SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 8, No. 50, June 21, 2010
assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form
with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal
Bengal: A Year of Failure
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute
for Conflict Management
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management
claimed that at least 12 Communist Party of India-Maoist
cadres were killed, and ‘many others’ were injured,
in an encounter with the Security Forces (SFs) at Duli
village near Ranja Forest in the Salboni Police Station
area of West Midnapore District of West Bengal on June
16, 2010. Eight bodies were actually recovered, though
senior Police officials said they had "information
that four of the bodies were carried away by Maoists".
desperation to demonstrate a ‘notable success’ after
more than a year of virtual breakdown in the West Midnapore
District, the SFs, including both State Police and Central
Paramilitary Force (CPMF) personnel, disgraced themselves
by parading the enemy fallen strung out on poles like
animal carcasses, to be photographed by the Press. One
‘dreaded Naxalite’ also exhibited before the media,
moreover, turned out to be a mentally challenged mute,
reportedly from a village near the site of the encounter
the response from Delhi has been quick, condemning the
manner in which the Maoist dead were flaunted before
the media, significant damage had already been done.
The incident will certainly provide grist for the CPI-Maoist
propaganda mill. Crucially, however, it also demonstrates
the unpreparedness – if not the incompetence – of the
SFs to deal with the complexities of the campaign against
the Maoists. While political rhetoric continues to muddy
the issue with talk of ‘our own people’ and ‘political
solutions’, with the Centre making repeated and gratuitous
offers of ‘talks’ with the Maoists, the message that
has gone down to the Forces appears to be to chalk up
as many ‘kills’ as possible, and to use these in brutal
displays of dominance across territories that are only
nominally in the state’s control. Whether or not such
‘kills’ constitute any enduring gains within the context
of a sustained counterinsurgency (CI) strategy seems
is not to suggest that the state has not had some manifest
successes beyond the macabre tally of Maoist fatalities.
Bapi Mahato, a senior member of the People’s Committee
against Police Atrocities (PCPA), the Maoist-backed
grouping spearheading the disturbances in West Midnapore,
was arrested by a joint team of the West Bengal and
Jharkhand Police from the Adityapur area of Jamshedpur
in Jharkhand on June 20, 2010. Mahato is the principal
accused in the Gyaneshwari Express incident in which
148 persons were killed. Earlier, on June 4, Khagen
Mahato, another prominent PCPA member, was arrested
from Kharagpur in West Midnapore. On March 2, 2010,
Venkateswar Reddy aka Telugu Dipak, was arrested
from Sarshuna near Calcutta. Dipak was the suspected
mastermind of the February 15, 2010, attack on the Eastern
Frontier Rifles (EFR) camp at Silda, in which 24 EFR
personnel and one civilian were killed. On June 18,
2010, State Chief Secretary Ardhendu Sen disclosed,
moreover, that SFs operating in the Jungalmahal area,
which includes Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore Districts,
had arrested ‘about 400 to 500 Maoists’, though Koteswar
Rao aka Kishanji, CPI-Maoist Politburo member
in charge of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa,
and the brain behind almost all the Maoist attacks in
this region, remained elusive.
Police sources argue, the Duli operation reflects a
new phase of the conflict around Lalgarh,
which commenced in November 2008, after a failed assassination
attempt targeting the State’s Chief Minister, Buddhadeb
Bhattacharya. West Midnapore Superintendent of Police
(SP) Manoj Verma, thus asserted, on June 17, "The situation
in Lalgarh on 18th June 2009 was that the
Police couldn't enter the area. They couldn't leave
Police Stations. They couldn't serve people. In comparison,
today there is no such place that the Police cannot
18, 2009 that the joint SFs, comprising
State Police and CPMF personnel, had launched their
offensive against the Maoists in Lalgarh. For almost
an year since then [till June 15, 2010] more than 4,000
troops launched repeated operations in Lalgarh and its
adjacent areas, but failed to inflict any significant
damage on the Maoist networks [there are currently an
estimated 27 companies of CPMFs and 20 companies of
State Armed Police operating in the area]. According
to data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management
(ICM), a total of 28 Maoists had been killed during
this entire period, as compared to 41 SFs. Moreover,
a staggering total of 304 civilians had been killed
by the Maoists in an around Lalgarh, including 148 killed
in the Gyaneshwari Express derailment incident on May
28, 2010. The most significant Maoist attacks included:
2010: At least 148 passengers were killed when cadres
of the Maoist-backed PCPA sabotaged the railway track
between Khemasoli and Sardiha Railway Stations near
Jhargram in West Midnapore District, causing the derailment
of 13 coaches of the Gyaneshwari Express. Another 145
persons suffered injuries.
