderous thug and, while there may be considerable anger against Islamabad among TTP partisans, it is America which will be reinforced as the evil kafir (unbeliever) on the ground in FATA and elsewhere in Pakistan. Anti-US sentiments, already at a high in Pakistan, are consequently bound to amplify in the immediate future, and can be expected to be transformed into targeted violence, both within Pakistan and Afghanistan and against American interests elsewhere in the world.
The leadership issue within the TTP will, inevitably, be settled one way or another. Once that happens, the commanders and foot-soldiers from various regions will regroup, and, in the days ahead, calls for revenge will grow loud. There are bound to be retaliatory attacks, including suicide bombings and fidayeen (suicide squad) attacks. In Afghanistan, this can only complicate an already difficult situation, with elections for a new President scheduled for August 20, 2009. Almost half of Afghanistan, incidentally, is already at a high risk of attack by the Taliban and other militants or is under "enemy control," an Afghan Government map shows, an indication of the grim state of play before presidential elections. The threat assessment map, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, shows 133 of Afghanistan's 356 Districts as "high-risk areas" with at least 13 under "enemy control." The map shows virtually "the entire south of the country under extreme risk of attack, a vast swathe stretching from Farah in the west through Helmand province in the south and east toward provinces such as Paktia and Nangarhar near the Pakistan border." An independent assessment by the International Council on Security and Development described the Taliban as having achieved a "permanent presence" in as much as 72 per cent of Afghan territory by the end of 2008.
At another level, Baitullah's killing further underlines the reality that Pakistan will act against terrorist groups on its soil only when its hand is forced. Baitullah, it needs to underscored, was long propped up by Pakistani state agencies as a 'strategic asset', until he and the TTP turned renegade after the ham-handed Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad in July 2007. Despite their operations against Islamabad and its authority across the country, Pakistan's response against the TTP remained muted, till intense US pressure, the rising bloodbath in Swat and the collapse of the state in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) forced an escalating military response – albeit one that was indiscriminate and ineffective, overwhelmingly targeting and displacing civilians. Significantly, jihadi groups that target India and Afghanistan, which continue to be regarded as Pakistan's strategic assets, have escaped state action, despite increasing global and particularly US pressure.
While there is bound to be some momentary disarray within the TTP and a possible, though brief, respite from the violence, Baitullah's death will not result in any far-reaching reversal of Islamabad's fortunes, as far as the multiple insurgencies afflicting Pakistan are concerned. It may be recalled that the neutralization of the then Taliban 'commander' for Pakistan, Nek Muhammad, in a missile attack in South Waziristan on June 18, 2004, also provoked wildly optimistic assessments, but failed to establish any measure of peace or stability in the region. In fact, within weeks of Nek Muhammad's death, Baitullah Mehsud emerged as the principal 'commander' in the region. After forging unity among 13 militant factions and a degree of military consolidation, Baitullah declared himself leader of the Pakistan Taliban some time in late 2007.
The TTP remains intact, despite the temporary reversals in Swat and Malakand Division of the Frontier, and in spite of all earlier military operations. It will survive Baitullah Mehsud's death and its momentary decapitation.
Without Will, Purpose or Capacity
On June 18, 2009, nine Security Force (SF) personnel lost their lives in a landmine attack near Narayanpatna in the Koraput District while they were trying to open up road communication from Lakshmipur to Narayanpatna, which had remained partially blocked since June 15, and completely after June 17, due to activities of the Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS or the Peasants, Labourers and Tribals Association) and the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). Road connectivity was finally restored on June 27 by Commandos from the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Orissa Police and the para-military Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which moved with mechanical tree-cutting equipment and heavy earth movers to clear the road. During the operation, more than 170 trees were removed from the road and two large trenches were filled along the 22 kilometer road.
Narayanpatna was only the most recent of a continuous succession of Maoist-related incidents in Orissa's severely affected southern border areas – the Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Gajapati and Kandhamal Districts – where there are unmistakable signs of a Maoist consolidation and of their attempts to transform the region into a 'guerrilla zone'.
