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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 3, No. 26, January 10, 2005

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: A Violent Peace
Kanchan Lakshman
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management; Assistant Editor, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution

The year gone by has rekindled hopes for peace dawning on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as violence levels ebbed to their lowest in more than a decade even as dialogue was initiated between India and Pakistan. Bloodshed has been an unwavering constant over the past 16 years, and it is far from disappearing. Nevertheless, the past year, with a total of 1,810 fatalities, has undoubtedly been the least violent since 1992.

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Summertime? Reflections on the Peace Process in J&K -- Praveen Swami
The Bus to Peace Remains Stalled -- Praveen Swami

The Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, informed the Parliament on December 8, 2004, that the daily average incidents of violence, which were 11 in 2002 and nine in 2003, dropped to six in 2004. Again, on December 14, Patil stated that incidents of violence had gone down by 24 per cent and killings by 12 per cent. The fall, according to official sources, is the more dramatic in the Jammu region, with a 26 per cent decline in violence, while the Valley witnessed a 17 per cent drop.

Each year, between October and March, the State witnesses a relative lull in violence as the passes into Pakistan become relatively impenetrable. In the last months of 2004, however, this pattern was compounded by a noteworthy and continuing decline in the numbers of terrorists killed. While 199 terrorists were killed between October-December 2004, the figure for the corresponding period in 2003 was 369. The decrease is of particular significance since troops in J&K, in the normal course, report more frequent skirmishes when the terrorists move to settled areas from their jungle hideouts to escape the year-end freeze.

Significant emphasis in counter-insurgency operations has been placed on blocking access across the Line of Control (LoC), and not merely on the neutralization of terrorists who cross over from Pakistan. Even as the cease-fire with Pakistan continues, sources indicate that there were 43 incidents of the interception of infiltrators in 2004 in which 90 infiltrators were killed and 20 arrested. During 2003, the corresponding numbers were 97 incidents, at least 235 terrorists killed, and four arrested. The Poonch district, which has been a key axis point for cross-border terrorism, registered about 150 terrorists killed in 2004, as compared to 181 in 2003 [ICM Data], 352 in 2002 and 520 in 2001 (Data: Jammu & Kashmir Police, JKP). The decline in both the volume and proportion of killings along the LoC suggests that Pakistan is now calibrating infiltration at substantially lower levels, and this trend is confirmed by Patil's disclosures in Parliament that infiltration had come down by as much as 60 per cent. The reduced fatalities in the border blocks may also mean that there are fewer terrorists holed up in these areas.

It is not yet clear whether the reduction in violence is a consequence of altered Pakistani intentions or, in fact, the increasing difficulty of infiltration. A section of the security establishment in India believes that Pakistan has not drastically reduced the outflow from launching camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), and that much of the lower infiltration rate is the consequence of higher levels of interdiction. The construction of an effective fence, new technologies, including hand-held thermal imagers, pressure sensors and night-vision devices, and the placement of a second tier of troops for counter-infiltration, according to this viewpoint, have augmented interdiction successes. Infiltration has also become more difficult because Pakistani troops are no longer providing covering artillery and small arms fire for the movement of terrorists across the LoC. Since infiltrating groups now have to cut through the fence, tracking them is also much easier, since the point of entry is quickly identified. Lt. Gen. Hari Prasad, GOC-in-C, Northern Command, stated in a recent interview that detection has become easier since the infiltrator now has to "contend with concertina coils, spikes and a second layer of concertina in addition to various sensors and alarm systems." He added further that "placing a second tier of troops for a counter-infiltration posture has been effective… an infiltrator has to confront the first tier of troops on the LoC, and thereafter a second tier of ambushes and patrols."

The difficulty of infiltration has been compounded by this shift in tactics. While State-wide data is unavailable, trends do suggest that the counter-terrorism initiative has moved away from an emphasis on attrition by inflicting a higher ratio of fatalities on terrorists as against security forces (SFs), without effectively blocking infiltration. Traditionally, moreover, troops deployed along the LoC were not only engaged in counter-infiltration tasks, but also had to deal with frequent enemy fire and incursions. With troop attention focused to a far greater extent on counter-infiltration tasks, a dramatic decline in successful infiltration has been possible, though, zero infiltration, as Gen. Prasad clarified, would not be possible even after the complete fence is in place (A total of 734 km of fencing has been constructed thus far along the 742-km LoC). With a relatively effective counter-infiltration network in place, counter-terrorism operations are now increasingly focused on targeting the hinterland, with an increasing proportion of fatalities occurring in these areas.

