SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
The Kings latest gambit a reluctant offer to allow the agitating Seven Party Alliance (SPA) to nominate their Prime Minister and join a national government has predictably and rightly provoked contempt and fury in the Nepali street. The King offered nothing that could have been acceptable to the SPA and, more importantly, to the people who have now clearly gone beyond party campaigns and affiliations to directly challenge and reject the monarchy in what is increasingly taking the shape of a peoples revolt. Indeed, it should have been clear that, since May 22, 2002, when he dissolved Parliament, and acutely since the February 1, 2005, Kings coup, in which he seized direct power, the King has been part of the problem, and has systematically destroyed the very possibility of being part of any permanent solution in Nepal.
It is a measure of its absolute distance from the situation on the ground in Nepal, that the international community particularly India, the US, UK and the EU chose to welcome the Kings worthless offer as a step in the right direction, and to exhort the agitating political parties to end their movement and join the Government. The delusional quality of the international response is, however, entirely consistent with the record of the recent past. Indeed, as Nepal spirals into what appear to be the penultimate disorders preceding the end of the monarchy, there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity, with India in particular, but other concerned powers as well, striking dramatic postures, exhorting the King to greater sagacity and restraint, and demanding a return to democratic norms. In this, it would seem, these Governments have been given more to theatre and appearances, than to any concrete perspective or prospect for corrective action, and are attempting to salvage with mere words and pretence, a situation that has long been lost to the lack or infirmity of actions.
India and the international community could have enormously empowered democratic forces in Nepal 14 months ago or even earlier, when the King dismissed Parliament, hiring and firing a succession of Governments after 2002 by exerting irresistible pressure on Kathmandu to immediately restore the integrity of constitutional democracy. A clear model for such pressure existed in the Indian blockade of 1989, which forced King Birendra to introduce multi-party democracy in the country. But they chose, instead, to restrict themselves to the symbolism of interrupted military supplies and partial withdrawals of economic aid, even as political parties were progressively marginalised and eventually driven into an alliance with the Maoists.
Significantly, moreover, the agreement between the SPA and the Maoists was secretly brokered by Indian agencies and to this extent, India has directly contributed to the escalating crisis in Nepal. Unfortunately, this was done in the absence of a clear game-plan, and under what may prove to be misplaced confidence in the notion that the Maoists are, in fact, engaged in a good-faith process of negotiations with the powerless political parties, and would be willing to join in a democratic process which their ideology unequivocally rejects as a bourgeois-comprador corruption of the peoples democracy that they seek to impose through the barrel of the gun. The Indian state has, in the past and within the Indian context, entirely misjudged the Maoists commitment to their own radical ideology, and grossly overestimated their willingness to arrive at compromises. There is no reason to believe that the much stronger Maoist movement in Nepal would be willing to embrace any remarkable compromises, particularly at a time when events in that country are so clearly following a trajectory that they have scripted.
Indeed, Indias recent posturing is particularly embarrassing, as it pretended to take up a leadership role, sending special envoys to intercede with the King and the parties, and attempted to share, if not take, credit for the Kings inevitable, and evidently worthless, concessions. The fact, however, is that the Kings limited concessions did not come as a result of anything India chose to say at this juncture, but are, rather, a response to the unmistakable message of the Nepali street.
What is insufficiently understood in all this is the degree to which the initiative has been relentlessly held by the Maoists since the Dang attack in November 2001, when they decided they were strong enough to take on the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA). All other parties to the conflict, domestic and foreign, have, since then, merely been reacting to the realities of the ground created by the Maoists. Over the past fourteen months since the Kings coup, moreover, the RNA has essentially hunkered down in defensive positions, basically protecting urban concentrations, and particularly the Kathmandu Valley, with little effort to challenge the Maoists in their areas of domination in the rural hinterland. A review of incidents of violence over this period demonstrates that an overwhelming majority of fatalities have occurred during Maoist attacks on Army and Police posts, camps, establishments and transports, or on Government facilities in well protected urban settlements.