In the Narayanpatna Block, the Maoist-backed CMAS, functioning under the leadership of Nachika Linga, has primarily been agitating to forcibly take over agricultural land from non-tribals, as it believes that non-tribals have occupied such lands from tribals by deceit. The roots of CMAS can be traced to the Ryot Kuli Sangham located in Parvatipuram in the Vizianagaram District of Andhra Pradesh, when it functioned as one of its units under the name Chasi Mulia Sangham. In 2006, after Orissa banned the organistion, the group re-emerged as the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha. The CMAS came into prominence in 2006, when it captured some 50 acres of non-tribal land in the Podapadar Gram Panchayat (village local self-government unit) in Koraput. So far, CMAS is reported to have forcibly taken over some 2,000 acres of land from non-tribals in areas around Narayanpatna. CMAS supporters plant red flags around agricultural plots and simply proclaim these as theirs. Though Nachika Linga claims that CMAS is linked to the Gananath Patra faction of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML), the involvement of Maoists is evident, not only from the landmine attack, but also a declaration of support from the Maoists. Over the past six months, CMAS supporters have been involved in several violent incidents, including murder and arson, leading to an exodus of non-tribals (one report mentioned more than 210 families) from the area, with some of them now lodged in relief camps set up by the State Government at Radhakrishna College and Tehsil Office in Narayanpatna, and outside the District Collectorate in Koraput Town. In May 2009, CMAS activists killed a 40-year-old man, Nitya Melka, at Gotiguda village in Narayanpatna block. In the neighbouring Bandhugaon block, CMAS activists, under the leadership of Kondagiri Paidama, have occupied about 250 acres of non-tribal land with the 'consent' of land holders. CMAS activists also destroyed two nurseries at Musulimunda and Ambaguda in June 2009, alleging that the horticultural work encroached on tribal farmlands.
The occupied lands, according to Nachika Linga, have been distributed among the tribals village-wise. Responding to the Maoist-backed intervention in the revenue and agriculture systems, several Revenue Inspectors (RI), under the direction of Satyabrata Sahu, the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (South), were pressed into service to settle land disputes. However, the RIs withdrew, after serving for a week, fearing a CMAS backlash. Further, a dialogue between the Koraput District Collector, Gadadhar Parida, and Nachika Linga, the CMAS leader, to settle the issues, has failed. In addition, the directive of the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC-Southern Division), to depute a Joint Commissioner, who was to camp in Narayanpatna for seven days every month to take up land disputes related to the alleged take over of tribal land by non-tribals suo motu for settlement, has also not met with much success.
As in Narayanpatna, the broad strategy of the Maoists is to arouse and mobilise people around a range of local 'partial struggles', making backward rural areas their main centers of action, building up the people's army and people's militia, establishing dependable strong and self-sufficient 'base areas' in the remote countryside and later gradually expanding to the 'advanced areas' to eventually encircle the urban centers. The establishment of 'base areas', where the State presence is completely destroyed and where the rule of the 'revolutionary people's government' is established, is of crucial importance as the Maoists "rely on these strategic bases to fulfill their strategic tasks." The base areas constitute the rear of the guerrilla armies, and in their absence, it would be impossible to advance the objectives of the protracted 'people's war'. Till such base areas are established, however, the objective is to turn isolated, impoverished or otherwise troubled regions into 'red resistance zones', particularly where sufficient economic resources and a substantial population combine with difficult terrain, where the state's presence is weak. In these 'red resistance zones' the Maoists take up local issues, 'partial struggles', to organize the masses, initially, for militant political activity, but eventually, for guerilla warfare and the protracted people's war.
It is significant, in this context that the 'strategic areas' identified by the CPI-Maoist in their Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution document of September 21, 2004, include the extensive area of Dandakaranya, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, the Andhra-Orissa Border, and the North Telangana and Koel-Kaimur areas. The Maoists believe they will be able to build these areas into a contiguous area of armed struggle, with each area influencing the other. As these areas get consolidated, the Maoists are expected to utilize their impact on the surrounding areas and develop them into guerilla zones, expanding the area of armed struggle.
