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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 2, No. 39, April 12, 2004

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal




J&K: Democracy at Gunpoint
Guest Writer: Praveen Swami
New Delhi Chief of Bureau, Frontline magazine, and also writes for its sister publication, The Hindu

The sad truth is that the survival of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) depends on guns: the guns of those who want it, and the guns of those who don't. As things stand, the nays are being heard a lot louder.

On April 8, terrorists targeted an election rally led by top People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti, the daughter of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The attack, the first ever executed by terrorists in the frontier town of Uri, claimed eleven lives. Fifty-three people were injured, including J&K Ministers Muzaffar Beigh and Ghulam Hassan Mir.

A welter of less high-profile attacks has taken place in recent weeks. Last month, Mukhtar Ahmad Bhat, became the first politician killed in the course of the 2004 election campaign. His killing marked the beginning of a wave of terrorist attacks on mainstream politicians and their families. Two days before Bhat's killing, terrorists executed a grenade attack on the home of the daughter of Kulgam Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and Communist Party of India leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami. A PDP activist, Ghulam Hassan, and a former state legislator, also named Ghulam Hassan, were targeted on the same day.

Soon after, terrorists ambushed former J&K Minister and National Conference leader Abdul Rahim Rather and executed Ghulam Mohiuddin Dar, a Shopian contractor affiliated with the National Conference, and opened fire on a convoy escorting PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti. Just a day after the latest attack on Mehbooba Mufti at Uri, a low-level party member, Assadullah Bhat, was shot dead in the village of Bund Numbal, near Mattan. No organisation claimed responsibility for most of these killings, but the Save Kashmir Movement, a loose label used by elements of al-Umar, the Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin (HM) and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), did claim it had executed the Uri attack.

For politicians in J&K, this is the stuff of business as usual - something factored into everyday political life. The 2002 Assembly elections, hailed across India as free and fair, cost the lives of 41 political workers in the month of September alone. In all, 99 political workers died in 2002. 1999, the year of the last Lok Sabha elections, saw the deaths of 49 political workers; 1998, the year of the previous Lok Sabha elections, saw 41 killed; 1996, the year of the last Assembly elections, saw 69 such deaths. The numbers indicate just how violent the 2002 elections were, notwithstanding widespread claims about their fairness.

On ground, many political workers have responded by cutting local-level deals with terrorists - a time-hallowed, if dishonourable, practice. Posters were put up in several parts of southern Kashmir in 2002 asking voters to oppose the National Conference (NC); the NC, before this, had often aided terrorist groups at the local level. This time around, although top PDP and NC leaders are known to have met the acting Hizb-ul-Mujaheddin chief and central division commander, Abdul Ahad Pir, most deals seem to be cut at a local level, perhaps without the involvement of the candidate himself.

After a recent assassination attempt on former J&K Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, for example, Indian signals intelligence intercepted communications between a HuM operative code-named 'Ghaznavi', and a field operative code-named 'Muslim.' 'Ghaznavi' complained bitterly that the attack was executed without his authorisation, and asserted that 'Muslim' had "created a big problem." "Why did you target him when we ourselves wanted him to contest the election?" 'Ghaznavi' asked, according to transcripts of the conversation.

It is unlikely that Rather, a well-respected politician, either asked for such support or knew of his nomination as the HM candidate. More probably, as the case of the recently killed south Kashmir HM 'commander' Arif Khan illustrates, such political deals are part of a freewheeling quid-pro-quo. Terrorists use election time favours to pressure party workers for the grant of lucrative Government contracts to their immediate family and close relatives. Several of Khan's relatives - and a number of family members of active HM cadre - have won railway construction contracts in southern Kashmir.

Political deal-making and terrorist killings are only the most dramatic manifestations of a sustained ongoing campaign of coercion directed at voters. The first posters directed at the election process were put out last month by the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in the small southern Kashmir village of Mitari, near Shopian. An untidy hand-written scrawl on crumpled paper pasted on to the walls of the village mosque, the posters do not look particularly threatening, but most people know well enough to take the note seriously.

The JeM leaflet left in Mitari, similar to those now fairly common in rural Kashmir, laid out a seven-point election-time code of conduct for local residents. Among other things, PDP workers were asked "not to participate in the elections, or else face the consequences - which they understand." Truck and bus operators were ordered to respect calls for strikes. Local residents who had applied for recruitment in the Indian Army were advised to abandon their new jobs "and thus save their lives." Finally, villagers were told to switch off their lights at night, and remove fences from around their orchards, "which create problems for the Mujaheddin."