The truth is, the King is fighting an un-winnable war, and was apparently gambling on the inevitable exhaustion that he hoped would result from a long drawn out confrontation, with Royalist forces holding on to the urban areas, abandoning the countryside to the Maoists. The error of such an assessment is twofold: for one thing, exhaustion works both ways, and does not necessarily benefit a passive state; for another, there can be no strategy of permanent defence: if the initiative is constantly held by the more aggressive anti-state force, a necessary process of nibbling expansion eats away at the vitals and capacities of passive defence.
Nevertheless, the Maoists also lack the armed strength to sweep down the hills and take Kathmandu in positional warfare, engaging the well trained and better armed RNA in a conventional confrontation. The end, consequently, if it was to be brought about within the foreseeable future, had to come, not through some dramatic military confrontation at the gates of Kathmandu, but through a combination of demonstrations, disruptive activities, blockades and targeted violence. It was within this scheme that the exhausted political parties found a role, as Baburam Bhattarai, the Maoists ideologue expressed it, because the historical necessity and the new objective reality of the country is that the new two pillars of parliamentary and revolutionary democratic forces join hands to uproot the outdated and rotten third pillar of monarchy. This is, in essence, a marriage of convenience, and will last as long as the common enemy, the rotten third pillar, survives. But revolutionary democracy is just as irreconcilably opposed to bourgeois-comprador parliamentary democracy, and this alliance will crumble swiftly in the wake of the collapse of the monarchy.
That collapse is now inevitable, though not necessarily imminent, as protests by the SPA bring out tens of thousands into the streets, defying curfew orders; and as the Maoists launch a coordinated campaign to defy the curfew, capture highways, and break down royal statues across the country. Within the Kathmandu Valley, the Maoists have declared a unilateral ceasefire, but their war of attrition against the states forces continues in other parts of the country.
It has long been an urgent imperative that the issue of the imminence and character of the successor state in Nepal be addressed directly by both the international community and the people of Nepal. Politically correct slogans of a Republic created out of a negotiated settlement between the Maoists and the political parties militate against reality and the lessons of history. The contours of Nepals end state cannot, of course, be currently predicted with any measure of precision, but it is clear that the equation of power is overwhelmingly in favour of the Maoists, who may seize power either directly in the ensuing disorders, or through a temporary alliance with the parliamentary parties, exploiting democratic processes to neutralize or secure control over the one force that remains an obstacle to their absolute sway the RNA.
The situation in Nepal is not yet irreversible, and concentrated international action to restore the integrity and power of parliamentary forces at Kathmandu, combined with a long-term strategy of recovery of the regions lost to the Maoists, remains a theoretical possibility. The agitating political parties will enjoy a flush of popular support and confidence in the immediate aftermath of a possible success, and this will create some space for consolidation in Kathmandu, and a transient shift in the equation of power, vis a vis the Maoists. The role of the RNA in such a scheme, and its transformation into a National rather than a Royalist Force, is integral to the realization of such a possibility. Regrettably, whenever a proposal on these lines is articulated, the immediate response has been that this is difficult. This has been the core of the problem in addressing the conflict in Nepal, certainly since November 2001: realistic solutions are mechanically rejected as difficult; and those who ally themselves to the ideologies of freedom the world over, it would appear, are no longer willing to do difficult. The enemies of freedom the Maoists, the mujahideen, the warriors of assorted exclusionary ethnic fundamentalisms however, are willing, even eager, to confront difficulties, and will, consequently, tend to prevail in the very long run within which their protracted wars are conceived and which democracies fail to acknowledge in their policy projections and paradigms.
As the Maoist script continues to be played out in Nepal, Kathmandu will probably be the first to fall. But others will follow.
Escalating violence in Sri Lanka means that the situation of no war no peace which has prevailed for the better part of time since the February 2002 truce, is gradually changing and regrettably for the worse.
