Terrorism Update
Show/Hide Search
  Click to Enlarge

Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 5, No. 8, September 4, 2006

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




Maoism: Expansive Vision

Saji Cherian
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

“…..with great determination we will strive to advance and expand the Guerrilla war to establish Base Areas in the strategic areas; we will refine and develop our tactics to rebuild, consolidate and expand the revolutionary movement in the vast plains of India, to advance the People’s War to drown the enemy in the great ocean of the class struggles of the vast masses” -- Mupalla Laxmana Rao @ Ganapathy in an interview on October 14, 2004

This Maoist vision, articulated by the ‘General Secretary’ of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), remains intact and is being actively operationalised. The dream of “expanding into the vast plains of India”, follows a strategic framework located in Mao Tse Tung’s larger scheme of ‘Protracted War’. The first step in the war is devoted to organisation, consolidation and preservation of ‘regional base areas’ situated in isolated and difficult terrain. Such organisational building, in varied forms, is now increasingly visible in areas that hitherto remained at the margins of Maoist influence or that were completely devoid of such influence.

Although, the State of Andhra Pradesh registers a Maoist presence in all 23 of its Districts, focused counter-insurgency operations over the past few months have forced the Maoists to scurry into those areas where there presence was traditionally marginal. With the police making inroads in the ‘heartland’ Telangana Districts – Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal and Khammam – and the Nallamala Forest area stretching across parts of Guntur, Prakasam, Kurnool and Nalgonda Districts, the Maoists are now trying to shift their bases to the Nellore District as well as some of the North coastal Districts bordering Orissa, including Srikakulam, Vishakapatnam, Vizianagaram and East Godavari.

In Nellore, the relatively insignificant Maoist faction, the Communist Party of India–Marxist-Leninist-Janasakthi (Janasakthi, for short) has been operating from the Rapur Forest area. The District provides good road, rail and sea connectivity, besides its proximity to Tamil Nadu. Police have been alerted on reports of Maoist cadres being active in remote villages of the Sitarampuram mandal (Block), which borders the Nellore, Kadapa and Prakasam Districts, and some cadres have stayed in certain villages of the Rapur, Venkatagiri, Pattapupalem and Allur mandals.

In the neighbouring State of Orissa, the administration disclosed, in March 2006, that as many as 14 out of the 30 Districts registered a Maoist presence, although under the Union Government’s Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme, only seven Districts – Malkangiri, Rayagada, Koraput, Gajapati, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Sundargarh – have been declared Maoist affected. In March 2006, a State Government prepared ‘white paper on the law and order situation’ had mentioned that “after spreading their influence in bordering Districts such as Sundargarh, Keonjhar, Sambalpur, Deogarh and Mayurbhanj, the Naxalites were trying to establish their foothold in Dhenkanal, Jajpur and other Districts… The ultras were trying to link Bhubaneswar and Cuttack with southern part of the State through central Districts such as Kandhamal and Boudh." On March 27, 2006, the State Government admitted that Maoists had spread roots to Kandhamal, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Ganjam and Nabarangpur districts.

To establish their foothold, the Maoists have been quick to take up local issues, which pit inhabitants of a particular District against the administration. For instance, in Jagatsinghpur District, leaflets signed by Maoist cadres have been recovered from various parts, protesting the setting up of industries, arguing that these would adversely affect the livelihood of the poor. Appreciating the growing threat, the Orissa Home Department has reportedly decided to open three marine police stations in Jagatsinghpur District to check the entry of Maoists through waterways. Earlier, in the tribal protests at Kalinganagar that led to the deaths of 11 tribals on January 2, 2006, in police firing, apprehensions were raised on the role of Maoist front organisations in instigating the protestors. Tribal issues have been systematically exploited elsewhere as well, and a senior police official disclosed, “their increasing presence in Jajpur has been established by now. The radicals instigating the tribals cannot be ruled out.”

In Karnataka, the state Home Minister M.P. Prakash claimed on August 25, 2006, that Maoist activities in the State had been contained and their presence was limited to just four districts, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Raichur and Bellary. Ironically, the same night, Maoists attacked the Divisional Forest Office (Wildlife), about 13 km from Sringeri in Chikmagalur District, on the border of the Udupi District. The Police Superintendent of the Anti-Naxalite Force (ANF) Chennaiah said, "before ransacking the office, the gang pasted bills and pamphlets of Maoist literature and also warned the authorities to remove the nearby Thanikod checkpost".

The administration is apparently turning a blind eye to previous incidents in Chikmagulur and is unwilling to declare the District ‘Maoist-affected’. Some past incidents in the District include:

  • May 17, 2005: A group of about 15 Maoists killed a Congress party activist, Seshappa Gowda, who was also a member of the Koppa Taluk Panchayat (a local self-government body), at Menasinahadya in the Chikmagalur District.

  • November 6, 2005: Maoist cadres blew up a forest check post after threatening the guards at Thanikod in the Chikmagalur District

  • November 15, 2005: A woman Maoist was arrested from the forest area near Sringeri in the Chikamagalur District.

Incidents of intimidation and abduction have also been reported from other Districts, including Udupi and Tumkur, and political mobilisation by the Maoists have been widely noticed.

Former Home Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress Party) speaking in the State Legislative Assembly on July 13 stated that 5,000 families in Bangalore were involved in Maoist activities. Coming from a former Home Minister, who would have had, during his tenure, unlimited access to intelligence feeds, this claim cannot be ignored.

