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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 3, No. 51, July 4, 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





Terror and the Bomb: Dangerous Cocktail
Guest Writer: Amir Mir
Senior Pakistani journalist affiliated with Karachi-based Monthly, Newsline

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf's June 25-26 unscheduled trip to Saudi Arabia has raised many an eye brow in Islamabad-based diplomatic circles which believe the visit was meant to seek the assistance of the Kingdom to circumvent the ongoing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigations into reports that the Saudis might have purchased nuclear technology from Pakistan. And the Musharraf-King meeting was aimed at chalking out a joint strategy on what stance the two leaders should adopt to satisfy the IAEA and address its concerns.

  Also Read
New 'Great Game' -- Kanchan Lakshman
Sectarian Monster -- Amir Mir

Saudi Arabia has been under increasing pressure to open its nuclear facilities for inspection as the IAEA suspects that its nuclear programme has reached a level (with Pakistani cooperation) where it should attract international attention. The pressure has also come from Europe and the United States, who want Riyadh to permit unhindered access to its nuclear facilities.

Well before the IAEA probe began, the US had been investigating whether or not the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, sold nuclear technology to the Saudis and other Arab countries. Acting under extreme pressure of the IAEA, the Saudi Government signed the Small Quantities Protocol (SQP) on June 16, 2005, which makes inspections less problematic. However, the US, European Union and Australia want it to agree to full inspections. The Saudi stand is that they would agree to the demand only if other countries did so, including Israel.

International apprehensions that Saudi Arabia would seek to acquire nuclear weapons have arisen periodically over the last decade. The Kingdom's geopolitical situation gives it strong reasons to consider acquiring nuclear weapons: the current volatile security environment in the Middle East; the growing number of states (particularly Iran and Israel) with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the region; and its ambition to dominate the region. International concerns intensified in 2003 in the wake of revelations about Dr. A.Q. Khan's proliferation activities. The IAEA investigations show that Khan sold or offered nuclear weapons technology to Saudi Arabia and several Middle Eastern states, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

Last year's unearthing of the black market nuclear technology network increased international suspicions that Khan had developed ties with Riyadh, which has the capability to pay for all kinds of nuclear-related services. Even before the revelations about Dr. Khan's activities, concerns about Saudi-Pakistani nuclear cooperation persisted, largely due to strengthened cooperation between the two countries. In particular, frequent high-level visits of Saudi and Pakistani officials over the past several years raised serious questions about the possibility of clandestine Saudi-Pakistani nuclear cooperation.

In May 1999, a Saudi Arabian defense team, headed by Defense Minister Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz visited Pakistan's highly restricted uranium enrichment and missile assembly factory. The prince toured the Kahuta uranium enrichment plant and an adjacent factory where the Ghauri missile is assembled with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and was briefed by Dr. A Q Khan. A few months later, Khan traveled to Saudi Arabia [in November 1999] ostensibly to attend a symposium on "Information Sources on the Islamic World". The same month (November 1999), Dr. Saleh al-Athel, president King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology, visited Pakistan to work out details for cooperation in the fields of engineering, electronics, and computer science.

Interestingly, Saudi defector Mohammed Khilevi, who was first secretary of the Saudi mission to the United Nations until July 1994, testified before the IAEA that Riyadh has sought a bomb since 1975. In late June 1994, Khilevi abandoned his UN post to join the opposition. After his defection, Khilevi distributed more than 10,000 documents he obtained from the Saudi Arabian Embassy. These documents show that between 1985 and 1990, the Saudi government paid up to five billion dollars to Saddam Hussein to build a nuclear weapon. Khilevi further alleged that Saudis had provided financial contributions to the Pakistani nuclear program, and had signed a secret agreement that obligated Islamabad to respond against the aggressor with its nuclear arsenal if Saudi Arabia is attacked with nuclear weapons.

In 2003, General Musharraf paid a visit to Saudi Arabia, and former Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali visited the Kingdom twice. But the United States had warned Pakistan for the first time in December 2003 against providing nuclear assistance to Saudi Arabia. Concerns over possible Pak-Saudi nuclear cooperation intensified after the October 22-23, 2003, visit of Saudia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to Pakistan. The pro-US Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan, who is next in line to succeed to the throne after Abdullah, was not part of the delegation. During that visit, American intelligence circles allege, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia concluded a secret agreement on nuclear cooperation that was meant to provide the Saudis with nuclear-weapons technology in exchange for cheap oil.