Election Commission officials have been promising that anti-election voters in J&K will not be compelled to exercise their franchise, but no one seems to have a blueprint for ensuring that those who do wish to do so can live to see the outcome. During the 2002 Assembly elections, 250 companies of the police and paramilitaries had been pressed into service to hold the ground. Unless the Central Reserve Police Force comes good on a still-unrealised promise to meet that 250-company target, J&K authorities will have to make do with just 6,000 additional men.

Terrorist groups have made no secret they are sensing opportunity. On March 30, for example, the LeT called on voters to support the election boycott campaign led by Islamist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, saying he was "the only true leader of the Kashmiri people." The same day, an al-Umar commander code-named Khalid Javed warned people not to participate in the election process. "We have given sacrifices of one lakh people for the movement and we will take it to its logical end," he noted, adding that al-Umar would escalate attacks in coming days.

Wireless control stations operating from other terrorist groups' headquarters in Pakistan have been sending out much the same message to their cadre for weeks. On February 29, for example, a HM control station told a field unit that "the enemy is preparing for the elections, and you have to do something." Other transmissions have spoken of the need to pressure political workers, and to target campaign processions and political rallies.

It doesn't take a great deal of perspicacity to understand just how profoundly violence is shaping the course of the campaign. Take, for example, Mehbooba Mufti's comments to the media after the Uri attack. The politician blamed almost everyone for the outrage - her coalition ally, the Congress; the Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee; and the J&K Police, whose personnel were seen rescuing her on national television - except the terrorists who carried it out. At the wider plain of public discourse, the PDP and the main opposition formation, the NC, agree on nothing - except that dialogue with terrorists is vital, and that not one word need be said about continued violence.

Meanwhile, Indian Forces are doing what they can - six top JeM commanders have died over the last few days, including their overall chief for military operations, Qari Mohammad Asif, the latest in a series of high-value hits against major terrorist groups - but this military campaign isn't a substitute for a clear political voice against terror. Unless politicians find the courage to stand up for the process which vests them with power, terror will be the real winner of the coming Lok Sabha elections, irrespective of who gets elected to Parliament.


Left Wing Rampage
Saji Cherian
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

Come elections and the behemoth election machinery of the Indian state sputters to life. With an army of poll officers and an elaborate security mechanism to ensure free and fair polls, the state dresses up to realize the spectacle of the 'triumph of Indian Democracy'. But even as the state machinery readies itself to meet this challenge, anti-state terrorist groups grab the opportunity to make a point of their own, coercing the electorate to stay away from the process and attacking the state machinery. This strategy is currently and vigorously being executed by Left Wing extremist groups (commonly termed 'Naxalites'), across the States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra.

At the beginning of the current year, there were reports that the People's War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) would merge under a new identity, the All India Maoist Communist Center (AIMCC), to provide a further thrust to their operational capabilities. Although confirmation of this merger is yet to come, there are clear indications of greater co-operation between the two extremist outfits, highlighted by the systematic strategy employed in the run-up to the General Elections in their respective areas of operation. While the MCC dominates in Jharkhand and Bihar, the PWG operates in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. A succession of operations by both groups, intended to disrupt the electoral process, confirms the clear convergence of goals and methods.

The first element of their common strategy, the attack on the Government machinery and security forces, has been most dramatically visible in Jharkhand and Orissa. In the night of April 7 at least 26 policemen were killed and several injured, including a senior police official, in a series of landmine blasts triggered by MCC in the Saranda forest of West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. The modus operandi used in the attack was similar to an earlier incident in the same forests on December 20, 2002, when eighteen policemen had been killed. Earlier still, on February 7, 2004, PWG Naxalites overran several Government establishments in the Koraput district of Orissa, killing a policeman and injuring a jail superintendent before escaping with 200 weapons. In the concerted and well-calibrated attack at Koraput, the Naxalites attacked the district jail, the city police station, the office of the District Superintendent of Police, the Treasury and the 3rd Battalion of the Orissa Special Armed Police Centre, taking the security personnel by surprise. The scale of the attack came as an apparent shock to the administration, since Koraput was never thought to be an area of Naxalite dominance, though Naxalite activities were not unknown.