Karnataka has always remained in the Maoist scheme of things, although they suffered a temporary setback in February 2005, when their ‘state committee secretary’, Saket Rajan @ ‘Prem’, was killed in an encounter in Chikmagalur District. However, brushing aside the setback, the Maoists restructured their ‘State Committee’ in Karnataka and appointed Noor Zulfikar alias Sridhar in place of the deceased Prem, in addition to six other members on the new Committee.

Recovered Maoist documents, including the 2001 ‘Social Conditions and Tactics’ survey of selected villages in Karnataka, elaborate on a detailed strategy of mobilisation in the State. Prepared by the erstwhile People’s War Group (PWG) in October 2001 (which merged into the CPI-Maoist in September 2004), this is an exhaustive study of the “Perspective Area” in the Malnad region (Belgaum, Uttara Kannada, Dharwad, Shimoga, Udupi, Chickmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Mysore and Chamarajnagar Districts) to “accomplish the transformation of the Perspective Area into a Guerrilla Zone, to organize the people in class struggle, build mass organizations, set up party cells, form militia, establish Special Guerilla Squads (SGSs) and conduct guerrilla warfare in about a dozen Local Guerilla Squad (LGS) areas.”

Similarly, in Maharashtra, Gondia District is witnessing increasing Maoist mobilization and consolidation, due to operations carried out by security forces in the neighbouring Gadchiroli District. In November 2005, Maoists pasted posters in many villages of Deori tehsil of Gondia, announcing a recruitment drive. While, in the Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary, Maoists set ablaze a protection hut at Tippat in January and at Mangezara on February 24, 2006. Over the past months, they have become active in the sanctuary and have threatened forest department employees against moving in the forest. They have also instructed villagers around Nagzira not to venture out during the night. The sanctuary is convenient for Maoists to sneak into Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.

The Maoists in Maharashtra are not just spreading their network in rural environs. An assessment report prepared by the state intelligence department indicates that 57 non-government organisations (NGOs) and social action groups in Mumbai have been short-listed after being found to fund and help Maoists. The organisations arranged for medical treatment for Maoists, often in nursing homes in cities. According to State Director General of Police, P.S. Pasricha, “We are keeping close tabs on the activities of functionaries belonging to a section of the NGOs. A couple of recent arrests and subsequent interrogation of office-bearers of these groups have made us more aware of the security threat they pose.” 12 NGOs and social action groups short-listed for funding and helping Maoists have been found to be extremely cash-rich. Funds may have been transferred to guerrilla units inside jungles through “informal money remittance systems”, a senior intelligence officer disclosed.

The Maharashtra State Committee of the Maoists comprises four ‘divisions’: North Gadchiroli-Gondia Division, Chandrapur Division, Mumbai Division, and Surat Division. Police reports also add that the Maoists have been building up front organisations in Mumbai and Surat in Gujarat, identifying the potential of these places as economic strongholds. Police officials revealed that “the Maoists are actually conducting a sort of preliminary survey in Mumbai, Surat and other areas to begin their systematic infiltration in urban areas. In fact, they are making front organisations to facilitate their goals of creating a space for them in these major urban areas.” This is entirely consistent with the projections of the 2004 “Urban Perspective Document” which identified two principal “industrial concentrations” as targets of Maoist expansion: the Bhilai-Ranchi-Dhanbad-Calcutta belt in the East; and the Mumbai-Pune-Surat-Ahmedabad-Surat belt in the West.

In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, three Maoist squads or dalams, the Paraswada, Tanda and Malajkhand dalam have been active in four Districts – Balaghat, Dindori, Mandala and Sidhi. According to State Police records, violent Maoist activities have been taking place in Madhya Pradesh since 1990 and, at least 33 police personnel, 37 civilians and five government servants have been killed, while the police have shot dead 12 Maoists in 53 shootouts between 1990 and June 2006.

In Uttar Pradesh, although the casualties in Maoist violence over the past years have been low, Maoist presence in the eastern Districts bordering Bihar are a cause of concern. Twenty-six villages of the Gorakhpur Division have been identified as Naxalite-affected, twenty-five of these in Deoria District and one in Kushinagar District. After a survey, a list of 680 Maoist-affected villages across the State was handed over to the State Government. In addition to the 26 in Gorakhpur Division, there are 226 villages in Chandauli, 88 in Mirzapur, 254 in Sonbhadra, 33 in Ghazipur, 54 in Ballia and two in Mau District, which are reportedly Maoist affected.

Carved out from Uttar Pradesh, the mountain State of Uttaranchal has remained vulnerable due to its difficult and sparsely populated terrain and porous border with Nepal. The State administration, in recent times, has been concerned over the mushrooming of Left Wing organisations in the three border Districts of Pithoragarh, Udham Singh Nagar and Champawat. District Magistrates and senior police officials in these areas have been asked to visit villages once a month along with officials of other departments, to discuss problems faced by people in an effort to counter mobilization by Left Wing extremists.