There have, of course, been numerous efforts to re-establish a more effective infiltration strategy. After an encounter in the Mendhar sector of Poonch District on July 23, 2004, for instance, the Army recovered five 1.5 metre-long rubber tubes which the infiltrators had used to cross the LoC. The tubes were intended to facilitate crossing over the electric fencing. In the past, insulated sleeves, plastic ladders and other materials used to cross the fencing had been recovered by the Forces. Official sources in Jammu indicate that terrorist groups located in PoK have now incorporated a special training procedure for cadres to cross the electric fencing.

Year 2004 also witnessed a shift in terrorist tactics and Islamabad's prosecution of the conflict in J&K, though both continuities and discontinuities are noticeable. While only ten fidayeen (suicide squad) incidents were reported during 2004, continuing the decline that commenced in 2003, official sources indicate that grenade attacks have seen an exponential increase. Grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) allow the terrorists to demonstrate their presence without risking a direct confrontation with the SFs. While annual figures are not available, during the first half of 2004, there was an 80 per cent increase in grenade attacks, inflicting 35 civilian fatalities and leaving another 526 wounded. Grenade attacks are considered a low-cost and low-risk option, one that does not require any expertise and for which the terrorists have even used children. The increase in grenade attacks may also plausibly be linked with the pressure mounted by the security forces through the selective and effective targeting of the terrorist leadership through 2004. Defence spokesperson, Lt. Col. R.K. Sen, disclosed in Jammu on January 3, 2005, that 93 top commanders from groups like the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Al-Badr, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) had been killed in 2004.

There have, nevertheless, been some concerted efforts to regain lost ground. Sopore in Baramulla district, for instance, was considered a 'liberated zone', in the early 1990s, but was later overrun by the security forces. More recently, Sopore is again witnessing a surge in terrorist activities. The targeted killing of surrendered terrorists has also seen an increase, with at least 32 killed in 2004, as against 12 and 19 in the preceding years.

Another aspect of the terrorists' effort at adaptation under trying circumstances is the welter of high-tech satellite phones and communication systems currently being used. Terrorist handlers across the border have reportedly doubled the communication network with the 'commanders' operating in J&K. At least 32 communication control stations are presently located in Muzaffarabad, Chakothi and adjoining areas in PoK, while one is operating from within Pakistan itself. A senior police source revealed that, "On an average, a monthly volume of 13,000 messages is intercepted by the security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir." Most of the messages emanating from across the border, according to officials, are aimed at reviving defunct jehadi groups and consolidating smaller outfits, or convey information on the routing of funds.

Referring to these complex trends, Lt. Gen. Prasad noted, "While the quantity of terrorists has gone down because of our efforts, the quality of terrorists has improved. They are better trained, they have better weapons, they have better communication systems and they seem to have enough money to continue to operate."

Nevertheless, the relative decline in violence has had a direct impact on life in the State, most dramatically reflected in the number of tourist arrivals - both domestic and foreign - particularly in the Kashmir Valley. For the first time in the last 15 years, 2004 witnessed the arrival of nearly 300,000. In addition, a record 400,000 pilgrims from across India and abroad visited the Amarnath shrine in south Kashmir during the year. The pilgrimage, incidentally, was completed peacefully, despite a history of disruptive terrorist attacks in past years.

The turnaround in violence has also impacted on the political mobilization currently underway for the local bodies' elections. Municipal elections are to be held in J&K in January-February after an interregnum of a quarter of a century. Eight phases of the elections to all civic bodies in the State, including the municipal corporations of the two capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar, will be completed by February 17. The terrorist groups, as is the wont, have once again announced a boycott, which is backed by the main overground separatist front, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), as well as by the Muzaffarabad-based umbrella terrorist organization, the United Jehad Council (UJC). The UJC has threatened to disrupt the elections, and its 'chief', Syed Salahuddin, who also heads the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), issued a faxed statement on January 5, 2005, asserting that "We have rejected it (the elections) and we will launch a movement against this." Salahuddin's threat, if carried out, would echo terrorist strategies of 2004, when at least 60 political activists, including 34 of the ruling People's Democratic Party, were killed. 24 of these died in the month of April alone, during the run-up to the parliamentary elections.

Non-secessionist political mobilisation has always been recognised by the terrorist formations as a clear threat to their surviving pockets of influence. Targeting the democratic leadership is, consequently, integral to their strategic orientation and, through 2004, there was a steady stream of selective assassinations, with targets chosen, primarily, for maximum impact. These included the killing of Maulvi Mushtaq Ahmed (June 2004), uncle of Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, Pir Hissamuddin (September 15), political advisor to the Chairman of breakaway Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and former minister and National Conference leader Safdar Ali Beg (October 21).