Side by side with these large-scale attacks, the extremists have also kept a rash of low-intensity operations going, primarily on Government infrastructure, especially the Railways and the state's communication facilities.

  • On March 26, 2004, PWG cadres blew up a railway line near Nadaul station on the Patna-Gaya section of East Central Railway, disrupting normal services while trying to enforce the 'Magadh Bandh' (General Strike in the Magadh area).
  • On March 10, 2004, PWG cadres blew up a railway cabin and the track in the Jehanabad district of Bihar.
  • On March 5, 2004, a group of women Naxalites attacked the Makodi Railway Station on the Maharashtra-Andhra Pradesh border and looted some telephone instruments and walkie-talkies and burnt official documents at the station.
  • On February 27, 2004, PWG Naxalites blew up the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) telephone exchange at Hariharganj in the Palamu district of Bihar. On the same day, in Jharkhand, Naxalites attacked the Dasra station, a halt between Hazaribagh Road and Koderma, and the Daniabihar station in the Bokaro district, and resorted to arson. They damaged the communication system, cut off the power supply, drove away the railway staff and took the Assistant Station Master captive.

Another ingredient of the Naxalite strategy has been the increasing number of attacks on grassroot level workers of political parties. This has been particularly intense in Andhra Pradesh, where workers of the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have come under concerted attack. Part, at least, of the reason for this is the fact that conventional insurgent operations have been inhibited by the presence of the 40-odd battalions of the central para-military forces that have been stationed in the State for anti-extremist operations till the election process is completed. This has prompted the PWG to change tactics: 'action teams', consisting of two or three cadres, have been constituted; concealing short weapons, mostly .9 mm pistols, the teams walk up to their targets, pump bullets, and run away. The action teams are hitting targets in 'non-struggle areas,' villages and towns which police believe to be totally free from Naxalite activity. This, the extremist leadership believes, will automatically force authorities to redeploy forces, which would otherwise have been used in anti-Naxalite operations in the forest tracts where the PWG is concentrated.

The tactic has direct intent and impact on the electoral process as well. Fear has been one of the key weapons used by Naxalites against their 'class enemies' and by targeting grassroot level political activists, the PWG expects to prevent them from taking up political activities in the villages. But 'grassroot activists' are not the exclusive target. On March 18, 2004, a PWG 'action team' shot dead state Tribal Welfare Minister M. Mani Kumari's husband M. Venkatraju, a TDP functionary, near his residence in Paderu village in Vishakhapatnam district. Following the incident, TDP members of the Prattipadu Assembly constituency party coordination unit under which Paderu falls, resigned en masse both from their party posts and the TDP in deference to an 'ultimatum' from the Naxalites. The PWG has issued open threats to TDP leaders in north coastal Andhra and Telangana that it would attack them if they ventured out for electioneering. Since the beginning of this year, 15 TDP activists have been killed in different PWG attacks. The fear of Naxalite attacks has led many TDP activists to approach the local print media, requesting them to publish their names in the list of those quitting the party.

A further element in the Naxalite strategy has been the employment of pressure tactics on villagers and tribals, forcing them to abstain from the election process and in some cases even forcing them to leave their homes. In a shocking incident in the first week of April, fearing retribution from Naxalites for attending a political rally, an entire bloc of 1,200 villagers from the Garpa village in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh left their homes and moved into the nearest town. The tribals fled after the PWG circulated pamphlets threatening to chop off the hands of those who voted or participated in election campaigning. Similarly in another incident, PWG cadres reportedly forced Abujhmarias, a tribal community of Chhattisgarh, to flee their homes in the Dhur region. The absence of the Government's effective presence in these remote areas emboldens the Naxalites to vacate villages and attack Central forces deployed during polls. Reports indicate that the Naxalites' prime motive in forcing the Abhujmarias to leave their Garpa village was because the affected village lies close to the helipad which was recently constructed to bring security and election personnel into the area. The Administration has reason to believe that the Naxalites plan extensively to lay landmines and curb the movement of paramilitary forces across the State.

The Andhra Pradesh Government has procurred military helicopters to assist the state police locate and check the movements of Naxalites. The Election Commission, too, has decided to undertake hi-tech surveillance of Naxalite-infested districts of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chattisgarh as part of its area domination exercise during the Parliamentary/Assembly polls in the States. Aerial surveys and airlifting of polling personnel top the list of measures cleared by the poll panel for supplementing the Central Forces' efforts against poll violence in remote and inaccessible boroughs of Left-wing extremists.