In the eastern state of West Bengal, the Maoists carried out their first ‘direct action’ in the Nadia District, after consolidating their presence in the neighbouring Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore Districts. On July 15, 2005, a Maoist 'central committee' member had remarked that, apart from these three districts, “our mass base in Murshidabad, Malda, Burdwan and Nadia is ready. After five years, we will launch our strikes.” On June 20, 2006, two ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist tribal leaders, Uttam Sardar and Swapan Sardar, were killed by a group of Maoists at Chandpur in Nadia. The Maoists have also threatened at least a dozen CPI-Marxist leaders in Nadia. According to police officials, areas where Maoists are active in the District are Phasilnagar and Nasirpur villages in Karimpur, Teghari, Badbillo and Durgapur villages in Nakashipara and parts of Chapra and Kotwali Police Station areas.

Closer to the nation’s capital city, intelligence agencies have warned of the mushrooming of various Maoist front organisations in Jind, Kaithal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar, Hisar, Rohtak and Sonepat Districts of Haryana, in the recent past. While speaking to reporters in Jind, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda stated that the Maoists would not be allowed to grow their roots in the State, but police officials are of the opinion that Maoists appear to have chosen to take advantage of caste conflicts in the State as a part of their strategy of consolidation in Haryana. The backward caste communities, dalits and other oppressed communities have been chosen because the middle class in Haryana is reasonably strong and the number of landless and poor is comparatively smaller than States, such as Andhra, Bihar and Orissa. Besides raking up local caste conflicts, they have also staged plays about revolutionaries, to exploit the sentiments of the youth. The August 31, 2005, incident at Gohana where dalit houses were set on fire by upper caste jats was seen as an opportunity for these outfits to make attempts to spread their influence, according to intelligence sources.

Even as the security establishment counters the Maoists in a fragmented, disoriented and incoherent fashion, the latter remain systematic in their approach, working strictly according to clearly articulated plans. The Maoists clearly recognize that they are up against a powerful state that has the resources to counter them, and that the challenge lies in effectively utilizing guerrilla strategies and tactics, working around the state’s strengths – rather than against these - planning and executing operations with minimum losses, and spreading their network to areas, both rural and urban, where the state is evidently in a slumber.



Balochistan: The Army Blunders On
Guest Writer: Amir Mir in Pakistan
Former editor of Weekly Independent now affiliated with Reuters and Gulf News

The assassination of Nawab Akbar Shehbaz Khan Bugti, the legendary leader of the Baloch freedom struggle, in a brutal military operation by the Pakistan Army will have serious long-term repercussions on Pakistani politics, as a martyr is born to inspire the rebel Baloch nationalists in their ongoing struggle for greater rights and control over their natural resources.

In his death and the barbaric manner in which it was inflicted by those who wanted to establish their stronghold in Balochistan by setting up cantonments there, Bugti has already become a martyred hero for Baloch nationalists everywhere in Pakistan, rather than the anti-state tribesman General Musharraf sought to portray him as. To the warrior Bugti tribe, he was not only the tribal head but also the latest in a long line of nationalist leaders who tried to defend the province from exploitation by the Centre at the hands of the mighty Punjab-dominated military establishment.

“It is better to die — as the Americans say — with your spurs on. Instead of a slow death in bed, I would rather prefer death come to me while I am fighting for a purpose”. So said Akbar Bugti in May 2006 while talking to a Time magazine correspondent via satellite phone from the mountain refuge that eventually became his grave.

The 80-year old nationalist who wanted to fight to the death got his wish three months later when the Pakistani security forces killed him in a ruthless military operation on August 26. General Musharraf, who had declared Bugti a ‘terrorist’, made no bones about fulfilling the rebel leader’s desire.

Within hours of his death, described by many as an extra-judicial killing, Balochistan witnessed bloody reactions, leaving ten people dead and dozens injured. Over 500 people were detained in riots throughout the province, with many of the Baloch protesters targeting Punjabi-owned properties and businesses in Quetta, worsening already volatile ethnic divisions across Pakistan.

Born on July 12, 1927, Bugti attended the elite Aitchison College in Lahore and Oxford University, London before going into politics. Bugti, 80, a former Chief Minister and Governor of Balochistan, was considered an articulate spokesman for the Baloch cause for decades. Bugti was a member of the Shahi Jirga (Council) that had voted for the creation of Pakistan at the time of Partition in 1947. He became a member of the first Constituent Assembly and served as Minister of State for Interior and Defence in 1956. The gruesome murder of an avowed secularist like Bugti, who was concerned about the Talibanisation of Pakistani society, demonstrates how a so-called enlightened moderate military dictator treats his political opponents. Ironically, the Musharraf administration is negotiating with far more lethal hardline Islamist groups operating in the Waziristan tribal area.

To Musharraf and his cronies, Bugti was no more than an insurgent feudal lord who wanted to prevent development from reaching his tribesmen and who operated a ‘state within a state’. Musharraf used to describe Bugti as a miscreant, a term introduced by the British East India Company – a term which was last used widely in 1971 by the Pakistani military elite to describe the Bengali people of erstwhile East Pakistan. The General blamed Bugti for past insurgencies in Balochistan, and accused him of being a warlord running a well-organised militia, private courts and prisons, using his income from the gas fields in Dera Bugti.