It is in the context of efforts to develop the [Andhra-] Orissa Border into a 'guerrilla zone' that the incidents in Narayanpatna acquire importance. Narayanpatna is a key transit zone for the insurgents between the States of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, bordering the extremist-affected Makau Police Station area in Andhra Pradesh. Maoists from Andhra Pradesh on their way to Orissa' highly affected Malkangiri District usually cross over into Narayanpatna from Makau. They subsequently travel via Kutia, Pottangi and Padua in Koraput District to reach the rural areas of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, which are linked to the remote areas of Malkangiri District. By strengthening their grasp over Narayanpatna, the Maoists will be able to ease communication between their strongholds in Andhra Pradesh and the Koraput and Malkangiri Districts in Orissa.
Evolving within this framework, CMAS has formed armed squads to protect tribals against apprehensions of attack by non-tribals. Boys and girls are being recruited into the armed outfit Ghenua Bahini Sangha (GBS, named after a local militant leader, Arjun Katreka alias Ghenua) and tasked with providing protection to tribals during rallies, meetings and land-occupation activities. Nachika Linga declares, "GBS has been formed in every tribal village. As many as 10 to 30 tribal youths from each village have been inducted. They are trained to use our traditional weapons. They maintain peace and harmony in their respective villages and also provide security to the CMAS members during major events."
Land taken over by the CMAS was redistributed among different villages and not among individual cultivators. This has provided an excellent opportunity to the Maoists to keep the flock together and consolidate their position among the locals. After taking possession of all the land around the villages, the tribals have reportedly been encouraged to engage in collective farming.
A senior Police official in Koraput told SAIR that, as the State has decided not to take Police action against CMAS and was trying to settle the land issue through investigation by the revenue department, it would take years to address the problem, providing fertile grounds to the Maoists to strengthen their base. A senior Police official in Rayagada, further, revealed to SAIR that the Maoists were rapidly moving towards putting in place full-fledged Area Committees in Orissa. Area Committees provide the crucial link in the party organization between the Division and State Committees above and Local Guerrilla Squads, Special Guerrilla Squads, Action Squads and village level Cells below. The Area Committee co-ordinates the action of front organsations and underground organizations, and also looks after the formation of militia in the area.
The attack on the public sector National Aluminum Company Limited (NALCO) mines at Panchpatmali near Damanjodi on April 12, 2009, and attacks on two Police Stations and a Police Outpost in Koraput District in the night of June 7 are indices of Maoist intent and strategy. There are, in addition, reports that around 200 locals were recruited by the CPI-Maoist to strengthen their newly formed Machkund Dalam (squad) under the Koraput-Malkangiri division.
While the Maoist move rapidly to advance their strategic and tactical objectives, the Orissa Government is still to find its feet. Sources in the Union Home Ministry disclosed that Orissa was among the few States that refuse to invest swiftly in Police capacity building. The State Government, on the other hand, is happy to blame the Centre for its inability to control the Maoist insurgency. Replying in the State Assembly to an adjournment motion on Maoist activities, the Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who won an unprecedented third tenure in June 2009, stated on July 21, 2009, "…. there is not enough central assistance to counter Naxalites in the state effectively. Among the various requests, which I have made to the Ministry of Home Affairs, I would like to mention our need for four battalions of central paramilitary forces on a long-term basis and three more for short-term engagement to control the menace. Our request for a dedicated helicopter also has not been acceded to…"
The White Paper issued by the Orissa Government on July 24, 2009, concedes that the Maoist insurgency is a major threat to the safety and security of the State. The White Paper reveals that 56 Maoist attacks claimed the lives of 74 SF personnel and 22 civilians in 2008, as against two SF personnel and 13 civilian fatalities in 2007. Almost half of the total Districts in the State – 14 out of 30 – are affected by Maoist insurgency. The Orissa Government, however, still insists that the State is "by and large peaceful." Open source reportage monitoring in the last three years by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, however, indicates that at least 22 Districts in the State are affected by the Maoist activities – a figure central intelligence sources concur with.