These, however, are just mere cosmetic touches, and fail to comprehend the fundamental element in a strategy to fight Naxalism: the existence of an effective intelligence network. The Naxalite affected-areas are spread across difficult terrain and success against the well-trained extremists depends a great deal on the quality of intelligence on their movement, hideouts and sympathisers. Such intelligence comes from locals who speak only when the security forces have their confidence, which, sadly, is non-existent in many areas. The Naxalites have also displayed enormous tactical flexibility, adapting constantly to changes in deployment and tactics adopted by the Security Forces. The electoral process provides a wider spectrum of soft targets to the anti-state forces, and multiplies the challenges confronted by the security apparatus in areas that are chronically afflicted by Left Wing extremist violence.

Manipur: Bullets over Ballots
Bibhu Prasad Routray
Acting Director, ICM Database & Documentation Centre, Guwahati

Elections are not only a test of popularity for the politicians in India's Northeast, they also serve as occasions for militant groups to score brownie points over the Administration. This time around, with Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) Elections 2004 around the corner for the State's two parliamentary seats, the situation in Manipur appears to be on a dangerous slide, as the list of militant organizations clamping a ban on the electoral process grows with each passing day.

  • The Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), on March 30, announced that all functionaries and workers of the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) should resign from the party or else face a death sentence. The threat was followed up with an attack on the BJP State unit's vice-president, Dr. Naorem Tombi, on March 31. Tombi, however, managed to escape unhurt.
  • On April 4, the Revolutionary People's Front (RPF) told the Congress Party to keep away from the electioneering process and threatened to punish anybody who chose to ignore the dictum of the outfit.
  • The United National Liberation Front (UNLF) soon followed suit and, on April 5, imposed a 'total ban' on the electioneering process in the State. In a statement the group announced that all activities connected with the elections, such as holding election meetings, canvassing, campaigning, flag hoisting, etc., should be stopped with immediate effect and threatened all violators with severe punishment.
  • The People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) too has given an April 10 ultimatum to the Ministers, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) in the State to denounce 'excesses and atrocities' by security force personnel.
  • On April 6, the United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF) banned the lone Kuki candidate from the outer Manipur parliamentary constituency from contesting the election.

There is very little doubt in the public mind regarding who rules the State of Manipur. Not even the present or would-be lawmakers labour under any illusion, and their first reaction is one of instant capitulation and prayer for reprieve. When the insurgents refuse to pay heed to such pleadings, the only way out appears to be a quick retreat from the filed of politics. Several such instances have occurred in the recent past, and the most prominent among these include:

  • A number of BJP functionaries, including the party's State vice-president, Naorem Tombi, and secretary, Khetrimayum Saratkumar, resigned from the primary membership of the party after the KYKL asked BJP functionaries to quit.
  • A Naga candidate of the Naga National Party (NNP) withdrew from the electoral process pointing to 'you know why' reasons. The electioneering process in Manipur, such as political rallies and door-to-door canvassing for votes, has been suspended.

The roots of this scenario of rising chaos lie in the administrative breakdown in the State, with the growing authority of the militants filling the vacuum. While insurgency in other Northeastern States has shown signs of a slow down over the past years, in Manipur the insurgents have grown from strength to strength. In addition to a very effective extortion regime backed by an equally efficient intelligence network, militants have gradually filled in the vast space left open by the coalition Government, which till very recently remained preoccupied with keeping its alliance partners together. As a result, mobilizing people against 'Indian misrule' has been a rather easy proposition for the militants. Over the years, their diktats on corruption in the State, and social evils like drunkenness and drug abuse have elicited favourable responses from the people. No matter which party rules in the State, India continues to be the ultimate loser in Manipur.