The Pakistani armed forces had been carrying out an intense military operation against the Baloch rebels involving Special Services Group of the Army, tanks, artillery, helicopter gun ships and fighter jets. The security forces had succeeded in driving Bugti from his seat of power at Dera Bugti to the surrounding hills in Kohlu in March 2006, only to start resettling the rival factions of the Bugti tribe in areas that were previously under his control. Over 20,000 people of Masoori, Kalpar and other sub-tribes were transported back to Dera Bugti from different parts of Sindh and Punjab after Bugti was made to leave his hometown. At the same time, Baloch rebel leaders and their kin were made targets of a campaign of intimidation by the security forces.

On July 20, 2006, in an address to the nation, General Musharraf had said that for 40 years, three Baloch Sardars (Bugti, Mengal and Marri), who were opposed to development in Balochistan, had been pampered unjustifiably in the name of political settlement, ‘but no more’. “We are determined to re-establish the writ of the state in Balochistan by fixing the so-called Baloch Sardars. Over 16,000 sub-tribes of Bugti — Rahejas, Kalpars, Masouri — had already returned to Dera Bugti after years of repression by Nawab Bugti”. He added further insult to Baloch sensitivities, stating, “But I would not call him a Nawab any more as he is on the run.”

What actually prompted Musharraf to target Bugti was the firing of eight rockets in December 2005 that crashed into a Frontier Constabulary camp near Kohlu while the General was addressing a rally in the area. The rockets did not cause any casualties, but the next day a senior official of the Frontier Constabulary was injured while conducting an aerial reconnaissance of Kohlu when tribesmen fired on his helicopter. Musharraf was somehow made to believe that the rocket fire was an attempt to assassinate him. On the other hand, the Baloch rebels said that they wanted to lodge protest over the rape of a lady doctor Shazia Khalid in the Sui area of Balochistan by a captain of the Army who was exonerated by the military leadership. The rocket firing made Musharraf order a huge military operation against the Bugti tribe, accusing it of working against Pakistan at the behest of an ‘enemy country’, presumably India.

As the military operation was still on, a grand gathering, or Government sponsored jirga of Baloch tribal leaders convened in Dera Bugti on August 24, 2006, to announce the end of the sardari (chieftainship) system. The jirga declared that the sardari system of the Bugti tribe had been abolished forthwith and thanked General Musharraf for ‘emancipating’ the people of the area from the atrocities and excesses of the former tribal chief. The Jinnah Stadium, where the jirga was held, was filled with thousands of people from the Kalpar, Masoori, Firozani, Shambhani, Mandrani, Raheja and Marhata sub-tribes, known in the past for nursing feuds with the fleet-footed Akbar Bugti.

The participants of the jirga adopted 15 resolutions that significantly endorse Musharraf’s efforts to eliminate the perceived resistance shown by the Baloch in general and the Bugti sardar in particular. One resolution asked the Marri tribe to “hand over the accused Akbar Bugti to the Bugtis, so that justice is done to them in accordance with the tribal traditions”. The jirga further decided to confiscate all of Akbar Bugti’s assets and distribute them “among those who had suffered at his hands”. Ironically enough, after abolishing the sardari system, the jirga reverted to the “tribal system” and declared the local elections in the area null and void because the elected administrator of Dera Bugti had been backed by Akbar Bugti.

The next day – August 25, 2006 – the Army troops intensified their operation in the highlands around the Kohlu area and asked a besieged Bugti to surrender. On August 26, the Government announced that Akbar Bugti had been killed ‘in a military raid’. However, the Engineering Corps of the Pakistan Army took seven days to retrieve the body which was laid to rest on September 1, 2006, at his ancestral graveyard in the Dera Bugti area of Balochistan. Significantly, the military authorities did not allow anyone either to offer his funeral prayers or to see the dead body. The military spokesman had already declared that, as per the Bugti jirga’s decision, only a few family members would be allowed to attend the funeral.

The Musharraf administration also rejected his family members’ demand that the body be handed over to them for the burial. This infuriated his sons who decided not to attend the funeral. Despite repeated demands by the journalists present at the time of the burial, the khakis (Armymen) surrounding the coffin did not allow them a glimpse of the face or the body because, according to the authorities, they were badly mutilated and stinking and decaying. They added that the body was identified from the watch Akbar Bugti used to wear and his spectacles, evidence that has been questioned by Bugti’s sons.

In the meantime, Akbar Bugti’s two grandsons, Brahamdad Bugti and Ali Nawaz Bugti, who were earlier feared dead, have resurfaced and issued a statement saying that they would be leading the Baloch people in a war against Musharraf, their grandfather’s “killer”. The statement says the Baloch war against Islamabad would be intensified and it was the “responsibility of each and every Baloch to seek revenge for the murder”.

Almost three months before his assassination, having left his Fort in Dera Bugti and shifted to the dry and treeless mountains in Kohlu, Akbar Bugti had issued a message to the Baloch nation in April 2006 -- “Message from the Koh-e-Baloch (mountains of the Baloch) by the “Sipah Salar” (commander) Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti fighting for the defence of Baloch coast, resources and identity”. The memo referred to the Pakistani state and the Army as enemy of the Baloch nation and described the Baloch land as “Baloch Watan”. It stated that the very hills in the Makran, Chaghi, Bolan, Kahan, Kohlu and Dera Bugti areas have become a trench offering protection to the Baloch fighters and creating fear in the hearts of the “enemy forces”.