However, in 2005, the US claims to have acquired fresh evidence that suggests a broader government-to-government Pak-Saudi atomic collaboration that could be continuing. According to well-placed diplomatic sources, chartered Saudi C-130 Hercules transporters made scores of trips between the Dhahran military base and several Pakistani cities, including Lahore and Karachi, between October 2003 and October 2004, and thereafter, considerable contacts were reported between Pakistani and Saudi nuclear scientists. Between October 2004 and January 2005, under cover of Haj, several Pakistani scientists allegedly visited Riyadh, and remained "missing" from their designated hotels for fifteen to twenty days.

The closeness between Islamabad and Riyadh has been phenomenal and it is not without significance that the first foreign tour of General Pervez Musharraf, who ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October 1999, was to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Sharif himself, his younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif and their families live in Saudi Arabia after a secret exile deal between Musharraf and Sharif, in which Riyadh had played a key role. During Sharif's prime ministerial tenure, the Americans believe, Saudi Arabia had been involved in funding Islamabad's missile and nuclear programme purchases from China, as a result of which Pakistan became a nuclear weapon-producing and proliferating state. There are also apprehensions that Riyadh was buying nuclear-capability from China through a proxy state, with Pakistan serving as the cut-out.

Following Khan's first admission of proliferation to Iran, Libya and North Korea in January 2004, the Saudi authorities pulled out more than eighty ambassador-rank and senior diplomats from its missions around the world, mainly in Europe and Asia. The pull out is widely thought to have been meant to plug any likely leak of the Pak-Saudi nuclear link.

Before 9/11, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan were the only countries that recognized and aided Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which had been educated in Pakistan's religious schools. Despite the fall of the Taliban regime, the Saudis continue to fund these seminaries that are a substitute for Pakistan's non-existent national education system and largely produce Wahhabi extremists and Islamist terrorists. Also, a substantial proportion of their curricula, including the sections which preach hatred, has also emerged from that country.

Pakistan, with a crushing defence burden, only spends 1.7 per cent of GDP on education (compared to 4.3 per cent in India and 5 per cent in the United States). An estimated 15,000 religious schools provide free room and board to some 700,000 Pakistani boys (ages 6 to 16) where they are taught to read and write in Urdu and Arabic and recite the Holy Koran by heart. No other disciplines are taught, but students are indoctrinated with anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-Indian propaganda, and encouraged to engage in jehad to defeat a 'global conspiracy to destroy Islam'. These schools supplied thousands of recruits for the Taliban militia in Afghanistan and are still being used to recruit militants to fight the US-led Allied Forces and the Afghan troops in that country.

While Saudi Arabia actively uses charities to promote Wahhabi extremism across the world, Pakistan has been the recipient of huge direct economic assistance from the desert kingdom. The Saudis have bailed out Islamabad over the past decade by supplying Pakistan with an estimated $ 1.2 billion of oil products annually, virtually free of cost. Just after the visit of Dr. A.Q. Khan to Saudi Arabia in November 1999, a Saudi nuclear expert, Dr. Al Arfaj, stated in Riyadh that "Saudi Arabia must make plans aimed at making a quick response to face the possibilities of nuclear warfare agents being used against the Saudi population, cities or armed forces."

Following the departure of American troops from its soil, the biggest problem for the Saudi Kingdom is how to deal with such nuclear contingencies. More recently, Saudi officials have discussed the procurement of new Pakistani intermediate-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Some concern remains that Saudi Arabia, like its neighbours, might be seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, apparently by purchase rather than indigenous development. The 2,700-kilometres range CSS-2 missiles the Kingdom obtained from China in 1987 are useless if fitted only with conventional warheads. One cannot, therefore, avoid the inference that, like the Pak-North Korean "nukes for missiles deal", Dr. Khan might have struck an "oil for nukes" deal with Saudi Arabia on behalf of Islamabad at a time when there is a growing homogeneity of strong Pan Islamic affiliations worldwide. If Dr. Khan's interaction with the scientists of Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya were similar to those during his reported visits to North Korea, norms of the nonproliferation regimes can be expected to have been more brazenly violated.