A larger insurgent game plan is also manifesting itself in Manipur. In the prevailing confusion over the multiple ban on the political process, groups like the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM), with a dominant presence in parts of the State, are playing an important role. In the Outer Manipur parliamentary constituency, consisting mostly of the hill districts of Manipur, for instance, the Naga group, the NSCN-IM, remains a potent force. In its quest for the integration of the hill districts of Manipur in the proposed Greater Nagaland, it has becomes imperative for the NSCN-IM to make a candidate of its choice win the elections. The group appears to be intent on this goal. The NNP candidate, Valley Rose, withdrew from the race under obvious pressure. A statement issued by the NNP president (who incidentally is her husband) maintained that the decision had been taken 'after seriously considering the present social and political scenario in the State'. Valley Rose herself maintained that the presence of too many Naga candidates creates unnecessary confusion and it was consequently better that she withdrew. Prior to this, the nomination papers of another Naga, the Congress candidate Francis Ngajokjpa, who is also a sitting minister, were rejected due to 'technical reasons'. And in the end, a Kuki candidate of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has been banned by the UKLF from contesting the elections. That leaves the Naga candidate of the BJP in the fray and he is already being projected as a winner. The NSCN-IM has had an 'understanding' with the BJP since the Assembly elections in Nagaland in February 2003.

The situation in Manipur remains extremely disturbing not only because of the gradual tightening of the noose by the terrorist outfits, but more because of the comprehensive lack of opposition to such strategies. An Army official, speaking on conditions of anonymity from Imphal, indicating that coordinating conferences between the Army, police and the para-military forces had been held to restore some control over the situation. He also spoke of plans for redeployment of Forces in the State to prevent untoward incidents, but admitted that it would be extremely difficult to convince the people to come to the polling booths on election day.

Dr. Nara Singh, a serving minister in the present State government and candidate of the Communist Party of India (CPI) for the Inner Manipur constituency, speaking to this writer, admitted that, "as a result of the call for boycott, the electioneering process has been severely affected. Public rallies and door-to-door campaigning, an effective practice in smaller constituencies, have been affected as a result. Even though adequate security measures have been taken, the whole process has been disrupted."

There has been a demand for a postponement of the elections by the Manipur People's Party (MPP) till the electoral process is completed in other States. The Communist Party of India (CPI) has asked its national secretary to pressurize the Election Commission to postpone the elections. On the other hand, the State Government has submitted that the 79 companies of para-military forces allocated to the State are inadequate and a provision of at least 200 companies should be made.

In a situation where the militants have made their intentions very clear, a fair poll does not seem to be within the realm of possibility. At the same time, however, a postponement of the electoral process will only serve the cause of the militants further, by underlining their authority. Manipur, today needs to send out a strong signal against the forces of disruption, and such a signal needs to come not only from the political parties, but from the common people as well, who will have to move out of their homes on April 20 and 26 to cast their votes. Perhaps no other State in India needs a fair and free poll than Manipur today.



Will Prabhakaran be Lucky Again?
Guest Writer: Bandula Jayasekara
Correspondent, The Island, Colombo

When the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE's) eastern commander, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias 'Colonel' Karuna, challenged the authority of its supreme leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the latter took some time to respond. First, he denied that there was a rift between the two. Then, at a hurriedly summoned press conference held in Wanni, the LTTE leadership offered Karuna an amnesty. Finally, as Karuna refused to accept the amnesty and 'safe passage' offered, and went on to consolidate his position in the East, Prabhakaran issued a thinly veiled 'death warrant', promising to "Remove him from this soil." With that order, Prabhakaran strengthened his forces and moved his cadres to the Verugal River close to Trincomalee. The stand-off between the two factions began a few weeks ago, with Karuna also sending his cadres, with his elder brother, Reggie, in charge of his forces, to the Verugal River. Karuna knew that an attack was imminent and it was only a matter of time before Prabhakaran's forces would strike. However, he underestimated Prabhakaran's strength and build up in the area. Karuna was only prepared for a defensive operation, and had declared that he was not willing to shed blood and would avoid internal killings.

All the cadres Prabhakaran is using to attack Karuna are drawn from the East, a deliberate tactical move, since he does not want the confrontation to take on the character of a battle between the northern and eastern cadres. Karuna claims to speak on behalf of the eastern region. Moreover, the eastern cadres know the terrain better than their northern counterparts.