15, 2010: Over 100 armed CPI-Maoist cadres attacked
the paramilitary Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) camp
at Silda, just 30 kilometers from Midnapore town, in
the West Midnapore District, on February 15, killing
24 EFR personnel. One civilian who was injured in the
cross fire died later. Another seven troopers were also
8, 2009: CPI-Maoist cadres killed four personnel of
the EFR and looted their arms near a Police camp close
to a school in Gidhni Bazaar area under Jamboni Police
Station area of West Midnapore District.
around Lalgarh has passed through three distinct phases.
In the first phase, between November 2008 and the first
half of June 2009, the Maoists systematically fueled
tribal anger and hijacked the protest movement against
the Police in Lalgarh, combining this campaign with
the selective killing of ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist
(CPI-M) cadres [these killings still continue]. The
second phase commenced on June 18, 2009, when SF operations
commenced, with the Maoists mainly offering defensive
resistance to the SFs, and then gradually resuming their
campaign of targeted annihilation against the CPI-M
cadres and the anti-Maoist Gana Pratirodh Committee.
The third phase began with the attack on the Sankrail
Police Station on October 20, when the Maoists initiated
a direct offensive against the SFs.
incident is being projected as a turnaround in this
context. Police sources insist that the Maoist power
has significantly been dented by infighting. In evidence,
they note that Gurucharan Kisku aka Marshal,
had formed his own squad on February 12, 2010, after
accusing Koteswar Rao of failing to address tribal grievances.
Kisku also declared that Rao was an ‘outsider’, and
did not understand ‘tribal sentiments’. Police also
claim to have been approached by ‘many Maoists’ in West
Bengal, who are willing to surrender. On June 17, West
Bengal Director General of Police (DGP) Bhupinder Singh
stated, "We have received feelers that a number of people
are willing to surrender. However, I can give you neither
any numbers nor other details at this juncture." The
State Government had earlier announced a financial package
for surrendering Maoists. The package followed Central
Government guidelines, with a one-off payment of INR
150,000, vocational training for three months, and INR
2,000 in a monthly stipend for each surrendering cadre.
If arms were also surrendered, they would receive INR
15,000 for an AK-47 rifle, INR 25,000 for a machine
gun, and INR 3,000 for a pistol or revolver, in addition.
of imminent Maoist collapse due to internal dissensions
and loss of morale have, however, long been a staple
of Police and intelligence folklore. Though individual
conflicts have been a fact throughout the existence
of the Naxalite movement, there is little reason to
give credence to any expectations of an existential
crisis within the rebel command structures in the foreseeable
future. It would also be premature to ascribe any extraordinary
strategic significance to the Duli operation, or to
other SF successes, including the key arrests of the
past months. The reality is that Maoist capacities in
the area – and in the wider theatres they have come
to dominate along India’s eastern board – show every
sign of expansion, rather than any dramatic contraction,
in the face of, at best, occasional SF successes.
news reports, for instance, claim that at least 7,000
armed Maoists were active across the West Midnapore,
Purulia and Bankura Districts in West Bengal, and beyond,
into the East Singhbhum District in the neighbouring
State of Jharkhand. The numbers are not entirely incredible,
if both armed Maoist squads and the people’s
militia are taken into account.
The Maoists have demonstrated capacities to assemble
several hundred cadres and militia in several operations
and, in some cases, such numbers have run well over
a thousand. In the February 2, 2010, incident at a Police
Station in the Bankura District, for instance, a mob
of an estimated 2,000 persons had assembled to confront
the Police. Similarly, on May 3, 2009, several thousand
tribals and villagers backed by Maoist armed cadres
had overrun and destroyed Government buildings at the
Kalaimuri Police Camp near Lalgarh.
recruitment also continues in full swing in the Jangalmahal
area, with reports suggesting that mobilisers are targeting
and training significant numbers of teenagers as well.
On May 11, 2010, West Midnapore SP Manoj Verma had disclosed
that "Maoists have often been pushing teenagers
into the frontlines of action. The boys are offered
a monthly amount of INR 2, 500." In the June 16
incident, Police records indicate that six of the dead
were about 15 or 16 years old. Bela, the eldest female
cadre killed, was a 20-year-old.
incident also demonstrated the robust networks that
exist across the West Bengal – Jharkhand State borders.
One of the dead, Arjun, has been identified as a member
of a squad led by Bikash in Jharkhand, and forested
areas along the Jharkhand-West Bengal as well as the
Orissa-West Bengal border have been dominated by the
Maoists for years now.
within West Bengal, according to statistics compiled
by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, between January
1, 2010, and May 30, 2010, the Maoists had killed 291
persons, including 230 civilians and 61 SF personnel.