While the aspirations of a few Islamic countries to acquire nuclear weapons are wedded to the idea of the 'Islamic Bomb', the al-Qaeda's quest for components and know-how relating to weapons of mass destruction reflect on the potential rise of nuclear terror throughout the world. The role of wealthy and politically connected Saudi Arabian families in secretly funding al-Qaeda and other Islamist terror organizations has, till now, been kept deliberately in the background by Washington, largely out of sensitivity to the precarious internal situation in Saudi Arabia itself. King Fahd is near death, and his designated successor, Crown Prince Abdullah, is known to be more actively hostile to American foreign policy, and more sympathetic to militant Wahhabi Sunni currents in the Islamic world. Washington knows well that a head-on clash with the Saudi Royal House at present would serve the interests only of the radical faction inside the Royal family. A major strategic goal of the al-Qaeda's terror attacks within Saudi Arabia in recent years has been to escalate the pressure what are regarded as Western westernized corrupt elements of the Saudi Royal House, with the aim of replacing them with fanatical feudal Wahhabi elements - a kind of Talibanization of the Saudi Kingdom. The internal Saudi situation is complicated by the fact that many powerful Saudi families financially support the al-Qaeda effort as part of a strategy to purge the Kingdom of 'infidels and Western corruption'. In many cases these influential Saudis reach into the extended Royal family, including the murky figure of the former Saudi intelligence chief, Turki al-Faisal, son of the late King Faisal. The Americans had accused Turki's Faisal Islamic Bank of involvement in running accounts for Osama and his associates. Turki himself maintained ongoing ties with bin Laden even after the latter fled Saudi Arabia in the mid-1990's, after imprisonment by order of the King. Considered close to both Osama as well as A.Q. Khan, it was Prince Turki who had persuaded King Fahd to grant diplomatic recognition to the Taliban. The possibility of Turki having played a role in a nuclear deal between Osama and Khan cannot, consequently, be ruled out, especially when many members of the Pakistani military and nuclear establishments have been found involved in holding meetings with the al-Qaeda leader. The first indications of the presence of pro-jehadi scientists in Pakistan's nuclear establishment came to notice during the US-led allied forces' military operations in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, when documents recovered by the troops reportedly spoke of the visits of Pakistani nuclear scientists, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, to Kandahar when Osama was operating from there before 9/11. Bashiruddin was the first head of the Kahuta Uranium Enrichment project before Dr. A Q Khan, who replaced Bashiruddin in the 1970s.

Subsequent investigations carried out by American intelligence discovered that Osama had contacted these scientists for assistance in making a small nuclear device. On February 12, 2004, Dr. Khan appeared on Pakistan's state run Television after holding a lengthy meeting with General Musharraf and confessed to having been 'solely responsible' for operating an international black market in nuclear-weapons' materials. The next day, on television again, Musharraf, who claimed to be shocked by Khan's misdeeds, nonetheless pardoned him, citing his service to Pakistan (he called Khan 'my hero').

For two decades, the western media and their intelligence agencies have linked Dr. Khan and the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), to nuclear-technology transfers, and it was hard to credit the idea that the successive governments Dr. Khan served had been oblivious of these activities. In the post-9/11 period, analysts continue to express fears about the possibility of extremist Islamic groups like al-Qaeda gaining access to Pakistan's nuclear weapons or fissile or radioactive materials. Secret deals with Saudi Arabia can only aggravate such risks and concerns.


Assam: ULFA's Sleepers
Bibhu Prasad Routray
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

While the exchange of pleasantries continues on the elusive dialogue process between the Union Government and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), a confrontation of different sorts is currently emerging in Assam, with the security forces locked in a war with an invisible enemy. The recent disruption of several 'sleeper cells' and the arrest of a number of prominent citizens involved with the terrorist group has exposed new dimensions of the ULFA's networks and strategy.

  Also Read
ULFA Wants to Talk - Or Does it? -- Bibhu Prasad Routray
Truce before the Storm? -- Wasbir Hussain

In early June, the Guwahati city police announced the arrest of about 50 persons over the preceding two months on charges of working for the militant outfit, and claimed, as a result to have neutralised a network of ULFA's 'sleepers' and collaborators. The range and identity of those who were arrested at least partially explains the ease with which the outfit has managed to carry out regular attacks in the heart of the most fortified cities in Assam. Police sources indicated that the sleepers were used for delivering extortion notes, arranging safe houses for cadres, storing and transhipping the arms and explosives, arranging finances and laundering funds.

The most prominent among those arrested was Hemendra Dutta Choudhury, owner of the famous Belle Vue Hotel in Guwahati, who was taken into Police custody on June 9 on charges of money laundering for the ULFA. Choudhury denied the accusations, but admitted to having met some of the group's leaders some years earlier.