The impasse in the now-stalled cease-fire talks continues despite efforts by the facilitator, Norway, to break the standoff between the Government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). After the first round of cease-fire talks held on February 22-23, 2006, in Geneva the two sides had agreed to meet again on April 19 and 21, 2006. However, following a standoff since early April on the issue of safe movement of LTTE commanders, both sides decided to postpone the talks to April 24 and 25. The outfits political wing leader, S. P. Tamilselvan, is thereafter reported to have informed Norwegian special envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer on April 20 that the LTTE would be unable to participate in the Geneva talks until hurdles were cleared by the Government and a conducive atmosphere created.
In the meanwhile, violence has escalated steadily. In the first twenty days of April 2006 alone, at least 81 persons, including 38 civilians and 33 security force (SF) personnel, have been killed, the most violent April Sri Lanka has seen in the past four years. In 2006, a total of 227 persons, including 78 civilians and an equal number of troops, had already been killed by April 20. A fair indication of the escalation is visible in the fact that 330 people, including 153 civilians and 90 soldiers, died in the whole of year 2005, while in 2004 the fatalities totaled 108.
The major incidents of LTTE violence in recent months include, among others:
April 11, 2006: Ten Sri Lankan Navy sailors and a civilian driver were killed and nine others injured in an LTTE-triggered claymore mine explosion at Thampalagamuwa on the Trincomalee-Habarana road.
The LTTE has routinely violated terms of the cease-fire agreement (CFA) on innumerable occasions and has systematically consolidated its strength during this period, raising serious questions over the continuity and character of the truce. Sri Lankas Minister of Media and Information and Cabinet Spokesman, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, disclosed on February 10, 2006, that 5,464 violations by the LTTE had been reported between February 22, 2002 and February 4, 2006. These included 562 killings, including 174 troops. There were also reports of 117 attempted murders, 620 abductions, 46 attempted abductions, 106 cases of extortion, 2,199 conscriptions, 875 cases of injury, 22 instances of torture and 128 cases of intimidation. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) has also reported 3,535 violations by the LTTE during February 1, 2002 and February 28, 2006, including 1,803 cases of child recruitment, 212 cases of child abduction and 248 cases of harassment. In comparison, the SLMM has determined that the Sri Lanka Security Forces violated the CFA on 169 occasions over the same period.
As is their wont, the outfit has worked continuously to neutralize all non-LTTE Tamil rivals. Since the CFA, it has killed at least 18 prominent Tamil leaders, including Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, arguably one of the strongest critics of the LTTE . Crucially, the LTTE has also enhanced its military capability during the CFA, continuing to prepare itself in case of resumption of full hostilities.
During the CFA period, the LTTE, which already had a strong sea force, acquired air power, building an airstrip, with a paved 1250-metre-long runway, near the Iranamadu Tank in the Wanni area. The LTTE is also believed to have acquired two planes similar to the Czech-built Zlin Z-143. Corroborating this, the SLMM chief, Hagrup Haukland, said in Colombo on May 27, 2005, that the LTTE possess an airstrip in the island's north. "We have seen the air strip from the air while flying in a Sri Lankan military helicopter," he disclosed. On January 10, 2006, LTTE Eastern Command leader Bhanu claimed in Muttur that the Air Wing was ready for operations.
Breaching Clause 1.7 of the CFA, the LTTE also continued to acquire and move arms and ammunition. On March 25, 2006, six LTTE cadres and eight sailors were killed when a boat believed to be carrying explosives was blown up by the outfits cadres aboard the boat, after being approached by a Naval Fast Attack Craft to carry out an inspection in the Kalpititya region, 200 kilometres north of the capital, Colombo. SFs have also recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition in numerous seizures during this period, pointing to the LTTEs growing weapons build-up. On March 7, 2006, for instance, Sri Lanka Navy personnel on surveillance duties around Kayts Islands in Jaffna District arrested eight suspects aboard two dinghies along with eight Gelignite bars, five non-Electric detonators and two Global Positioning Systems. On April 2, 2006, troops recovered one T-56 rifle, 281 rounds of ammunition and three magazines from the Point Pedro area of Jaffna district. According to one estimate, approximately 12 ship loads of arms and military equipment were procured by the LTTE during the first two years of the CFA. According to Col (Retd.) R. Hariharan of the Indian Army, In the past LTTE had used clandestine arms procurement sources in Mozambique and South Africa as well as Thailand and Singapore. From Cambodia, Myanmar and Afghanistan it had procured rapid fire pistols, and assault rifles to rocket propelled grenades and surface to air missiles. Ammunition requirements of weapons including mortars, artillery and 12.7 mm machine guns were met from Bulgaria and the Czech Republic and North Korea while Croatia and Ukraine had been sourced for explosives and related material it had used the Myanmar island of Twante as a transshipment base for dispatch of arms to Sri Lanka.