On April 9, 2003, Prabhakaran's elite cadres made sea landings from the coast of Verugal Bay and Kathiraveli to join others who had camped along the banks of the Verugal River. Some cadres used bullock carts to infiltrate the area as civilians, while others took on Karuna's forces directly. They fought with heavy mortars and used claymore mines. Karunas cadres had countered the attacks successfully at the beginning but had to retreat after a major onslaught, having underestimated the rival numbers. Karuna's spokesman, Varathan, later said that they were misled by Prabhakaran's troops. It is still not clear how many cadres Prabhakaran used to carry out the attack, with conflicting reports putting the figures between 300 and 1000. However, intelligence reveals that the LTTE leader is sending more reinforcements to the area. Even the casualty figures are not currently known, though there has been a lull in the fighting over the weekend as this report is written. Conflicting accounts indicate casualty figures between 50 and 250, on both sides. Neither side would like to give correct figures, since this is a battle of prestige for Prabhakaran and a battle of survival for Karuna.

Sources close to Karuna say that his withdrawal from the area was tactical and that he is ready for a wider offensive and a fierce onslaught now. Prabhakaran's troops still haven't confronted Karuna's crack fighters. It is, however, not going to be easy for Karuna either, since infiltration has already taken place and the groups would now have to fight in a no-mans-land, with Prabhakaran's troops having secured the advantage of the capture of Verugal, Vakarai and Mankerni.

President Kumaratunga, as the Commander-in-Chief of Sri Lanka's Forces, has given strict orders to the Armed Forces not to get involved in the LTTE's factional confrontation. The battle is taking place in LTTE controlled areas, and is not expected to spill over into areas controlled by the Government. With her United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Government now in power, Kumaratunga is also keen to get on with the peace talks with the LTTE as early as possible, to regain the confidence of the international donor community. Her Government has agreed in principle to discuss the LTTE's proposal for an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA), which her party rejected when they were in the opposition. The Sri Lankan Army is now carrying out relief operations for the displaced civilians. The International Committee of the Red Cross, UNHCR and the Sri Lanka Red Cross have also started relief operations.

The Armed Forces, however, have been put on full alert. The Ministry of Defence has also written to the Norwegian facilitators, stating that the factional hostilities in the LTTE were a violation of the ceasefire agreement signed between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE. The Government would, at this juncture, like the Norwegians to get involved, though the LTTE had, in the early stages itself, stated that the conflict was an 'internal matter' and they would sort it out by their 'own methods'. The international community and the peace lobbies, which had been severely critical of Kumaratunga's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) as being 'anti-peace', have so far been silent in the face of the bloody fight between the LTTE's factions.

Prabhakaran would obviously want to finish off Karuna as soon as possible to establish his claim as the 'sole' representative of Tamils in Sri Lanka. The longer Karuna survives, the greater the loss of credibility for Prabhakaran. Prabhakaran cannot, further, commence peace talks with the new Government until he proves his might to the world. Karuna has tarnished his image severely with the latest allegations that Prabhakaran smuggled 11 shiploads of arms during the truce.

Having established his control over Verugal and other areas, Prabhakaran has now commenced intensive psychological operations in the Eastern area, calling on Karuna's cadres to go back to their homes. The situation is, however, also complicated for Prabhakaran, who will find it difficult to attack Karuna without crossing the Government-controlled A 11 Batticaloa-Colombo road, since Karuna has moved back to his bases in Meenaham, Karadiyanru and Thoppigala. Some reports indicate that Sri Lankan security forces, particularly the Navy, had looked the other way when Prabhakaran's Sea Tigers made landings in Verugal. However, a senior official in the East denied these reports, stating that the Navy could not keep track of all movements in the area. However, if it is not possible to get to Karuna without crossing Government-controlled areas, how will Prabhakaran proceed? And what would be the new Government's stance? What will the Army say? Will Prabhakaran be lucky again? Will he, again, benefit from the foolishness of the South?



Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
April 5-11, 2004

Security Force Personnel






     Jammu &






Total (INDIA)







 Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Training camps of terrorists active in India's Northeast exist in Bangladesh, claims Chittagong City Mayor: Mayor of the southeastern port city of Chittagong Mohiuddin Chowdhury has said that training camps of terrorists active in India's Northeast exist in Bangladesh. According to Chowdhury, Indian secessionists were running at least 50 to 60 training camps in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and weapons were brought in to arm them under a sinister conspiracy to create unrest in the subcontinent. "I've information that members of some Indian rebel groups are being trained in those camps on Bangladesh territory and (this is) known very well by our government, too," Mohiuddin told a news conference at his office on April 10, 2004. He also said that the large cache of arms and ammunition seized on the night of April 1 were "shipped from the USA and Pakistan to arm Indian rebels camped in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT)." The mayor said, "The arms cache seized at the Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Limited [CUFL] jetty was smuggled in to hand them over to the secessionist groups of northeastern Indian states including Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram," adding the government was now frantically trying to cover up the facts. However, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) has denied the claims of the Chittagong mayor. The Bangladesh foreign ministry and the US Embassy in Dhaka also reportedly refuted as baseless Mohiuddin's allegations. Daily Star, April 12, 2004; April 11, 2004.