The ICM database put this toll at 249, including
217 civilians and 32 SF personnel. Significantly, most
of these fatalities occurred within the West Midnapore
District, within which Lalgarh falls; and all but one
of these occurred in the Jangalmahal area.
also continue to draw significant support from ‘civil
society’ groups, despite the Union Government’s threat
that anyone found supporting the Maoists would be dealt
with ‘sternly’. A day before the June 16 encounter,
Police arrested three persons from Kolkata — a scientist,
a college teacher and a writer — and 10 PCPA cadres
from the area around the encounter site.
in the election-bound State, the rivalry between the
ruling CPI-M and the opposition Trinamool Congress led
by Union Minister of Railways Mamata Banerjee, has undermined
any possible political agreement on dealing with the
Maoists. Mamta Banrjee, had, in fact, blamed the CPI-M
for the Gyaneshwari Express derailment, and had demanded
a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe. On June
17, however, the CBI named three cadres of the PCPA
- Bapi Mahato, Umakanta Mahato and Asit Mahato – as
the key accused in the case and declared a cash reward
of INR 100,000 for information on their whereabouts.
is, of course, much talk of significant capacity augmentation
in CI Forces in West Bengal. The State’s DGP has spoken
about raising a 1,000-strong CI Force patterned on the
Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh, and a Special Combat
Force of 3,500 personnel. The State Government has also
urged the Centre to augment deployment of CPMFs in the
affected area. All this, however, remains very much
in the future. For the moment, the Maoists retain ample
capacities to disrupt governance and to harass and selectively
target the SFs. And, for each CI ‘success’, the Maoists
are still chalking up several of their own.
Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
data compiled from English language media sources.
kill nearly 600 people in past five months: More
than 380 civilians have been killed by Communist Party
of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres in the first five
months of this year . According to statistics compiled
by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and circulated among
affected States, Maoists killed approximately 600 people,
including paramilitary and State Police personnel, between
January 1 and May 30. The count was the highest in West
Bengal at 291. Of these, 230 were civilians and the remaining
state and central paramilitary personnel. The second highest
casualties were in Chhattisgarh, where 202 people were
killed by the Maoists. The civilian toll in the State,
however, was comparatively low at 91. Jharkhand and Orissa
lost 50 people each to the Maoist menace. Of these, 34
and 30 were civilians, respectively.
India, June 15, 2010.
nexus behind attacks on Indians in Afghanistan confirmed:
Several Afghanistan and international intelligence
officials and diplomats stationed in Kabul (Afghanistan)
have confirmed that the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), with the
help of Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI), has expanded its anti-India operations
into Afghanistan and set up training camps. The LeT is
believed to have planned or executed three major attacks
against Indian Government employees and private workers
in Afghanistan in recent months, officials said.
June 16, 2010.
has interest in some Kerala organisations, says Union
Minister of State for Home Mulapally Ramachandran: Pakistan's
external intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI), has an interest in certain sectors in Kerala and
also in some organisations based in the State, Union Minister
of State for Home Mulapally Ramachandran said on June
20. Ramachandran disclosed this when asked if the Union
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was aware of some Kerala
based organization in the Middle East having links with
Times, June 20, 2010.
Indian youths being trained as terrorists, reveals arrested
HM militant: A batch of
youngsters from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala are
presently undergoing militant training in Kacharban in
Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), a Hizb-ul-Mujahideen
(HM) militant has told his interrogators in Jammu and
Buzz, June 17, 2010.
militants still active in Jammu and Kashmir, says DGP
Kuldeep Khoda: About
500 militants, about 40 percent of them foreign militants,
are still active in Jammu and Kashmir, said Director General
of Police (DGP) Kuldeep Khoda. "There are about 500 militants
presently active in Jammu and Kashmir and their number
has come down from 700-800 last year and around 1,000
in 2008," Khoda said. The DGP said 40 percent of these
militants were foreigners, mostly from Pakistan and Pakistan-administered
Kashmir (PoK). He said the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and
the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) – terror outfits that have bases
in Pakistan – were active in the State. "The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen
is more in a supportive role to the LeT but it depends
on the plans conceived across (the border)," he said.
News Service, June 16, 2010.
militants surrender in Tripura in 17 years, says State
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar: Tripura
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar informed State Legislative
Assembly on June 15 that since May 1993 to 2010, a total
of 7,992 armed cadres surrendered from all militants groups
active in Tripura. Giving details of militant activities
across the State, Sarkar said that such activity has almost
come to end.
Tripura Info, June 16, 2010.
Bengal Government announces financial package for Maoists:
Bengal Government on June 15 announced a financial package
for Maoists who surrender, on the lines of Central Government
guidelines. Maoists who surrender will get a one-off payment
of INR 150,000, vocational training for three months,
INR 2,000 monthly, and an extra amount if they surrender
Indian Express, June 16, 2010.
heading for a split, says Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi:
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, on June 17, said that
the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) outfit was
heading for a split and sharp cracks had surfaced. He
said that half of the central committee members were in
jail and the rest were outside Assam.