The LTTE has also increased its manpower through continuous recruitment, including children, defying international conventions and civilized norms. The then President Chandrika Kumaratunga had said in January 2004 that the LTTE increased its military strength during the truce period, till that point, by recruiting over 11,000 cadres. "The LTTE has increased its cadre by three times from around seven thousand to over 18,000. Quite a few of them are small children and forcible recruitment was going on," she had stated. According to United States Navy reports, the LTTE, as of May 11, 2005, had an estimated strength of 8,000 to 10,000 armed combatants, with a core of 3,000 to 6,000 trained fighters. In a report on the Tsunami aftermath, the UN had reported that the LTTE were recruiting a new generation of child soldiers from orphans in relief camps. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which on February 14, 2006, called on the LTTE to cease recruitment of children for military purposes, had recorded 5,368 cases of child recruitment since January 2002. On March 10, 2006, UNICEF disclosed that the outfit still held at least 1,358 child soldiers, despite its pledges to free all underage combatants.
Despite continuous consolidation, however, the outfit has lost some ground to its breakaway faction led by Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias 'Colonel' Karuna. This is particularly the case in the Batticaloa and Ampara Districts in the Eastern Province. The LTTE has lost 68 cadres in the internecine conflict with the Karuna faction, including some of its top leaders. Those killed include LTTE's political wing leader for Batticaloa town, Senadhi; its Eastern Political wing leader, Kaushalyan, and his deputy Nedimaran. Karuna has, more importantly, made it difficult for the LTTE to function freely in the area between Chenkalladdy and Valaichennai on the Batticaloa coast.
There is evidence that the LTTE is readying itself for hostilities. The Island, quoting intelligence sources, reported on February 27, 2006, that large-scale LTTE war drills were in progress in the Kanjikudichcharu area of Ampara District, almost immediately after the talks between the Government and LTTE concluded in Geneva. Mock attacks on an Army camp, with search operations and an ambush drill were part of the exercise.
cease-fire agreement has, clearly, failed to bring
peace and tranquility. It has unambiguously endangered
the unity of the island nation. While a full-scale
military conflict remains unlikely at this moment,
the LTTE is expected to continue to escalate violence.
With a lethality that has been unparalleled in this
part of the globe, it is aware it can get away with
Pradesh: Maoist Reverses
but will they last?
Andhra Pradesh, for long the Naxalite (Maoist) heartland, has recently witnessed a relatively low dose of violence, though the Maoist presence continues across the State. In a stark contrast with the preceding year, when there were 114 incidents of Maoist violence in the first two months of 2005, year 2006 saw just 26 incidents over the same period, according to Ministry of Home Affairs data. The contrast is the more dramatic when compared to other affected States, such as Chhattisgarh which recorded 95 incidents (86 in the same period in 2005) and Jharkhand, with 56 incidents (72 in 2005). It would, of course, be presumptuous to conclude that the state has turned the tide in Andhra; but recent developments certainly reflect a marked change.
The peace process in Andhra Pradesh over the period May 2004 January 2005 had significantly weakened the position of the state Forces vis-à-vis the Maoists, who had used the interregnum for a massive drive of political and military consolidation. As such when the honeymoon ended, the state had to come up with an effective response to recover the ground earlier vacated. In contrast to the halting of all combing operations during the peace process, the Andhra Pradesh Police, with the help of intelligence inputs from across the State and country, resumed these operations, emphasizing improvements in the local intelligence network, so that they could pinpoint the movement of Maoist dalams (armed squads).