Jamaat-e-Islami denies running secret arms training camps: The Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), a member of Bangladesh's ruling coalition, has denied it is running "11 secret arms training camps" across the country. The Pakistani newspaper Daily Times quoting an AFP report said that the claims, made by leader of Bangladesh's main opposition Awami League party, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, were denied by Jamaat as being "malicious" and "untrue." Sheikh Hasina told reporters on April 6 following a tour of the south of the country that JeI had 11 camps spread across Bangladesh. "We don't know why they have these camps, but we are very concerned," Abdul Jalil, the Awami League's general secretary said on April 8. "Whether it is for gaining power or for an Islamic revolution is the big question," he told AFP. However, Social Welfare Minister and JeI Secretary General, Ali Ahsan Mujahid, denied these accusations. Daily Times, April 9, 2004.


Eleven persons killed in grenade attack on PDP rally at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir: At least eleven persons were killed and 58 others sustained injuries during a terrorist attack on an election rally of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) in the border town of Uri in Baramulla district on April 8, 2004. While Housing Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir's personal security officer was among those killed, Finance Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Mir himself were wounded during the grenade attack. Mehbooba Mufti, PDP chief and daughter of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, and the party's Baramulla candidate Nizam-ud-Din Bhat, who were also present at the venue escaped unhurt. The Save Kashmir Movement, allegedly a front organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), has claimed responsibility for the attack. Daily Excelsior, April 9, 2004.

Jaish chief Sehrai Baba shot dead in Jammu and Kashmir: Sehrai Baba, the 'chief commander of operations' of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), was among five terrorists killed during an encounter with the security forces in the Sheikhnaar forest area of Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir on April 8, 2004. Gazi Asif Zajim alias Sehrai Baba alias Qari Asif, hailing from Karachi in Pakistan, according to official sources, had earlier functioned as the outfit's 'district commander' in Kupwara for two years. He had been appointed as Jaish's Kashmir chief after Gazi Baba, a key accused in the December 13, 2001, Parliament attack case, was killed by troops during an encounter in Srinagar on August 30, 2003. Daily Excelsior, April 9, 2004.

APHC asks people not to be part of Parliamentary elections in Jammu and Kashmir: On April 7, 2004, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) faction led by Maulana Abbas Ansari asked the Kashmiri people "not to be a part of" the forthcoming Parliamentary elections in Jammu and Kashmir saying it was not a solution to the Kashmir issue. "We are against election process and we have asked the people not to be part of it as we have nothing to do with it," former Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat said after a joint meeting of the group's executive, general council and working committee in Srinagar. Daily Excelsior, April 8, 2004.


LTTE's northern faction launches offensive in the east: At least 22 people are reported to have been killed as heavy fighting erupted between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) factions of Velupillai Prabhakaran and Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias 'Colonel' Karuna in the early hours of April 9, 2004. The Wanni-based main LTTE group of Prabhakaran launched an attack against positions of Karuna near the Verugal River, 78 Kilometers from Batticaloa, firing artillery, mortar bombs and assault rifles. More than 100 cadres on both sides are believed to have been injured after they exchanged fire for several hours. This was the first major clash between the two factions after the LTTE split in March 2004. The Hindu, April 10, 2004.

Mahinda Rajapakse sworn in as Prime Minister: On April 6, 2004, the Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, appointed the former Leader of Opposition, Mahinda Rajapakse, as the island-nation's new Prime Minister. A lawyer by profession and senior vice-president of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Rajapakse took the oath of office before Ms. Kumaratunga at an official ceremony in the Presidential Secretariat. Later, speaking to the media the new Prime Minister called for a more active role for India in the island's peace process and said he was confident the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would never again renew their separatist campaign. Daily News, April 7, 2004.


The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

SAIR is a project of the Institute for Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal.


South Asia Intelligence Review [SAIR]

K. P. S. Gill

Dr. Ajai Sahni

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