Through all this, and despite the ambivalence of the gains and losses in the war against terror, the terrorist infrastructure has clearly demonstrated a capacity to survive and sustain itself, notwithstanding the global de-legitimisation of terror and despite a significant weakening of Islamabad's leverage as a result of mounting international pressure. Within the emerging circumstances of the global terrorist enterprise and the internal conditions in Pakistan, while some shrinkage in operational spaces for terrorism may occur, infiltration and violence in J&K will continue to be sustained at levels calibrated to maximally exploit the residual spaces for extremist Islamist mobilization and the use of terror as an instrument of state policy by its traditional sponsor in the region.


Manipur: Rampaging Militants, Mute State
Bibhu Prasad Routray
Director, ICM Database & Documentation Centre, Guwahati

On January 6, the Meitei insurgent Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), a militant outfit fighting for an independent homeland for the majority Meitei community in Manipur, asked heads of educational institutions in the State to impose the eeyongphi phanek (the traditional Meitei dress) as the uniform for girl students of classes IX and X from the forthcoming academic session. The diktat came after a similar edict in September 2004 failed to elicit the desired response from teachers, students and their parents. The eventual fate of this decree remains to be seen, but there are numerous instances in the past of militant groups in the State imposing 'moral codes', running a 'parallel administration' and executing their own brand of rough justice.

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In a recent incident on December 13, 2004, for instance, the KYKL abducted the Manipur University Vice Chancellor and Registrar. They were released on December 17 after being 'knee capped' - shot in their legs. The KYKL justified this 'punitive action' on the grounds that both officials had acted improperly in the appointment of the Director of the Audio-Visual Research Centre of the University.

The KYKL's 'Operation New Kangleipak' (Kangleipak is Manipur's historical name) has mainly targeted the State's education system, which the group believes is riddled with corruption. Violators of the organisation's 'moral code' have been punished across an expanding area of influence. Some of the more prominent incidents relating to the education sector include:

  • November 25, 2004: KYKL militants shot six examination invigilators in their legs in capital Imphal for allegedly encouraging students to take recourse to unfair means to pass the test. Two women accused of doing the same were beaten up and warned of harsher punishment if they repeated the mistake.
  • March 12, 2004: the KYKL imposed 'prohibitions' around examination centres' as part of its 'Operation New Kangleipak' programme for 'smooth conduct' of the Class 12 examinations in Manipur.
  • On June 27, 2003: KYKL issued 'ban' notices on three branches of the State Council for Educational Research and Training, while accusing them of inactivity and corruption.
  • On March 3, 2003: KYKL expelled three students for 'examination malpractices' reportedly with the approval of the Council of Higher Secondary Education, Manipur (CHSEM) during the examinations at Pole Star College, Wabagai. The outfit also rebuked two invigilators for 'negligence' during the examinations.
  • On March 21, 2002: KYKL militants killed an examination invigilator and injured six others in separate incidents on the first day of annual examinations of the Board of Secondary Education.

Such recourse to 'moral campaigns' has not been a prerogative of the KYKL alone. All major militant groups in the State have, since years, tried to play moral guardians and have sought to impose their will on a hapless public. The State, regrettably, has consistently failed to provide basic security to its citizens, and the militants have succeeded in projecting an image of 'protectors' of the lives and traditions of the people. They have been particularly astute in their choice of issues, issuing diktats banning substance abuse among the drug-riddled youth, freeing the educational system from malpractices, and targeting corruption in government. Militants have also intervened periodically during elections in favour of, or against, particular candidates. During the last Parliamentary elections in April 2004 the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State Chief, Thounaojam Chaoba Singh, had to step down from his post amidst threats to his life from the militants. Previously, in February 2004, the BJP chief had to issue two 'mercy petitions' asking the outfit to spare his life. In another incident, former Director General of Police of Manipur, Y. Jugeshwor Singh, was shot dead by KYKL militants on April 24, 2004, in front of his residence in Imphal. The KYKL claimed that Singh had disobeyed its diktats and was campaigning for the BJP candidate.