The resumption of Police operations came even as Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy unveiled a two-pronged strategy to tackle the Maoists, on September 19, 2005. Reddy declared that the strategy included the implementation of developmental programmes in Maoist-affected Districts to wean away potential recruits from Left Wing extremist groups and strict law and order enforcement to check violence. As part of the strategy to speed up development in Maoist-affected areas, a new Department of Remote and Interior Areas Development was created. 15 Districts were identified under the scheme on the basis of the Naxalite-related incidents: Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore, Anantapur, Kurnool, Mahabubnagar, Warangal, Nizamabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar and Khammam. About 500,000 families in 3,000 villages across 280 mandals (blocks) in these Districts were identified as affected and sought to be brought under the scheme, for which INR Four billion was proposed to be spent. Given the record of developmental schemes in these regions in the past, the eventual impact of these measures remains uncertain. However, the second prong strict law and order enforcement has already shown demonstrable results.
Outlining the police strategy, Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Swaranjit Sen stated, We are very careful about whom we arrest. We made a decision to arrest only hardcore Naxals and not those who might have helped Naxals by providing them food or shelter out of fear We have recruited about 3,000 tribals from Naxal-affected areas in the Andhra Pradesh Special Police Battalion. Physical and educational requirements were relaxed for them. Such measures would further dry up the recruiting ground for Naxals. Moreover, close to 894 extremists surrendered in 2005, as compared to 396 in 2004 and 1,035 in 2003.
As in the late 1990s, an apolitical decision to tackle the Naxalites has allowed the police to apply the squeeze, especially in the Telengana region. The region also witnessed the highest number of Naxalite fatalities in 2005, with 93 out of the 167 Naxalites (ICM data) killed across the ten Districts. Significant improvement was also witnessed in the heartland Districts, such as Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adilabad.
According to Superintendent of Police Devendra Singh Chauhan, Naxalite violence has come down drastically over the years in Karimnagar district. During 2005, out of 12 incidents of exchange of fire, a total of 20 Naxalites, including 10 CPI-Maoist, six Janasakthi and the remaining Singareni Karmika Samakhya (Sikasa) activists were killed. Among the top cadres who were killed in encounters were the Janashakti State committee member Riaz and the Maoist east division committee member Dharmula Mallikarjun. There was a record number of 104 surrenders during the year.
Similarly, in the Nizamabad District, Naxalite activity was brought under control in 2005, with the exception of the encounter at Manala hills on March 7, in which 10 Maoists were killed. The Maoists received a major setback in this operation as its district committee secretary Ramesh was eliminated. 17 Maoists surrendered in the District, opting to join the mainstream, as compared to just one in 2004. The police also arrested 79 Maoists and two Janashakti Naxalites in 2005.
In Adilabad District, police action over the past five years has led to the neutralisation of 50 Maoists, including three of district committee secretary rank, three of district committee member rank and nine dalam commanders. Some 242 Naxalites surrendered over this period.
Successes were also seen in Warangal District, when on March 19, 2005, CPI-Maoist North Telangana Special Zonal Committee member, Damera Vijaykumar Swamy alias Yadanna, and three of his associates were killed in an encounter. Similarly, in Mahabubnagar District, on April 2, district committee and action team member, Gajji Srisailam and his wife, Puspakka were killed at Achampet.
Following reverses in the Telengana region, the Maoist hideouts in the Nallamalla Forest region, spanning five Districts, also came under increased combing operations. This sustained operation has been achieved through inter-district cooperation between the police officials at the highest level. For instance, following reports of movement of cadres from the Telengana region to the Nallamala forests, senior police officials of the five districts of Kurnool, Mahabubnagar, Chittoor, Cuddapah and Anantapur met in February 2006, and prepared an action plan to deal with the development. Intensive combing operations in the Nallamalla Forest have achieved positive results. February 2006 reports indicated that the CPI-Maoist had to postpone its AP State Committee meeting due to the heightened security presence. The State committee meet was supposed to be held in February at Erragundlapalem in Prakasam District, but was cancelled at the last minute after police moved their forces to the meeting venue in the Nallamalla Forest. All alternative plans for the meeting also fell through due to intensified combing operations.