Maoist-related fatalities in Orissa, 2006-2009
Source: Data 2006-2007: Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India
Data 2008-2009: South Asia Terrorism Portal
*Data till August 3, 2009
On the State Government's action against Maoists, Chief Minister Patnaik disclosed that 59 CPI-Maoist cadres, including some top leaders, had been arrested and eight Maoists killed in different encounters during 2008. The Chief Minister also stated that some suggestions given by the Orissa Police Association to effectively combat the Maoists, such as fortification of Police Stations, provision of barracks and imparting suitable training to the Policemen, had been implemented 'to a large extent'. The State Government, he claimed, was already providing a suitable incentive package to Police personnel involved in anti-Maoist operations. Further, he stated, another 3,000 tribal youth from the insurgency-affected areas will be recruited as Special Police Officers (SPOs). This will be in addition to the existing 2,100 SPOs. A special recruitment drive by the Army, which the Chief Minister has requested the Ministry of Defence to carry out, is, moreover, aimed at preventing tribal youth from being enlisted by the Maoists. Other programmes announced by Patnaik include plans to open at least one Industrial Training Institute in each block to enhance employability of the youth; spending at least INR 200,000 per District in tribal areas for sports activities; and filling up vacant paramedical staff posts in all schedule areas of Orissa. The Chief Minister disclosed that another 4,000 Home Guards would be engaged, with special emphasis on Maoist affected Districts. Another initiative to try and counter the Maoists was the withdrawal or dropping of petty cases against tribals. As many as 9,000 minor forest offences and 3,000 other cases against tribals have reportedly been dropped.
There are, however, serious chinks in the State Government's armour. Despite declared intentions, the State has a severe handicap in training its Police personnel, with a capacity to train a maximum of 300 personnel in nine months. To augment the capacity, the State has opened one training School in each of the seven Police ranges. However, one District Police Superintendent told SAIR that these training centers have no trainers at all. Neither is there any dedicated officer to monitor the progress and the quality of training. The officer opined, moreover, that the current recruitment policy failed to give due importance to strength and endurance. Furthermore, sources in Delhi indicate that not a single retired Army officer has so far come forward to head the proposed counter-insurgency school to be set up in Orissa.
The State Government's neglect has also been documented in detail by the latest Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) Report, which reviews the period 2002-2007. On Police modernization, the Report points out, Orissa did not spend more than 30 per cent of the total plan outlay of INR 2,441.7 million over the period 2000-04. With an augmenting Maoist insurgency to combat, returning allocated funds reflects a colossal administrative failure. INR 422.6 million reportedly lay idle in deposits. The Report noted, at the same time, that the Orissa Police lacked modern weapons and other equipment. The CAG Report has also noted that:
More ominously, there have been occasions when the Orissa Police has failed to act on intelligence received. About the Narayanpatna incident of June 18, 2009, a CRPF officer lamented, "I have been intimating the Orissa Police for the past six months, but they chose not to take any action." He was quoted as stating that the Narayanpatna incident was the first successful replication of the Lalgarh experiment in Orissa. The Orissa Police has now admitted that the CPI-Maoist were strengthening their base and are capable of attacking SF troops on a large scale in some isolated pockets of the State. Addressing top-rung Police officials at the Biju Patnaik State Police Academy in capital Bhubaneswar on August 7, Director General of Police (Intelligence), Prakash Mishra, said that the Maoists were "ready for positional warfare" and were capable of attacking troops in the Malkangiri and Narayanpatna areas. "They can hold security forces for a longer period," he said, adding that different Districts in Orissa had been controlled by at least "10 divisions" of the CPI-Maoists under various names. While, in many Districts, the Maoists are geared up for early guerilla warfare, there are a few Districts where the insurgents are in an advanced stage of guerilla warfare, he stated: "Angul, Boudh, Kalahandi and Nuapara are some of the Districts which fall into perspective stage. They are now visiting and meeting downtrodden people in these areas. Naxalites are picking up small struggles and extending their support. Moreover, they are trying to rope in teachers, students and intellectuals."
After the abduction and killing of a Sub-Inspector of Police on July 16, a media report quoting different Police personnel stated that the Government was weak and confused on the counter-insurgency strategy. While some Policemen believe the Government is scared of the human rights lobby and the Maoists are consequently taking full advantage, others claimed the Police was not getting the "free hand required in the battle against these anti-nationals." One senior officer was quoted as stating, "The last DG promised that there would be more manpower and a modernised police force in the state but what has really happened so far it is there for everybody to see. The Government only talks big… but when it comes take real action it chickens out. There is no courage."