ULFA's penetration into the official security setup was evident in the arrest of Bipul Hatibaruah, a warden of Jorhat Central Jail, on June 24. The warden reportedly facilitated communications between the cadres of the outfit lodged in the jail with their comrades outside.

Another prominent arrest, on June 4, included an engineer of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), Tapan Deka, his daughter and son, who were picked up from the East Gutanagar locality of the Guwahati city on charges of harbouring ULFA cadres. Recoveries included two kilograms of RDX and 300 grams of TNT. Photographs of ULFA militants such as Biju Chakraborty were recovered from Deka's family album, indicating a long-term association with the insurgents. Police discovered that Deka's college-going son, Ridip Deka, had arranged for mobile phone connections in fake names and had passed on six SIM cards to the ULFA cadres, Biju Chakraborty and Utpal Das. A woman employee of the local mobile service provider, Reliance Telecom, Sangeeta Medhi, was also arrested in this connection. These mobile connections were used by the ULFA cadres to coordinate their activities in carrying out a number of explosions in Guwahati.

Earlier, on May 22, college teacher Chinmay Kanti Sarkar was arrested from his Bilasipara residence in Dhubri district. On the same day, Kuntal Sarma alias Bhaity, a journalist associated with a vernacular newspaper was arrested from Guwahati. Four grenades, 249 Improvised Explosive Device (IED) circuits, 44 battery connectors, 20 cables, ULFA letterheads, a digital camera and a mobile phone were recovered from the duo. Both persons were accused of supplying explosives and other bomb-making materials to the ULFA, and were also involved in planning attacks and providing logistic support to the rebels.

On June 6, police arrested a woman, Suchitra Rai from Basugaon in Kokrajhar. Official sources said that explosives used in the Republic Day parade blasts at Judges Field in Guwahati city on August 15, 2004, were assembled at her residence and were carried to the city by an ULFA cadre.

On June 23, a Public Call Office (PCO) owner, Muhabbat Hussain, was picked up from his residence by the Kokrajhar Police in connection with an ULFA demand note received by a teacher of Khasiapara. Police sources disclosed that the extortion note had been sent from the Hussain's PCO.

These arrests illustrate ULFA's success in penetrating newer segments of the population, while retaining its loyalists in front outfits like the Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS). The nature and persistence of MASS support to ULFA's activities was evident in the June 1, 2005, arrest of Mridul Rahman, a MASS activist from the Baligaon area of Jorhat District, and the recovery of several rounds of ammunition from him. On June 16, four ULFA terrorists including a woman member of MASS, were killed in an encounter at Doloni village under Khowang Police Station in the Dibrugarh district.

Interrogations of the arrested cell members threw critical light on patterns of recruitment and cultivation. Only few reportedly professed loyalty to the ULFA's cause and objectives, while the rest appeared to have been 'bought off' with the promise or actual payment of money. Significantly, none of the arrested 'sleepers' and service providers were reported to have been coerced into acting for the outfit. The present spate of arrests and subsequent disclosures has also given some evidence of the probability of the presence of 'hundreds' of such sleepers and collaborators across the State, whose detection and neutralisation would require a Herculean endeavour.

The task is made infinitely difficult by the fact that the sleeper and support cells may well include the high and mighty in Assam. ULFA cadre Dipanjalee Gohain, who was arrested in October 2004, for instance, revealed linkages between Assam Water Resources Minister Bharat Chandra Narah and Rashid Bharali, the key player in the August 15, 2004, explosions in Dhemaji, prior to the latter's arrest on May 12, 2005. Gohain in her statement had revealed that the Minister had gifted cell phones to her and to Rashid, and maintained regular contact with them. The police, however, refused to act on the report, prompting the opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) to shoot off a letter to the President on October 27, seeking his intervention in the matter. Narah remains a minister till date.

Illustrating how deep the rot went, and how it crossed party lines, Congress spokesperson Ripun Bora had, on August 31, 2004, made a detailed presentation on the alleged nexus between the late AGP minister Nagen Sarma and the ULFA during the 1996 elections. Subsequent reports suggested that both Nagen Sarma, who went on to become the State Forest Minister, and Agriculture Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary had been instrumental in finalising deals with the ULFA before the elections. Sarma subsequently fell out with the outfit and was killed in an IED blast on February 27, 2000. ULFA claimed responsibility for the act. Indeed, there have been recurrent reports of the 'insurgent-politician nexus', which suggest that the current arrests and disruption of 'cells' will achieve little in terms of denting ULFA's operational capacities. The cells are, at worst, symptoms of a far deeper malaise that afflicts the State.