The Maoist threat in Andhra, however, is far from being neutralized, or even adequately contained. As in the past (in 2002, for instance), the outfit has cleverly shifted its operations towards the Rayalaseema and the Coastal Districts (especially the districts adjoining Orissa), as it comes under pressure in the heartland areas. According to police intelligence reports, in the month of February 2006, Maoist dalams from Mahabubnagar and the South Telangana Districts were moving into Guntur and Prakasam District areas, while some of the top cadres of CPI-Maoist migrated into the Andhra-Orissa Border (AOB) region which, due to the hilly terrain and presence of easy escape routes, combined with weaker policing in Orissa, provides significant advantage to the Maoists. To further strengthen and consolidate their presence in this region, the Maoists have also formed a separate Orissa State committee.
Increased Maoist activities have been witnessed in the Districts adjoining Orissa for quite some time now, interspersed with major attacks like the one at Kuneru. On December 25, 2005, Maoists shot dead four Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel, and critically wounded another two in an attack at the Kuneru Railway Station in Vizianagaram District. The extremists also took away INR 1.3 million and eight weapons being carried by the police personnel. The incident happened within hours on the heels of a Maoist attack on the Sileru Police Station in Visakhapatnam District on December 24 night, in which one policeman was injured. Srikakulam District has also witnessed significant Maoist activity, especially in the Uddahanam area, Bhamini, Vajrapukotthuru, Palasa, Mandasa and Sitampeta mandals.
Following the attack on the Ramagiri Udaigiri town in Orissa on March 24, the Andhra Pradesh Police had to intensify its efforts to prevent the movement of cadres into Andhra through the Srikakulam, Vishakhapatnam and Vizianagaram Districts.
The Maoist tactics to strengthen and expand in Orissa, with the help of the cadres operating in Andhra Pradesh, have also borne fruit, as revealed in a White Paper on the law and order situation tabled in the Orissa State Assembly in March 2006, which noted: Naxalite activities, which were reported from southern and northern districts of the State, have affected (the) law and order situation of the State. Of the 30 districts of the state, Naxalites were active in 14 districts in 2005.
The diminution in violence in Andhra does not, consequently, indicate that the Maoists are in any measure a spent force. There has, in fact, been a conscious decision on the part of the Maoists to retreat into the forests and safer areas, rather than emerge in village areas, where police presence could lead to losses. Although, this moderate or tactical line of retreat may suggest a temporary setback, there are other areas transcending State boundaries (Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh), where the consolidation continues.
The Maoists have also continued with weapons upgradation and improvements in their technological capacities, as revealed, for instance, when the Nizamabad District Police seized a mobile frequency modulation (FM) set following the arrest of a Maoist from Akkannapet Railway Station on March 6. Nizamabad Range DIG Anjani Kumar stated that the seizure was the tip of the iceberg, and the Maoists are able to listen in on police communications through improvised communication systems manufactured by in-house experts. Further, the Maoists have acquired the technology to blast claymore mines using wireless sets as remote controlling devices. They can now blast a claymore mine from a distance of five km making use of the US-made Icom IC-V8 wireless sets, considered to be the best in the world. Prakasam Superintendent of Police N. Balasubramanyam disclosed that the Police had seized 30 such wireless sets from the place of an encounter in which three persons were killed in the District on February 7, 2006,. The seizure confirmed the fears of the police that Maoists now had the capacities to use the wireless sets not only for communications but also as remote control devices to blast claymore mines. A demonstration of this capability was provided on April 8, 2006, when a State Legislator belonging to the Congress Party, Udumula Sreenivas Reddy, narrowly survived a landmine attack at Kakarla in the Prakasam District.