The State Government's counter-insurgency strategy has come in for more flak from within. Sawarmal Sharma, president of the Orissa Havildar and Constable Federation, has alleged that senior officers "sitting in AC chambers" are "not leading from the front, leaving lowly constables and havildars to patrol mine-infested areas in the heat, fire at encircling Naxal [Maoist] hordes, and die a gory death." Though there is some unfairness in accusing all senior officers, some of Sharma's observations demand urgent attention, particularly in the aftermath of the killing of Sub-Inspector Ajit Bardhan by the Maoists on July 17, 2009. These include: procuring helicopters and allocating more money for the Police; moving the anti-Maoist headquarters from capital Bhubaneswar to the Maoist-dominated areas; a pan-state coordinated anti-Maoist strategy; and the emulation of the successful Andhra Pradesh strategy in Orissa.
The State, sources disclose, has no proper personnel policy for the Police. In the absence of such a policy, some Policemen are posted in the insurgency-affected areas for relatively longer periods, while the 'well connected ones' are able to avoid such postings altogether. This has also led, in some cases, to the less influential Policemen spending more time and energy in trying to avoid postings in the insurgency zones. There also appears to be no consistent policy governing reward or punishment within the Police. A CRPF officer pointed out, further, that the Orissa Police must have a specialized unit to target the top Maoist leadership which is holed up in the urban areas, but no such unit exists.
Most urgent, however, is the crisis of capacities and leadership in the Orissa Police. The State has a Police-population ratio of just 97 per 100,000 (in early 2008), well below the abysmal national average of 125/100,000. There is a virtual collapse at leadership levels. The State has a sanctioned strength of 207 officers in the top Indian Police Service (IPS) ranks, but only 97 officers in position. Rather timorously, the State Government had requested the Centre to allocate at least eight IPS officers from the new batch of recruits in 2009. In its munificence, the Centre has allocated four – a number that will not even account for those who would reach superannuation in the current year. While the Centre can squarely be blamed for this, the State Government has done worse. The State Services Examinations, which select officers to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, have not been held for 33 years – since 1976 – leaving a gaping hole in the officer ranks. Between the ranks of Assistant Sub-Inspector and Inspector of Police, the sanctioned strength stood at 6,315 and the officers in position numbered just 4,345, reflecting a deficit of 31.2 per cent in early 2008.
The Orissa Police is an under-led, under-manned, under-trained, ill-equipped and grossly under-resourced Force, and neither State nor Central Government responses appear to be even remotely in proportion either to the magnitude of its deficits, or to the magnitude of the challenge of the Maoist insurgency confronting the State. The existing structural deficits cannot be met through any policy of incremental augmentation, and there appears to be no will or capacity to respond on a war footing. Under the circumstances, the Maoist rampage can only expand across newer areas, even as it intensifies further in areas of present consolidation in the State.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
August 3-9, 2009
Death sentence for three persons in 2003 Mumbai bomb blasts case: A special Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court in Mumbai on August 6, 2009, sentenced to death all the three persons convicted in the bomb blasts case of August 25, 2003, which claimed 54 lives and injured 244 persons. The case comprises blasts at the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar on August 25, 2003, and also the blast aboard a bus at Ghatkopar on July 28, 2003, and the planting of a bomb in a bus in the Santa Cruz Electronics Export Processing Zone on December 2, 2002, which, however, did not explode. Judge M.R. Puranik, after pronouncing the sentence against Haneef Sayyed, his wife Fahmeeda and Ashrat Ansari, said they "shall be hanged by the neck till they are dead." They were sentenced under three Sections: 120B of the Indian Penal code (IPC) for hatching a criminal conspiracy to cause bomb blasts, 120B read with Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the IPC, and 120B read with 3 (2) (a) of the POTA, stipulating the punishment for a terrorist act. They were given life term under Section 120B read with 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC. Life term was awarded for offences under POTA's Sections 3 (3) for attempting to commit a terrorist act and 4 (b) for unauthorised possession of arms. They were also given life term under Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908, (punishment for causing explosion likely to endanger life or property). The Hindu, August 7, 2009.