Indeed, ULFA has given fairly dramatic evidence of its capacity to orchestrate attacks 'as and when it pleases' since the beginning of the current year, including the June 20 explosion inside the Assam Secretariat Complex - the highest seat of the State Administration. There are signs of worse to come. Interrogation of the arrested militant Rashid Bharali revealed his involvement in the import of grenades and gelatin sticks in '35 boxes', which had been stored in multiple locations across the State. The May 15 arrest of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agent Hasimuddin at Minkrie in Meghalaya with 400 gelatine sticks threw further light on the ease with which the players in the game have, over the years, managed to rationalise their expenditure by procuring explosives from the nearby coal and limestone mines in neighbouring Meghalaya.

With weapons and explosives now located in widely dispersed caches, including several in cities, the task of the terrorists has become much earlier. Security arrangements in cities like Guwahati depend heavily on the checking of vehicles and frisking of people coming into the city through the traditional entry points such as Jalukbari and Khanapara. There have been very few occasions on which militants have been captured with arms, explosives or ammunition from private and public vehicles at such checkpoints. With caches now planted within the city itself, cadres can simply enter the city at will, contact the outfit's sleepers and access and deploy the 'tools of terror'.

There is little evidence that the State Police are geared to deal adequately with the emerging challenge. In the last week of March 2005, the Tinsukia Police created needless panic in the township by using loudspeakers to announce that ULFA cadres had infiltrated into the district. Again, on June 20, trained Assam Police personnel in Guwahati city failed to start the computer attached to an explosives scanner, as a large police contingent waited around an abandoned suitcase suspected to be a bomb. While there is mounting evidence of an increasing sophistication in techniques and tactics on the part of the insurgents and their collaborators, the state and its forces appear to remain trapped in habits, associations and patterns of the past.


Bihar: Uproar in the South, Strike in the North
Saji Cherian
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

An attack, similar in scale and execution to the Koraput incident of February 6, 2004, in Orissa, and the Surguja incident of May 7, 2005, in Chhattisgarh, was staged by Left-Wing extremists (also known as Naxalites) of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) on June 23, 2005, in the Madhuban block of East Champaran district of Bihar. In a synchronised fashion, a large group of Naxalites attacked close to nine places in the area, including the police station, block office, post office, two banks and a petrol pump, besides the homes of Rashtriya Janata Dal Member of Parliament from the Sheohar constituency, Sitaram Singh, and two of his supporters.

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Chhattisgarh: Reality Bites -- Saji Cherian

In the resultant gun-battle following the attack, which spilled into the neighbouring Sheohar and Sitamarhi districts, twenty Naxalites, four security force personnel and two civilians were killed, including Moiuddin Mian, an 'area commander' of the erstwhile Maoist Communist Centre (MCC).

Apart from the intensity of the attack, alarm was also raised when senior State police officials confirmed that Nepalese Maoists were also involved in the attack. Bihar Director-General of Police (DGP), Ashish Ranjan Sinha, pointed to persons with 'Mongoloid features' among the attackers, adding, "we have no clear evidence yet to show that it was a joint operation, but it cannot be ruled out." Officials at the Centre, however, have tried to downplay the possibility of involvement of Nepalese Maoists arguing that all the Naxalite posters and pamphlets found at the incident site were in Hindi and the literature seized was either in Maithili or Bhojpuri (local dialects).

Although the active involvement of Nepalese Maoists in the attack remains disputed, their growing co-operation with the Naxalites cannot be denied. In 2004, both groups had formed a 'Bihar-Nepal Border Co-ordination Committee' and this co-ordination has often involved sheltering each other's cadres and sharing expertise. On June 22, 2005, for instance, the Indian police arrested four Nepalese Maoists, identified as 'Battalion Commander' of the '16th Brigade' Nirmal Bishwokarma, 'Dhanusha district Committee' member Raju Mandal, Prakash Sahani and 'section commander' Anil Rai, who were undergoing treatment at a private clinic in Darbhanga in Bihar. This was only the latest in a string of arrests of Nepalese Maoists in Bihar, dating back to February 2003.