Maoists have also continued with extortion and to maintain their linkages with their established sources of income in Andhra Pradesh. On April 4, 2006, the Anantapur District police arrested a Maoist, Venkatrami Reddy, and seized INR 300,000 in cash. Reddy was arrested when he was en route to hand over the cash collected from a contractor of the Hendri Niva irrigation project to the Penna Area committee secretary, Kranti. The Police Officer on Special Duty, G. Vijaykumar, disclosed that the Maoist was acting as a key member of the dalam (squad) and had already extorted about INR 5 million from contractors executing works in Uravakonda, Guntakal, Vajrakarur, Pamidi and Garladinne and had handed it over to the Penna Ahobilam dalam. In a similar operation on April 3, 2006, police had recovered INR five million from two Maoists in Mahabubnagar District.
Andhra Pradesh has had cyclical periods in its history, when the State machinery has been able to gain a transient upper hand over the Naxalites, only to be circumvented by political opportunism, and the failure to implement the very reforms that are loudly proclaimed whenever Naxalite violence peaks. Focused counter-insurgency campaigns fractured by intervals of political interference and slackness have contributed to a patchy record. The state machinery has once again succeeded in making life difficult for the Maoists, but their existence is not in question. The top rung Maoist leadership in the State committee continues to survive and operate, although the police have neutralized a few district committee leaders. The state has also failed to comprehensively root out their presence in any of their areas of activity. The Maoists continue to display high levels of ingenuity and craft, lying low, as in the past, in times of stress, devising means to sustain their existence till a favourable and lame polity allows them to hit back again.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
April 17 - 23, 2006
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
JMB 'military commander' Ataur Rahman Sunny sentenced to 37- years imprisonment: The Fourth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court in Dhaka on April 20, 2006, sentenced 'military commander' of the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Ataur Rahman Sunny, to 37 years' rigorous imprisonment in a case for possessing firearms and ammunition. The Court also heard a case against him under the Explosive Substances Act but reserved its verdict. Sunny pleaded guilty in both the cases. In his statement, Sunny said that he possessed firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials for establishing Islamic rule in the country. He also possessed explosives seized from his rented house at East Bashabo in Dhaka, which he intended to use for destructive activities, he added. Daily Star, April 21, 2006.
Students Islamic Movement of India declared as unlawful association: The Union Government on April 21, 2006, declared the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) an unlawful association. This notification was issued by the Registrar, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The Tribunal, comprising Justice B.N. Chaturvedi of the Delhi High Court, was constituted by the Centre for adjudicating whether or not there was sufficient cause for declaring SIMI as an unlawful association. The Hindu, April 22, 2006.
Terrorist training camps flourishing across Line of Control, says Union Home Secretary: Union Home Secretary V. K. Duggal said on April 18, 2006, in Srinagar that terrorist training camps were flourishing across the Line of Control (LoC). He told reporters on the first day of his two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to review the security situation in the run-up to the April 24-elections in four Assembly constituencies that, "We have all the numbers on the camps and the militants waiting to infiltrate." He also said, "Cross border terrorism must end. We have fail-proof and fool-proof evidence that (militant) camps are flourishing across the border. The Centre is determined to keep the State peaceful in all conditions." Despite the Confidence Building Measures, terrorist infrastructure, including camps, were running and the terrorists were ready to infiltrate into the State from across the border, Duggal stated. He disclosed, further, that during the first quarter of 2006, the number of terrorism-related incidents and the casualty figure of security forces and civilians have come down from 2005. "Last year by this time, there were 489 incidents as compared to 374 this year. We have neutralised a sizeable number of militants," he stated. Daily Excelsior, April 19, 2006.
70 percent voting in Maoist-affected districts of West Bengal: More than 70 per cent of 6.8 million voters in 45 constituencies across the Maoist-affected districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia cast their votes in defiance of the boycott call issued by the Communist Party of India Maoist for the Legislative Assembly elections on April 17, 2006. "There was no report of any untoward incident," Chief Electoral Officer Debashis Sen said. Polling was held for 21 constituencies in West Midnapore, 11 in Purulia and 13 in Bankura. However, the boycott call had an impact on at least six booths, four in Purulia and two in West Midnapore. The Hindu, April 18, 2006.