Lashkar-e-Toiba planning to target Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad ahead of Independence Day: Ahead of the Independence Day on August 15, 2009, the Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is planning to target three major cities – Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad – Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials said. Intelligence agencies have given specific inputs that the LeT is planning to target the three cities in the run-up to the Independence Day, an unnamed official said. The Union Government has already shared the information with the Governments of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh besides informing Delhi Police for necessary action. "The next 10 days are very crucial. We are taking all necessary steps to foil the designs of LeT to strike at the three cities," an official said. The intelligence inputs shared included an interrogation report of some recently arrested terrorists along the Line of Control (LoC), who claimed that they had been tasked to meet some of the terror cells in these cities to carry out attacks ahead of Independence Day. Times of India, August 7, 2009.
38 militants and 14 civilians among 60 persons killed during the week in FATA: Taliban militants on August 9, 2009, attacked an Army convoy using a remote controlled bomb in North Waziristan, killing two Security Force (SF) personnel and injuring three others. The convoy was heading from Mir Ali to Miranshah, when the bomb exploded at Norak on the Mir Ali-Miranshah road, 15 kilometres east of the Agency headquarters.
A Khwazai peace committee chief with five others, and 11 Taliban militants were killed in a clash in the Payazai sub-division of Mohmand Agency on August 9. A political administration official said a group of Taliban militants attacked the peace committee chief Malik Ajmal's residence at around 2 am. Ajmal's security guards and volunteers retaliated, killing 11 militants. However, Ajmal and five of his men were also killed in the attack. Ajmal Khan was a pro-government tribal elder, who captured 12 Taliban militants and handed them over to the SFs last week.
The SFs killed two militants and destroyed six militant hideouts in a search operation in the Nawagai and Salarzai sub-divisions of Bajaur Agency on August 7. Official sources said troops during search operations in various areas of Charmang sub-division destroyed hideouts and underground bunkers and killed two militants.
Ten people were killed and seven others sustained injuries during clashes between two rival militant groups in the remote Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency on August 7. Sources said the fighting between Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and Ansar-ul-Islam (AI) started when AI cadres captured a post in the Kookikhel area. After a fierce clash, with both sides using heavy guns, the post was recaptured by the LI militants. Sources said the dead included six AI men, three from the LI and a non-combatant. Those killed from the LI also included 'commander' Rangeen Khan. The civilian was killed when a mortar shell landed at a house.
Nine militants were killed and two others sustained injuries during an operation by the SFs in different areas of the Nawagai and Salarzai subdivisions in Bajaur Agency on August 6. The SFs targeted Taliban hideouts in the Chinar, Kohi, Manugai and Banda areas of Nawagai and Darra, Ghundi and Sur Dagai areas of Salarzai. The troops also arrested three Taliban militants during a search operation in the Manugai area of Nawagai. Meanwhile in Khar, headquarters of the Bajaur Agency, Taliban militants opened fire on a Bajaur Levies soldier, Alam Khan, killing him on the spot. Separately, two persons, including a soldier, were killed during an operation against the banned Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) in the Akakhel Mera area of Bara sub-division in Khyber Agency on August 6. The troops are reported to have surrounded the centre of the Akakhel unit of the LI and, in the ensuing encounter, one soldier and an LI militant were killed while five LI members were arrested.
Five civilians and four SF personnel were killed and six civilians and an equal number of SF personnel were wounded in the North Waziristan Agency on August 3. Militants fired rockets and missiles at an Army camp, northeast of Miranshah, killing four Army personnel and seriously injuring another six. Separately, a missile hit a house in the Chashma village, one kilometre south of Miranshah, killing three civilians and injuring three others. In retaliation, the troops fired shells, targeting the sites from where the Taliban militants were launching attacks. Further, Taliban militants attacked an Army camp in the Datakhel area, 40 kilometres west of Miranshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan Agency. A Taliban-launched rocket hit a house killing two women and wounding another three.
Three militants were killed and several others injured when the SFs targeted suspected hideouts of the militants in different areas of Salarzai sub-division in Bajaur Agency on August 3. Official sources said the SFs targeted the militant hideouts in Darra, Ghundai and Sor Dagay areas with artillery fire, killing three militants and injuring several others. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, August 4-10, 2009.