Bugti’s message was actually meant to motivate the Baloch youth to pick up the gun and fight a battle for survival in their ancestral land. The veteran Baloch autonomist was convinced that the ‘enemy’ understood the language of force alone and, consequently, the Baloch would have to battle it out to defend their 780-kilometers of coastline and riches of gas, oil, gold, silver and copper. He asked the Baloch nation to embrace martyrdom instead of becoming a minority in their own land. Bugti warned against the intrigues of fellow Baloch leaders with conduct similar to past sub-continental traitors like Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq. Bugti exhorted his Baloch nation to seek inspiration from the Iraqi Kurds, who braved Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons and offered immense sacrifices to win freedom. The symbols highlighted in Bugti’s message and its tough language left little doubt in one’s mind that he had finally embarked on a path of armed confrontation with Pakistan’s mighty military establishment. To him, the time for staging peaceful protests, holding negotiations and sitting in parliamentary committees was a thing of the past. Instead, he sought to inspire the Baloch youth to join the armed struggle that he had been leading from the front.

In line with Bugti’s message, the Government of Balochistan in Exile (GOBE) has called upon the Baloch nation to honour the death of the nationalist leader by preparing themselves for the next battle of the long and arduous Baloch War of Independence against the enemy force. Mir Azad Khan Baloch, General Secretary of the Government in Exile, has maintained in a statement that the only crime the slain nationalist had committed was that he wanted the oppressive Pakistani establishment to treat the oppressed Baloch people equitably.

Pakistan’s military rulers have, since Independence, ignored the fact the country is multiethnic and multi-religious, and unitary policies of an excessively centralised military order cannot work. The lack of democracy since Musharraf’s military coup in 1999 has only increased the sense of alienation among Sindhis, Pashtuns, Urdu-speaking Muhajirs and a host of smaller nationalities. Successive military rulers have failed to grasp the essentials of political management of the federal structure, and have consistently preferred to deal with the local issues through force, instead of working out a fair relationship with the provinces. Hussain Haqqani, a Washington-based Pakistani scholar, rightly notes that the repeated intervention of the Army in national politics has created an unfortunate situation where Army has been responsible for killing more Pakistanis as enemies of the state than it has eliminated foreign troops with whom Pakistan has gone to war.

Killing political opponents is undoubtedly a signal of a Musharraf’s growing weakness and desperation. For many Pakistanis, Bugti’s death is another thread torn loose, as Pakistan’s dangerous political and social unraveling under military rule continues. Bugti’s death has further fanned Baloch nationalism, and will strengthen the separatist sentiment in the province.

With Bugti’s heroic death, the Baloch rebels have lost a charismatic leader, whose dogged resistance in the face of the military might was a source of inspiration. The Baloch have very genuine grievances: the natural gas being explored from the trouble-stricken province for decades was not available even in Quetta, the provincial capital, until the 1980s – and then only because an army cantonment needed it – despite the gas having reached far-flung towns in Punjab by that time. The gas from Balochistan meets 38 per cent of national needs, yet only 6 per cent of Balochistan’s 6.5 million people have access to it. The Balochis have almost no representation in the civil and the military bureaucracy, in part reflecting their province’s dismal educational infrastructure.

Independent analysts believe that resolving the Balochistan issue requires more than settling a single issue, such as the exploitation of its natural resources, the setting up of new cantonments, or the continuing hostility surrounding natural gas reserves. They are of the view that the use of brute force will only alienate the people further, leaving them with little option but to fight for economic and political justice.

Bugti’s exit does, however, make it much easier for the Army to buy off, play off or bump off other feudal leaders, as it has always done to keep the province under control. Since Akbar Bugti had outlived many of his sons and grandsons, the Baloch rebellion faces a leadership vacuum at its highest echelon.

Does this mean the end of the Baloch insurgency? Or will the deep-seated feeling of alienation among the Baloch further intensify the armed struggle in Balochistan?

Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti had addressed this question in his May 2006 interview to Time magazine, a few months before his death: “We, the Baloch people believe that the best way to die is to die fighting. We Baloch are the masters of our own destiny. And if that is taken away from us, then life doesn’t really matter”.


Long Talks to Nowhere
Wasbir Hussain
Guwahati-based Political Analyst and Associate Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi

On August 31, 2006, at the end of a four-day meeting between the two border forces at Shillong, Border Security Force (BSF) Inspector General S.K. Dutta and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Deputy Director General, Brigadier S.M. Golam Rabbani, tried to bring about some ‘forward movement’ to their routine meet, which would otherwise have ended without any tangible result, as always. The two delegations drew up a list of confidence building measures (CBMs) which they thought would result in a much needed breakthrough, particularly in so far as maintenance of tranquility along the border is concerned. Some of the proposed CBMs included: sports and cultural exchanges, with the respective BSF and BDR sector commanders deciding on the performances by cultural troupes; honouring of decisions taken at Flag Meetings between the two border forces; and non-interference in the execution of development works along the border on both sides like road and bridge construction or renovation etc.

Hardly had Brigadier Rabbani and his delegation crossed over to their country, driving through the Indian border post of Dawki, in Meghalaya, when men of the BDR and the BSF were locked in a gunbattle near the BSF post of Labourpota, in Southern Assam’s Cachar district. “There was a 15-minute exchange of fire between the BSF and the BDR on the evening of August 31, but there were no casualties,” Cachar District Magistrate Gautam Ganguly told this writer. A BSF official in the area, close to the border, disclosed that his men opened fire after a group of Bangladeshi farmers sneaked in and tried to harvest paddy, ignoring warnings from the soldiers to leave the area which ‘belongs to India.’ The action by the Indian border guards invited a volley of gunfire from the BDR men posted across the border. It was the third time in August 2006 alone that the BSF and the BDR were engaged in firing at each other, the last being on August 10 when two women, both civilians, were killed on the Indian side after being hit by 82 mm mortar shells used by the BDR men.