King Gyanendra hands back power to people: King Gyanendra on April 21, 2006 announced he would hand over the political power he had assumed 14 months ago back to the people and asked the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) to name a new Prime Minister. "We, through this proclamation, affirm the executive power of the Kingdom of Nepal, which was in our safekeeping, shall, from this day, be returned to the people and be exercised in accordance with Article 35 of the 1990 Constitution," the King said in a televised address to the nation. The monarch said until the SPA-named Prime Minister takes office, the present Government would continue in office. He asked the SPA to recommend a name for the post of Prime Minister at the earliest for the constitution of a council of ministers, which will govern the country in accordance with the Constitution. He appreciated the "sincerity demonstrated" by civil employees and also expressed his "high regard for the dutifulness, valour and discipline displayed by the security personnel, upholding their glorious tradition."
However, the SPA has rejected the offer as inadequate. CPN-UML leader, K. P. Oli, labeled the announcement as "incomplete and insufficient." Nepali Congress spokesperson Krishna Sitaula said the Kings announcement had failed to address the road map of the alliance. Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandi Devi faction) General Secretary Rajendra Mahato said the announcement seemed to suggest that the parties were "power hungry". "We are not fighting for the prime ministerial position, but for a constituent assembly," he said. Nepal News, April 22, 2006.
158 people killed in Balochistan since January 1, 2006, says Interior Minister: Violence in Balochistan has claimed 158 lives since January 1, 2006, sources quoted Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao as telling the last Cabinet meeting on law and order, with a special focus on the ongoing insurgency in Balochistan, according to Daily Times. Of the dead, 53 were civilians and 33 security force (SF) personnel. He added that 72 cadres of the Balochistan Liberation Army were killed and 41 injured. He said that 147 people had also been injured since January 1. Sherpao reportedly told the cabinet that Dera Bugti, Kohlu and Khuzdar were the main troubled districts where SF personnel, Government installations and infrastructure were being targeted. "Though incidents of rocket attacks, small arms fire and mine blasts targeting Government installations have decreased considerably, there has been an upsurge in violence for the last one week because of the proscription of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and cancellation of arms licenses to sardars," the minister said. Sherpao also told the Cabinet that the insurgency in Balochistan and Talibanisation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) could hamper economic activity in the country. Daily Times, April 21, 2006.
Taliban have killed 150 pro-government tribal leaders in Waziristan: Taliban forces have thus far killed 150 pro-government tribal leaders in the North and South Waziristan Agencies and are openly challenging the writ of the Government by engaging a number of security forces personnel in the area, the Federal Cabinet was informed on April 12, 2006 sources told Daily Times. Briefing the Cabinet on the law and order situation in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao told the Cabinet that the presence of the Taliban in FATA was a threat to national security and Pakistans economic development. "Religious extremism, militancy and terrorism are continuously undermining Pakistans image in the international community" he was quoted as saying. He said that the Talibanisation of Waziristan was damaging other parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and that the local administration had been limited to their houses and offices. "The Talibans sphere of influence has expanded to Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and the Khyber Agency, where clerks of the area have started to join them. There has been a sharp increase in attacks on heavily-defended military targets in these areas as well," Sherpao was quoted as saying. Daily Times, April 18, 2006.
LTTE not to participate in Geneva peace talks on April 24: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) announced on April 20, 2006 that it will not attend the Geneva peace talks scheduled to be held on April 24-25. The outfits political wing leader S. P. Tamilselvan told the media after his meeting with Norwegian peace envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer at Kilinochchi, that the LTTE has informed the peace envoy that they cannot "attend the talks on the scheduled dates because of escalating violence in Tamil-majority areas." He also warned that claymore bombs would explode until the Government stops acts of violence. "If the government stops violence in the North and East there would be no need for claymores," said Tamilselvan. He added that they could think of fixing new dates only after meeting their regional commanders. Daily News, April 21, 2006.
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