The debate over the involvement of the Nepalese Maoists in the Madhuban attack is, however, at best a distraction from the real problem at hand, and that is the increasing clout of the Naxalites in the State of Bihar. In this, the rebels have realized the classic Maoist dictum, "Sheng Tung, Chi Hsi": "Uproar [in the] East; Strike [in the] West", articulating the principles of distraction on the one hand and concentration on the other. Even as the state's efforts were concentrated in the 'worst affected' southern districts, the Maoists had consolidated their presence in the northern border areas, and the attack at Madhuban was essentially an open declaration of this consolidation.

Apart from the traditional stronghold districts of Patna, Gaya, Aurangabad, Arwal, Jehanabad, Rohtas, Jamui, Bhojpur and Kaimur in South and Central Bihar - in the vicinity of the affected districts of Jharkhand - the CPI-Maoist is increasingly establishing its presence in the northern districts of West Champaran, East Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Muzzaffarpur and Darbangha districts, neighbouring Maoist-affected areas in Nepal.

This extension has been far from invisible. After the Madhuban attack, Vinay Kumar, District Magistrate of East Champaran admitted that, "for the last two to three years, Naxalites have been trying to establish a base in these parts." It was in 2001 that the Maoists marked their presence in Sheohar district for the first time, when they attacked the Dekuli Police Station and decamped with six rifles and a large amount of ammunition. In January 2002, they attacked the police outpost in Uktha in Sitamarhi district; in December 2003, in a joint operation by Sheohar and Sitamarhi police personnel, three Naxalites, including the 'area commander' Satyam, were killed in the Barahi village in Sitamarhi. The Naxalite influence across the northern areas can be gauged by the fact that, following the recent incidents in East Champaran, the Sitamarhi District Superintendent of Police sounded a red alert in all 22 police stations in his jurisdiction, warning them of a possible Naxalite attack on any of the stations.

The Union Government has also recently confirmed the growing Naxalite presence in the East Champaran district by placing the district under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme. To enable the States to undertake more effective anti-Naxalite operations, the Ministry of Home Affairs "reimburses 75-100 per cent of the expenditure incurred on security related items." The scheme, which commenced on April 1, 1996, currently covers 76 districts in nine States. Apart from the East Champaran district, the other districts under the scheme in Bihar are Aurangabad, Gaya, Jehanabad, Rohtas, Nalanda, Patna, Bhojpur, Kaimur, West Champaran, Sitamarhi, Arwal, Nawada and Jamui.

The spread of left wing extremism in Bihar has been enormously facilitated by the sheer and endemic lack of human development, a crumbling State administrative machinery, and decaying infrastructure. The Naxalites have taken advantage of this widespread 'retreat of governance', not only in establishing a network of extortion, imposing 'levies' and 'revolutionary taxes', but also initiating 'developmental works' in some areas. In the Imamganj, Dumuriya, Koti and Barachhatti areas of Gaya district, for instance, the Maoists are developing small-scale irrigation projects; in Khajura village of the Dumuriya Block, they have been involved in the construction of a small dam. The erstwhile MCC had earlier declared the formation of a 'guerilla zone' in the Imamganj area; Dumuria lies adjacent to it.

Within this context, the involvement of Nepalese Maoists in an incident or incidents in Bihar is, at worst, a peripheral concern. The Naxalite problem is essentially an internal security issue and nothing can dilute the State Government's responsibility to maintain law and order in its districts. Regrettably, Naxalite violence in Bihar overlays a much wider breakdown of the criminal justice system, and the State has persistently neglected issues of policing and the need to develop adequate capacities of response to various challenges of internal security. The Crime in India - 2003 report, published by the National Crime Records Bureau, indicates that Bihar has a ratio of 1:1652 in terms of actual police strength to the estimated mid-year population of 2003, the worst in the country. By comparison, Andhra Pradesh has a ratio of 1:1052; Chhattisgarh, 1:1061, Jharkhand (which was formerly part of Bihar), 1:1333; and Orissa, 1:1072. Sections of the Bihar Police continue to use the antiquated World War I vintage bolt-action .303 rifles and other obsolete equipment, as compared to the Japanese-made Pump Action Single Barrel Gun and sophisticated Chinese-made communication equipment that was seized from the Naxalites after the encounter in East Champaran. On June 11, 2005, DGP Sinha announced that the Union Government had approved an INR 1.02 billion plan to modernize the Bihar police. Unfortunately, considering the lackadaisical State bureaucracy, the effects of this largesse will, at best, be uncertain.