The capitulation of the State administration to the militants is abject. On August 30, 2003, for instance, I.S. Laishram, the Revenue Commissioner of the State Government 'surrendered' to the KYKL after he was singled out by the group for corruption during his tenure as the Education Commissioner. In fact, in August that year, a Government notification had specifically asked all officials in the State not to abide by the directives of the militants. Laishram also reportedly refused to accept the security provided by the police, believing that the militants would get to him despite such protection. He was confined to a KYKL camp for a week and was subsequently released on September 7 after he promised to seek voluntary retirement. The State Government, however, chose to dismiss him from service for having succumbed to the militants' pressure.

Earlier, in December 2002, the KYKL had threatened to execute six people, including the School Education Minister, Maniruddin Sheikh, for a scam in the School Education Department. The other five included a Deputy Secretary in the Department, who was alleged to have collaborated with the Minister in the 'illegal appointment' of officers in a Central Government funded project.

Groups like the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) regularly conduct publicity seeking exercises such as setting fire to drugs, breaking alcohol bottles and destroying video cassettes of Hindi and pornographic movies in a bid to project themselves as protectors of State's culture and moral values. It was against this backdrop that the KYKL statement of January 6, 2005, made references to the integral cultural values and the restoration of the independence and dignity of Manipur society, declaring that, "for a society struggling to maintain its identity and achieve self-determination, it was essential to lay the foundations for a self-sufficient economy. The imposition of the phanek as school and college uniforms was a tiny step in this direction. It would provide better employment and income for the State's handloom weavers."

There are indications that the practice has been taken up by relatively smaller groups such as the Islamist group, the People's United Liberation Front (PULF) as well. The PULF had asked Muslim girls in the State to restrict themselves to wearing only 'traditional Muslim dresses'. A lawyer's house in Imphal had been attacked by PULF cadres, who alleged that his daughters had become 'too modern for comfort'. On December 6, 2004, PULF cadres shot at and injured a Muslim youth at Changamdabi locality in Imphal for consuming alcohol and violating Islamic law.

These various incidents are only the tip of the iceberg. Militants have engaged in hundreds of lesser acts of intimidation, imposing minor punishments on violators or issuing warnings that have secured necessary compliance before the more extreme penalties become 'necessary'. These groups were able to mount enormous pressure on the State on several occasions, including the August 2004 Th. Manorama incident, in which Manipur witnessed violent demonstrations following the alleged rape and killing of a woman PLA cadre by Assam Rifles personnel. Significantly, the extremist groups appear to have consolidated their position in the State through such actions, and there is substantial popular ambivalence with regard to their actions. The State is seen increasingly as failing and corrupt and any action that appears to impose some principles of right conduct wins a wide following among the people. Indeed, since the outbreak of militancy in the region, militant groups in most affected States have actively pushed similar 'moral' agendas and have secured popular support as a result demonstrating their moral 'upper hand' over the administration. In its heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) issued decrees banning private tuitions in Assam. More recently, in November 2004, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) (NSCN-IM) in Nagaland asked all the private schools not only to register themselves with the outfit but also brought out a separate list of holidays to be observed strictly by all the educational institutions in the State.

At a time when popular support for the militant outfits is on a decline in other States of the region, such recourse to essentially populist measures have helped the violent groups in Manipur to hold on to their constituency of supporters. Even though the KYKL's decree on the dress code has elicited little positive response from the people, there have been instances when student organisations in the State, such as the All Manipur Student's Union (AMSU), have come out openly in support of the group's initiatives for 'cleansing' the educational system. In June 2002, the Manipur People's Party (MPP), following similar demands by the KYKL, asked for the immediate resignations of Manipur Assembly Speaker, T. Haokip, State Education Minister, Manirudin Sheikh, and Hill Areas Committee chairman, Songchinkhup, from their posts for involvement in alleged corrupt practices. There has been some feeble opposition from 'civil society' organisations to incidents such as the shooting of the Manipur University Vice Chancellor, but this counts for little, particularly as far as the actions of the militant groups are concerned. The only categorical statement of condemnation of the KYKL's move came from another militant organization, the UNLF, which, in a December 21, 2004, Press Release condemned the 'punishment' as an 'act of grudge'.

Visibly, militant decrees on their 'moral code' constitute an assertion of the strength in the face of unending counter-insurgency operations by the state. Regrettably, the state has produced little by way of a coherent response, beyond a continuance of ongoing military operations, which have been severely limited in impact as the militants exploit the porous border with Myanmar to perfection. The State Government, riddled as it is by corruption and abysmal ineptitude, is itself a frequent target of extremist intimidation in this context and is, in fact, responsible for the general conditions of breakdown and collapse of confidence that have made the actions of the militants not only possible, but, in some measure, even popular.



Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
January 3-9, 2005

Security Force Personnel






     Jammu &






Total (INDIA)







 Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Four security force personnel killed during Fidayeen attack in Srinagar: Consequent to a twenty-four hour gun-battle, the security forces' (SF) killed the second Fidayeen (suicide squad) terrorist, who had taken position after a heavy shootout at the Income Tax (IT) complex in the Barbarshah locality of capital Srinagar on January 8, 2005. In all, four SF personnel, one civilian and both the terrorists were killed in the year's first Fidayeen attack in Jammu and Kashmir. A Deputy Commandant of the Border Security Force (BSF), a soldier and one police personnel were killed and four persons, including a security officer, sustained injuries when a two-member suicide squad attacked the IT office on January 7. One of the terrorists was shot dead in the resultant exchange of fire while the multi-storeyed building housing the IT office caught fire during the gun-battle. The Al-Mansooran, suspected to be a front outfit of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. Daily Excelsior, January 9, 2005.

Landmine explosion kills six police personnel in Bihar: On January 5, 2005, the Superintendent of Police in Munger district of Bihar, K.C. Surendra Babu, and five police personnel were killed during a landmine explosion triggered by suspected left-wing extremists (also called Naxalites). The police personnel were returning after conducting joint raids in the adjoining Jamui district when the explosion blew up the vehicle around 5 pm (IST) in the Bhimbandh area. The Hindu, January 6, 2005.


Conflicting reports on Maoist fatalities in Kailali clashes: The Himalayan Times, quoting Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) sources, reported that security forces' killed at least 140 Maoist insurgents during an encounter at Bankhet in the far-western district of Kailali on January 5, 2005. A statement issued from the RNA Pristana headquarters said the troops attacked a Maoist base at Bankhet and engaged in a three-hour long battle with the insurgents. Further, it said that around 41 dead bodies of the Maoists have been recovered from the incident site. Over 700 Maoists were reportedly involved in the attack and they reportedly shot at the RNA helicopter used for the raid, without causing much damage. However, there are conflicting reports on the fatalities, with some reports indicating that between 40-50 insurgents had died. Fatalities, if any, on the RNA's side have not been reported thus far. The Himalayan Times, January 6, 2005.


Alleged would-be Musharraf assassin escapes, indicates report: An alleged conspirator in a plot to kill President Pervez Musharraf has escaped, Time magazine reported on its website on January 9, 2005. The suspect escaped sometime around New Year's Day from state security in Karachi, the US magazine claimed. A nationwide search has reportedly failed to yield any leads on the whereabouts of the suspect, identified as Mushtaq Ahmad, one of the ringleaders in the December 14, 2003-plot on Gen. Musharraf's life. Time, January 9, 2005.

14 persons killed during sectarian violence in Gilgit: At least 14 people were killed, including six members of a family who were burnt alive, and another 14 sustained injuries, during sectarian clashes on January 8, 2005, at Gilgit in the Northern Areas of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) where a curfew was imposed and troops deployed to restore law and order. The clashes occurred after unidentified people shot at the vehicle of Agha Ziauddin, a Shia community leader and priest of the main Gilgit mosque. Two of his bodyguards and one of the assailants were killed instantly. Sources said Ziauddin was also shot and was in serious condition. The Shias later reportedly set ablaze several Government and private buildings and torched the home of Forest Officer, Taighun Nabi, burning him and five people present in his house to death. In another attack, local Health Department chief, Dr. Sher Wali, was shot and wounded by a mob. A male passer-by was also hit and later died. Daily Times, January 10 & 9, 2005.


State radio retracts report on LTTE chief Prabhakaran being among dead or missing after Tsunami disaster: The Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) has retracted its report that the chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Prabhakaran, and his intelligence chief, Pottu Amman, were among the dead or missing in the Tsunami disaster, an SLBC official said on January 9, 2005. SLBC offered no reason for its retraction. Radio reports on January 8 quoted Vice-Admiral, Daya Sandagiri, as saying that Prabhakaran and Amman were among those killed or missing. However, the LTTE denied the report. The Island newspaper, meanwhile, reported on January 8 that an expensive coffin "for a top LTTE leader" had been smuggled into a northern LTTE area inside a container carrying relief material for Tsunami survivors. The LTTE, in a statement posted on its Peace Secretariat website, criticised the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation for carrying the reports, saying that now was "not the time for gossip mongering and malicious propaganda." Times of India, January 10, 2005; The Hindu, January 9, 2005.


Fatalities in Jammu and Kashmir, 1988-2004

Security Force Personnel


Source: SATP (Computed from English language media).

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.

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