57 militants among 60 persons killed in NWFP: Two civilians and a Policeman were killed when Taliban militants ambushed a Police convoy in the Bannu District on August 9, 2009. Separately, the Security Forces (SFs) killed a leader of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) after an exchange of fire in the Malanari area of Dera Ismail Khan District on the same day.
At least 19 persons were killed and more than 18 injured in a gunfight between pro and anti–Baitullah Mehsud groups in the Tank District on August 7. The clashes broke out soon after media reports saying that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud might have been killed in a missile strike by US drones in South Waziristan on August 5. A private TV channel reported that Baitullah's men attacked two offices of peace committees run by Turkistan Bhitani in the Imamkhel and Umerada areas of Tank. Around 200 armed militants reportedly took part in the pre-dawn raid. The gunfight continued for about two hours, the channel reported. Turkistan Bhitani, who had won the backing of the Government after challenging Baitullah Mehsud in Tank and South Waziristan, had set up the camps in Government school buildings. Bhitani joined the anti-Taliban campaign after 40 of his men had been killed by supporters of Baitullah in 2008. Separately, SFs on August 7 said they killed two Taliban militants and arrested five others in the ongoing operation in Swat District.
A Taliban commander killed six militants before being shot dead by another militant in the Batara area of Chagharzai in Buner District late on August 6. Sources said the Taliban 'commander' Shah Zar Khan from Choga area developed differences with his associates over the July 29 attack on the house of Haji Khalil, an activist of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Shah Zar is reported to have opened fire on his colleagues when they were offering Maghrib prayers, killing six of them on the spot, while he himself was killed by another militant, deputed to guard them. The militants later killed the son of Shah Zar who was stated to be a militant as well. Shah Zar was said to be a close relative of Haji Khalil and both hailed from the same village.
SFs killed seven Taliban militants and arrested 21 others in the ongoing military operation in Swat and Malakand, the ISPR said on August 6. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said SFs killed four militants during an encounter at Samsel Bandai near Kabal, while two others were killed during a search operation in Amankot. A Taliban militant was also killed in the Rashghatta-Kokarai area near Jambil. Elsewhere in the province, unidentified persons shot dead two shopkeepers in Dera Ismail Khan on August 6. Police sources said Ajab Khan and Akhtar Khan were on their way home after closing their shop in Dahoter area when unidentified persons opened fire on them, killing them on the spot. Reports said the two belonged to a banned religious group.
SFs said on August 5 that they, in collaboration with local militias, had killed eight militants during the ongoing military operation in Swat and Dir Districts. "The local Lashkar [militia], during a search operation backed by the Frontier Corps, killed four terrorists at Dog Darra in Dir, including Taliban commander Shakoor," the ISPR said in a statement. The Lashkar also destroyed the houses of nine Taliban militants. According to the Online news agency, the militia killed five militants, adding that three of the deceased were Afghan nationals, while the remaining two were residents of Swat. The ISPR said another four Taliban militants had been killed in two different areas of Swat. It said the SFs, during a search operation at Goratai, had killed three extremists, including an explosives expert. In a separate incident, another member of the Taliban was killed in Kotah near Barikot and some arms and ammunition was recovered.
SFs killed at least six Taliban militants in fighting in the Kabal and Barikot areas on August 4, while a soldier was killed and another sustained injuries. Sources said dead bodies of five of the slain militants were recovered. While three dead bodies were recovered from Manglor on the outskirts of Mingora, two other dead bodies were recovered from Landai Kas and Qazi Abad areas.
Jets shelled Taliban hideouts and killed at least five militants near Swat on August 3. The aircraft raided Dok Darra town after intelligence reports said that a large number of militants had gathered in the area, military spokesman Major Nasir Ali Khan said. "The bombing destroyed three Taliban bases and killed five militants," he said. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, August 4-10, 2009.