In the meanwhile, the Maoist consolidation continues, not only in terms of territory, but in dealing effectively with past turf wars and internecine struggles. The Ministry of Home Affairs Annual Report 2004-2005 had noted that, in 2004, "In Bihar the Naxal violence as well as deaths increased significantly by over 29 per cent and about 34 per cent respectively mainly on account of increasing belligerence of the CPML-PW that clashed extensively, alongside the MCCI, with the CPML (Liberation)" [Emphasis added]. It is significant that, at the beginning of year 2005, the CPI-Maoist released a statement declaring a unilateral ceasefire with the CPI-ML (Liberation) and this declaration was again reiterated on May 25. According to the statement, the ceasefire decision had been taken "to stop the loss being suffered by the allies and concentrate on the larger objective of the Naxal movement and to fight the class enemies." It is this 'larger objective' that had led the People's War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) to merge in September 2004 - and the consequences of this merger are currently being felt across the entire Naxalite belt along India's eastern board.

Regrettably, while the rebels become more focused and coordinated in their activities across wide geographical areas of the country - and synchronize their activities with sympathetic groups abroad, including the Nepalese Maoists - there is little evidence of comparable coordination or sense of shared purpose across the afflicted States, each of which continues to pursue arbitrary, often contradictory, and almost uniformly ineffective, patterns of response.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
June 27-July 3, 2005

Security Force Personnel






     Jammu &








Total (INDIA)





 Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Top left-wing extremist leader killed in Andhra Pradesh: A top leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (Janashakthi), Venkateshwarlu aka Riaz Khan, and three other Naxalites (Left-Wing extremists) were shot dead by the police in an encounter on the outskirts of Mohinikunta village in the Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh (AP) on July 1, 2005. Riaz Khan, a 'central committee member', had participated in the peace talks with the AP Government along with top Maoist leaders in October 2004. An engineering student hailing from Kavali in the Nellore district, he reportedly discontinued formal education and joined the Naxalite movement in the early Nineteen Nineties. He was the second-in-command of the Janashakthi group of Naxalites, which is led by 'secretary' Amar. Indian Express; The Hindu, July 2, 2005.

Infrastructure for terrorism in Pakistan remains, says Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee: The Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Washington on June 28, 2005, that although there have been several positive developments in the relations with Pakistan over the last 18 months, including the November 2003 cease-fire holding and the composite dialogue entering the second round, it cannot be said for sure that the peace process is "entrenched". He disclosed that "The infrastructure for terrorism in Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled territory remains. We do not hear of operations like the ones being conducted by Pakistan in cooperation with the U.S. in the war on terrorism at its western frontiers, towards its eastern borders with India…" Speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the minister argued that India was in a "dangerous" neighbourhood. "Few other countries in the world face the full spectrum of threats to their security as India does, from low intensity conflicts to an unfriendly nuclearised neighbourhood. Our response to such an environment has been anything but militaristic," said Mukherjee. The Hindu, June 29, 2005.


Political parties to hold talks with Maoists openly: Former Prime Minister and Nepali Congress (NC) president, Girija Prasad Koirala, announced in Kathmandu on June 30, 2005, that he would "openly hold dialogue" with the Maoist insurgents to restore peace, irrespective of the consequences. "I don't fear being arrested," he told a meeting of former lawmakers. Koirala claimed the agenda of the seven-party alliance has attracted the Maoists. While urging King Gyanendra to "comprehend the voices of the modern era or face the consequences", Koirala criticised the international community for "raising a hue and cry" over an alliance between the parties and Maoists. The Himalayan Times, July 1, 2005.


LTTE sets 14-day deadline on cease-fire pact: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on June 30, 2005, set a 14-day deadline for the Sri Lankan Government to "unequivocally express its commitment" to the 2002 cease-fire agreement (CFA) or threatened to "resort to its own pre-ceasefire arrangements" that would put the CFA "at serious risk." The outfit stated its position during a meeting with the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and representatives of the Norwegian embassy who visited the LTTE-held Kilinochchi. "The Government should state its position if it is adhering to the CFA," the LTTE political wing leader, S. P. Thamilselvan told journalists. The deadline, he claimed, was given both verbally and in writing. The CFA provides for a 14-day notice by the parties for a pullout. The Hindu, July 1, 2005.


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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