While a kind of military adventurism by the BDR towards India – despite the fact that this paramilitary force as well as the Bangladesh Army have not really tasted war yet – has become routine, it is nonetheless surprising that the BDR should have allowed the Bangladeshi farmers to proceed to the area of dispute at a time when senior officials were meeting at Shillong, and then to engage in an exchange of fire. It is interesting at this point to look at the tenor of the statement that the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs released on August 27, 2006, at the end of the four-day 7th Indo-Bangladesh Home Secretary-level talks in Dhaka. The statement notes: “The talks took place in an atmosphere of utmost cordiality, candour and friendship. It was noted by both sides that India and Bangladesh enjoyed the friendliest of bilateral relations that were multifaceted and rich in both content and scope…” If this is the bond between the two South Asian neighbours, why is it that fire-fights between the BSF and the BDR take place at the slightest of provocations?

During the latest talks, on most of the contentious issues, the BDR delegation – indeed, Bangladesh – fell back on flat denial, as usual. The BSF presented the BDR team with a list of 172 Indian insurgent camps or hideouts inside Bangladesh territory and a list of 103 militants, including the chairman and the ‘chief of staff’ or military chief of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Arabinda Rajkhowa and Paresh Baruah respectively. The BDR reiterated the official that no Indian insurgent camps exist inside Bangladesh nor were any Indian militants operating from that country. Nothing surprising so far. But, significantly, a fact the may have surprised the BSF team, was that the BDR, contrary to earlier practice, did not had over a list of criminal elements from Bangladesh allegedly in India or a list of camps supposedly used by Bangladeshi criminal elements inside Indian territory – a reflexive practice long adopted by Bangladesh in the face of Indian allegations. In the past, Bangladesh would promptly come up with a ‘counter-list’ the moment Indian authorities brought up details of Indian militants or Indian militant camps inside Bangladeshi territory.

Another significant point was the ease with which the visitors admitted the fact that global terrorism was affecting Bangladesh. “The BDR team agreed that the menace of terrorism needs to be fought and tackled jointly by the two neighbours,” Inspector General Dutta, who headed the BSF delegation at the talks, told this writer. During the Dhaka talks between the Home Secretaries, New Delhi had pointed out that recent terrorist incidents in India have revealed clear links with Bangladeshi individuals or outfits like Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HUJI). Concern was also expressed by India with regard to growing anti-India activities of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from Bangladeshi soil. It was agreed by both sides that terrorism posed a threat to both countries and that there was a need to cooperate closely to tackle this menace. One of the important decisions taken by both sides at the Dhaka meeting was to examine the possibility of quickly instituting a bilateral mechanism to combat terrorism and organized crime, with the BSF-BDR meet picking up the issue from where the two Home Secretaries had left it.

Why is India finding it so difficult to tackle Bangladesh? Why is India’s eastern frontier, particularly the 4,000 kilometre-long border with Bangladesh spiked with problems? Dhaka denies the presence of Indian militant camps or militants on its territory; it claims there has been no illegal migration of its citizens to India; it refuses to give India access to the Chittagong Port to service the landlocked northeastern states, and generally pursues a blow-hot-blow-cold relationship with India. New Delhi’s predicament is understandable: a country that is the undisputed ‘super power’ in the sub-continent cannot be expected to acknowledge its problems and its failure to resolve such problems, with a small neighbour. That perhaps explains New Delhi’s so-called magnanimity towards Dhaka despite the irritants.

The shrill anti-India campaign in Bangladesh, on the other hand, conforms to domestic political pressures. With New Delhi seen to be overtly or covertly supportive of the Awami League, the other major political formation, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has always viewed India with a great deal of suspicion. India also needs to shake off its 1971 hangover and not expect Dhaka to be still grateful for Delhi’s contribution in securing the country’s freedom. With national elections forthcoming in Bangladesh, a fresh bout of anti-India sentiments may be mobilized for electoral ends by various political formations. Under the circumstances, it remains improbable that New Delhi will succeed in bending Dhaka to make it change some of its stated positions on contentious issues in the near future.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
August 28-September 3, 2006

Security Force Personnel




     Jammu &


    Left-wing Extremism








Total (INDIA)



 Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Two youths arrested for grenade attacks on UK envoy and former finance minister: Police on September 2, 2006, arrested two youth from Habiganj in connection with the grenade attacks on the British High Commissioner on May 21, 2004, and the former Finance Minister Shah A.M.S. Kibria on January 27, 2005. They were identified as Bipul and Mizan. An investigator said that the duo have admitted to their involvement with the incidents. "They admitted to having thrown the grenades themselves," the investigator claimed. The Daily Star, September 4, 2006.