Assam Tribune, June 18, 2010.
dossier on 26/11 handed over to Pakistan: In
the 11th dossier handed over to Pakistan since
the November 26, 2008, (also known as 26/11) terrorist
attacks, India, on June 18, provided details on the 34
terrorists, including fugitives who have been recruited
by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-Lashkar-e-Toiba
(LeT) combine to launch terror attacks as part of the
Karachi Project, in the form suggested by Pakistan.
of India, June 19, 2010.
problem not an armed conflict, India tells UN:
Protesting the inclusion of Naxal [Left Wing Extremism]
issue under the realm of an "armed conflict" in a United
Nations (UN) report India told the UN that the violence
being perpetrated by these groups does not make it a zone
of armed conflict as defined by international law. The
report, which is produced by the office of Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon and submitted to the UN Security Council,
highlighted the recruitment and use of children by the
Naxals in some Districts of Chhattisgarh.
PTI News, June 18, 2010.
proposes 'final struggle' to ensure peace and constitution:
Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (Unified CPN-Maoist)
chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda,
on June 17, said that the party will wage a "final struggle"
to ensure a new constitution and peace in the country.
He claimed that "forces for status quo" are conspiring
against the republican setup of the country and called
on everybody to remain vigilant in this regard.
News, June 18, 2010.
25 SF personnel and 29 civilians killed in Pakistan this
week: At least 25 Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
militants were killed and another 23 injured in clashes
with Security Forces across the Federally Administered
Tribal Areas (FATA) on June 20.
US drone targeted a Government-run tube-well in the Soheele
village of Mir Ali sub-division in the North Waziristan
Agency of FATA on June 19, killing at least 12 Taliban
(TTP) militants and injuring 16.
bodies of six Frontier Corps personnel were recovered
from Mohmand Agency in FATA on June 18 by a tribal jirga
(local assembly) after the tribal elders visited and held
talks with Afghan Taliban militants. Over 65 soldiers
went missing after their post in Shonkarai area of Mohmand
tribal region was attacked by more than 200 Afghan Taliban
militants on June 14.
backed by helicopter gunships and artillery killed 38
TTP militants in attacks on their hideouts in Bajaur Agency
on June 16. 10 soldiers were also killed in clashes.
Air Force fighter jets bombed different parts of the Orakzai
Agency killing 10 militants and injuring six others on
June 14. Dawn;
News, June 15-21, 2010.
helping Taliban militants, reports Sunday Times: Sunday
Times published a report from Kabul in Afghanistan
in which Pakistan has been accused of providing arms to
Taliban militants. The report also accused Pakistan of
specifying targets for the Taliban. The report says a
large number of prisoners were taken to Quetta, where
they were released to cross the border (into Afghanistan).
The report also claims that Pakistan gives technical advice
to the Taliban for disrupting NATO supplies and the families
of suicide bombers are being provided PNR 200,000 each.
News, June15, 2010.
Government funded JuD after 26/11, indicates report: The
Punjab Government in Pakistan gave financial assistance
to the Jama’at-ud-Da’awa (JuD), a front for the Lashkar-e-Toiba
(LeT), after the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terrorist attacks.
The Punjab Government gave PKR 82.77 million to the JuD,
whose chief Hafiz Saeed is accused of masterminding the
terrorist attacks, and its associates in the last fiscal
year (2009). This information was revealed in a supplementary
budget tabled in the Punjab Assembly which showed that
that the Provincial Government gave a grant of over PKR
79 million to the Markaz-e-Tayyaba, which is the headquarters
of the JuD in Muridke near Lahore in Punjab.
Times, June 17, 2010.
Government hesitant to admit Taliban presence, says Governor:
Governor Salmaan Taseer said on June 18 that Tehreek-e-Taliban
Pakistan (TTP) militants were present in Punjab but the
Provincial Government is hesitant to accept the fact.
The Governor said banned outfits in Rahimyar Khan and
Muzaffargarh were involved in the attacks on two places
of worship of the Ahmedi sect in Lahore, adding that the
terrorist groups were Punjabi.
Times, June 19, 2010.
setting up base in Malaysia, disclose Malaysian Home minister
Hishammuddin Hussein: Malaysian
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, on June 15, disclosed
that foreign terrorists including remnants of Sri Lanka's
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are using Malaysia
as their operational base and to recruit new cadres. Malaysian
Police had detected the presence of several senior leaders
of the LTTE who were reportedly using Malaysia for shelter
and logistics bases.
Page, June 16, 2010.
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