Government confirms TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud's death: On August 7, 2009, the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in South Waziristan on August 5. "Based on information gleaned from intelligence reports, the news of Baitullah's death is correct. But we are going for ground verification, and when the information has been confirmed, then we will be 100 percent sure," he told reporters in Islamabad. He also told BBC Radio that it was "pretty certain" that the Taliban chief was dead, Reuters reported. A Taliban commander and aide to Baitullah Mehsud, meanwhile, told Associated Press that the TTP chief was killed in the US strike. "I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan," Taliban commander Kafayatullah said by telephone. He did not give any further details. Baitullah Mehsud was allegedly killed in a drone attack on August 5 while visiting his father-in-law Maulana Ikramuddin's house in the Laddha sub-division. The attack also resulted in the deaths of one of his wives, Ikramuddin's daughter, and over half-a-dozen guards. "Information is coming from that area that he is dead… I am unable to confirm unless I have solid evidence," said Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Daily Times, August 8, 2009.
Government issues list of 25 banned outfits: The Government announced that 25 extremist and militant groups and welfare organisations affiliated to them have so far been banned because of their involvement in terrorist activities. In a written reply submitted on August 5, 2009, in response to a question in the National Assembly, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the banned organisations included Al Qaeda, Sipah-e-Mohammed Pakistan (SMP), Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Fiqah Jafaria, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Jama'at-ud-Da'awa, Al Akhtar Trust, Al Rasheed Trust (ART), Tehrik-e-Islami, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Islamic Students Movement, Khairun Nisa International Trust, Tehrik-e-Islam Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Lashkar-e-Islam, Balochistan Liberation Army, Jamiat-e-Ansar, Jamiatul Furqan, Hizbut Tehrir, Khuddam-e-Islam and Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan.
Malik said the Jama'at-ud-Da'awa, Al Akhtar Trust, and Al Rasheed Trust were banned on December 10, 2008, after they were named in the United Nations Security Council Resolution No 1267 and the Sunni Tehrik was placed on the 'watch list'. He said law-enforcement agencies were closely monitoring their activities and stern action was being taken against people taking part in objectionable activities. Dawn, August 6, 2009.
UPFA Government wins Uva Provincial Council and Jaffna Municipal Council elections: The ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) party secured a comfortable victory in the elections for the Uva Provincial Council (PC) held on August 8, 2009 winning both the Badulla and Moneragala Districts. The UPFA received over 80 per cent of votes in the Moneragala District and over 60 per cent in Badulla which was a traditional stronghold for the main opposition United National Party (UNP). The UNP received the highest number of votes in Badulla polling division securing 34.40 per cent. Around 80 per cent of postal votes were cast in favour of the ruling party.
Voters in Jaffna elected the ruling party to govern the Jaffna Municipal Council (MC). The UPFA secured 13 seats of the 23-member MC and the Tamil National Alliance-affiliated Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchchi (ITAK) secured eight seats. An independent group and Tamil United Liberation Front led by V. Anandasangaree won one seat each.
In Vavuniya, the ITAK won a majority of five seats in the 11-member Urban Council (UC) while the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam-affiliated Democratic People's Liberation Front secured three seats. The UPFA came in third with two seats while the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress won one seat.
In both the Northern elections, the main opposition UNP was defeated and failed to secure more than two percent of the votes. Colombo Page, August 9, 2009.
Newly appointed LTTE chief Kumaran Pathmanathan arrested in Bangkok: The newly appointed chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Kumaran Pathmanathan alias Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingam alias Selvarajah Pathmanathan alias KP, was arrested from Bangkok in Thailand on August 6, 2009. "He has been arrested in Bangkok. That is all we know at the moment," military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said, according to Reuters. Kumaran Pathmanathan was brought to Colombo and is now being interrogated, reports The Island. Colombo Page added that he was arrested by the Sri Lankan law enforcement authorities in Bangkok. He was evading international law enforcement authorities and reportedly hiding in Thailand.
Kumaran Pathmanathan, who had been the LTTE's international relations chief till he claimed the LTTE leadership after the Army killed LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in May 2009, previously functioned as the group's main arms procurer. In September 2007, though there were media reports of KP's arrest in Bangkok, Thailand denied the reports. He subsequently reappeared under the name S. Pathmanathan and handled the LTTE's international political arm. Island; Colombo Page, August 7, 2009.