Terrorism spreading to new areas, rise in infiltration, indicates Union Home Ministry: An agenda paper prepared by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for the September 5, 2006, conclave of Chief Ministers on internal security, reportedly says that cross-border terrorism has spread to the hinterland and infiltration, in comparison to the same period last year, has trebled. Pakistan still continues to aid and abet terrorism and terrorist groups, particularly the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), are targeting India with the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), according to the Paper. The total number of infiltration attempts have doubled from 21 (January-July 2005) to 50 (January-July 2006) while the number of infiltration attempts foiled have declined during the same period. According to the Paper, cross-border infiltration has nearly trebled from 170 (January-July, 2005) to 476 (January-July, 2006). The number of grenade attacks in Jammu and Kashmir (January-July 2006) totaled 176. Although the Home Ministry claims that the total number of incidents involving Maoists between January-July 2006 has gone down to 930 as compared to 1039 during January-July 2005, the number of casualties has increased from 407 to 487 during the same period. The agenda paper says Naxalites are now organising themselves on military lines. Indian Express, September 4, 2006.

CPI (ML) Janashakti ‘Central Committee Secretary’ arrested in Uttar Pradesh: The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – Janashakti or CPI-ML-Janashakti ‘Central Committee secretary’ and four other ‘State Committee’ leaders of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were arrested from a bus stand in the Barabanki District of Uttar Pradesh on August 31, 2006. They were identified as Central Committee Secretary Kura Rajaiah alias Rajanna, State Committee members for Andhra Pradesh, Yerramreddy Narasimha Reddy alias Satyam, Nambhi Narsimhaiah alias Ram Pullaiah, Maharashtra State Committee secretary Ramakishan Pawar alias Ram and the District Committee secretary of Bijnore District, Uttar Pradesh, Ashok Kumar Rajputh. Police also recovered a .32 pistol, one HE 36 hand grenade, 40 electric detonators, an 8 mm rifle, a 9 mm rifle, several cartridges, INR 300,000 in cash, party literature and 36 important documents, besides their personal belongings. Hindu Onnet, September 3, 2006.

BSF asks BDR to neutralize 172 camps and hand over 103 militants: A three-day meeting between Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) officials concluded at Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. During the meet, the BSF asked the BDR to neutralize 172 camps run inside Bangladesh by militants operating in North East India. It also asked BDR to hand over 103 militants and 58 sympathisers of these outfits residing in Bangladesh to India. However, the BDR refused to acknowledge the presence of militants in their country.

The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) topped the list with 38 camps spread over the Districts of Khagrachhari, Sherpur, Bandarban, Sylhet, Cox's Bazaar, Mymensingh, Rangamati, Sunamganj, Kurigram, Tangail, Chittagong, Comilla and Jamalpur. While the Biswamohan Debbarma faction of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) has 30 camps, Nayanbasi Jamatiya and Joshua factions of the NLFT have four camps each. The number of camps run by other outfits are: All Tiger Tripura Force (ATTF)-11, Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF)-1, People’s Liberation Army (PLA)-12, National Socialist Council of Nagaland–Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM)-14, National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)-14, Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA)-11, Kangleipak Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL)-3, Islamic United Reformation Protest of India (IURPI)-3, United National Liberation Front (UNLF)-1, People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK)–1 and Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO)–6. The Shillong Times, September 1 , 2006.

Maoist violence has come down, discloses Union Home Secretary: Union Home Secretary Vinod K. Duggal, who presided over the 21st coordination meeting of Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police of 13 Maoist-affected States said, “Barring Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, violence has come down in rest of the Naxal-affected States.” He disclosed that the rise in Maoist-related violence in the past six months in Chhattisgarh is due to the intensification of the Salwa Judum movement and increase in encounters resulting in more casualties. “This year, till July, 84 anti-Naxal counter-operations took place in Chhattisgarh and 35 Naxal cadres have been neutralized. Last year, the number of counter operations was 64,’’ said Duggal, adding that 13 battalions have been deployed in the State. In the rest of the Maoist-affected States like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the incidents of the Naxalite attacks have come down, Duggal stated. He disclosed further that Andhra Pradesh witnessed declining levels of Maoist violence during the first seven months of 2006, as compared to the same period last year. As against only 20 civilian deaths till July 31, 2006, the State reported 126 deaths during the same period in 2005, he said. There were 24 casualties in 119 incidents till July 31, 2006, as compared to 114 casualties in 376 incidents till July 31, 2005 in Andhra Pradesh. The Hindu, August 31, 2006.

Special anti-Maoist force to be raised: The Union Government is reportedly raising a special combat force of nearly 14,000 personnel to tackle Maoists in the 13 States affected by left-wing extremism. The proposed force would comprise 9,000 personnel of the Central paramilitary and State police forces and 5,000 ex-servicemen trained in fighting terrorism and dealing with improvised explosive devices and mines. The force is currently undergoing training in specialised camps set up by the Army in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and other places. As many as 52 companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary and India Reserve Battalions are also being trained to carry out anti-Maoist tasks. The Hindu, August 30, 2006.

384 persons killed and 327 wounded in militancy in Tripura from 2003 to July 2006: Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, while replaying to a written question raised by the Leader of Opposition Ratan Lal Nath in the Legislative Assembly on August 28, 2006, stated that 384 persons were killed and 327 injured in militancy in the State from 2003 to July 2006. While 356 civilians, mostly non-tribals, were abducted by militants during the period, 26 abducted persons are yet to return. Sarkar mentioned that at least 305 militancy-related incidents were reported in the State during 2003. While 115 incidents occurred in 2005, only 56 such incidents were reported till July 2006, said the Chief Minister. He added that 39 security force (SF) personnel were killed by militants in 2003, while 47 soldiers were shot dead by militants in 2004. The casualty figure of SFs was only eight in 2006. According to the Chief Minister, 396 militants and 1,449 collaborators were arrested during last five years. Tripura Info, August 30, 2006.


PLA will not be confined in cantonments before restructuring of state, says Maoist Chairman Prachanda: Maoist chairman Prachanda has said the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will not be confined in cantonments before the state is completely restructured. Speaking at a function on September 3, 2006, in Kathmandu, Prachanda warned that the Maoists would start an 'urban uprising' if peace talks failed to provide a solution. He also asked the cadres to be ready for new 'urban uprising' and added that his party would continue the protests unless the state made public the whereabouts of all the disappeared people. Speaking at the same function, Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai said the Constituent Assembly elections were not possible without restructuring the Nepali Army. He also warned that Maoists would not hesitate in entering the Army barracks to find out the whereabouts of disappeared people if the Government failed to do so. Nepal News, September 3, 2006.


Insurgents kill 11 Pakistanis and three Indians in Iraq: Fourteen Pakistani and Indian Shia pilgrims were abducted and subsequently killed by insurgents in the Anbar province of Iraq, police said on September 2, 2006. The 11 Pakistanis and three Indians, all male, had been traveling to holy Shia sites in Iraq on August 31 when they were attacked in Anbar province, the heartland of the Sunni insurgency. An official at the al-Hussein hospital in the Shia holy city of Karbala, where the bodies were taken on September 1, said the 14 men had their hands bound and had been shot in the head. The attackers “freed the women and children and shot dead the men, execution-style,” Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Karim Khalaf said. Daily Times, September 3, 2006.

Nawab Akbar Bugti buried in Balochistan: Leader of the Baloch tribe, Nawab Akbar Bugti, killed on August 26, 2006, by security forces, was buried at his ancestral graveyard in Dera Bugti in Balochistan on September 1. The funeral prayer was led by a cleric from the Bugti tribe who identified Bugti's remains, and no heirs of Bugti were present at the funeral. Officials said that Bugti's relatives were contacted for attending the funeral, but they demanded handing over the body to the heirs. Bugti's relatives reportedly wanted an open funeral for Bugti in Quetta and refused to attend the funeral after their demand for being given the body was turned down.

Earlier, on August 31, a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Jam Muhammad Yousuf was informed that rioters had set ablaze or damaged 93 Government buildings, 87 shops, 31 houses, 28 banks and 37 vehicles in the preceding four days in various parts of the province, including capital Quetta. Mobs protesting the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti cut off the main highway connecting Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, to Karachi at four points and another heading west to Iran on August 30, as the number of arrests in four days rose to nearly 700. Further, at least five persons were killed in a bomb blast at Hub, an industrial town close to the Sindh border, on August 29. Rioting and protests was also reported from Karachi. (Source: Reportage from the English language media )

Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed detained again: Authorities detained Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), an hour after he was released following a court ruling that his detention was illegal, his lawyer and spokesman said on August 29, 2006. “It is a mockery of the law. It is an insult to the court. They wanted to show the court that the executive is more powerful than the judiciary,” his lawyer, Nazir Ahmed Ghazi, told Reuters. Hafiz Saeed was first placed under house arrest on August 10, but the Lahore High Court ordered his release on August 28, saying the Government had not provided sufficient evidence to justify his detention. Ghazi said Saeed had been taken to jail and would be held for two months, adding he would challenge the detention. The News, August 30, 2006.


Government freezes Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation funds: The Sri Lanka Government froze bank accounts of the Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), a non-government organisation that operates mainly in the northeast and is believed to be a front organisation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The TRO is a registered charity with the Government with its head office at Kilinochchi, the operational headquarters of the LTTE. Defence spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella said, "It is a follow up to the arrest of eight persons by the U.S. on August 19 on charges of conspiring to provide material support to LTTE as well as legislation by Sri Lanka Parliament last month against money laundering. There are certain charges against the TRO and if the investigations do not reveal any link, the freeze would be lifted." The Financial Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank has begun investigating the TRO financial transactions under the recently introduced Financing of Terrorism Law. Meanwhile, the TRO in a statement said that on August 29 it was informed by several banks that they had been instructed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to "freeze" all TRO accounts. Daily News, The Hindu, September 4, 2006.

80 LTTE cadres killed in sea battle off the Jaffna peninsula: The Sri Lankan military said it has sunk 12 boats of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and killed 80 of its cadres in a sea battle off the northern Jaffna peninsula on September 1-2, 2006. The LTTE has not yet confirmed any casualties but said two Government boats had been sunk off Kankesanturai. Witnesses said the battle continued all night and hundreds of civilians sought refuge in schools and churches. The defence ministry said five of the LTTE boats had been suicide vessels laden with explosives. The navy said 20 LTTE boats had attacked a patrol near the Kankesanturai harbour, adding that two Government boats were slightly damaged and two sailors wounded. BBC, August 30, 2006.

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

A Project of the
Institute For Conflict Management

To receive FREE advance copies of SAIR by email Subscribe.

Recommend South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) to a friend.





Copyright © 2001 SATP. All rights reserved.