26/11: Trial and Errors | Assam: Slippery Slope to Chaos | South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR), Vol. No. 11.21
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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 11, No. 21, November 26, 2012

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South Asia Terrorism Portal


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26/11: Trial and Errors
Sanchita Bhattacharya
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

The fourth anniversary of the November 26, 2008 (26/11), carnage has been marked by the hanging of Mohammed Ajmal Mohammad Amir Kasab alias Abu Mujahid, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist who survived the attack. Kasab was hanged to death at the Yerawada Prison in Pune (Maharashtra) at 07:30 hrs on November 21, 2012, with the final proceedings kept secret under “Operation-X”.

Kasab was arrested on November 26, 2008, the first day of the attack – which lasted almost 62 hours – and was lodged in the Arthur Road Prison in Pune. The trial in the case begun on April 25, 2009. While he was convicted and given capital punishment by the trial court on May 6, 2010, two Indian co-accused, Fahim Harshad Mohammad Yusuf and Sababuddin Shaikh, accused of providing logistic support for attacks, were acquitted. The sentence was upheld by the Bombay High Court on February 21, 2011. The Supreme Court of India subsequently upheld the sentence on August 29, 2012. Kasab then filed a mercy petition to President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. On October 16, 2012, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs recommended the rejection of Kasab's mercy petition and forwarded the same to President. The Presidential order was passed on November 5, 2012, and, after due process in the Courts, November 21, 2012, was fixed for the execution. Kasab was then transferred to the Yerawada Prison.

26/11 was a defining event because of the enormity of the attack. 166 people – including civilians and Police/Security Forces personnel as well as 26 foreign national – were killed in the operation. Significantly, this is the first attack in which the investigations and further trails have led to the execution of a Pakistani terrorist on Indian soil.

Over 90,000 people have been killed in terrorism and insurgency-related violence across India since 1981, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database. Despite India’s long experience of Pakistan-backed terrorism, Kasab is only the sixth terrorist to be hanged in this country. However, the first to be hanged was Maqbool Bhat, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) ‘president’, on February 11, 1984, for the murder of a Police Inspector; Kehar Singh and Satwant Singh Bakher were hanged for the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on January 6, 1989; and Sukhdev Singh ‘Sukhha’ and Harjinder Singh ‘Jinda' were hanged on October 9, 1992, for the assassination of the former Chief of Army Staff, General Arun Sridhar Vaidya.

Kasab and another nine Pakistani terrorists had landed in South Mumbai on 26/11 after travelling from Karachi (Sindh, Pakistan) by sea, and had gone on a shooting spree at various landmarks in Mumbai. The Mumbai Police had succeeded in capturing Kasab alive, though the remaining nine terrorists were killed.

Kasab was, of course, little more than a pawn or foot-soldier, and his death is just the end of one chapter, and not the conclusion of the much wider narrative of Pakistan backed terrorism on Indian soil. The real masterminds and perpetrators of 26/11 continue to move freely in Pakistan or are maintained in style and comfort, and with great operational freedom, ‘in prison’.

Soon after the attack, India had conveyed to Pakistan that Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, the founding chief of LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), was the main architect of the attack and, in subsequent dossiers, gave the full details of the attack, as well as the identities of the other perpetrators and conspirators, all of whom were acting under Saeed’s instructions. Subsequently, the India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), in its charge sheet dated December 24, 2011, listed 11 Pakistanis as the accused in the case: Hafiz Muhammed Saeed; Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, ‘operations commander of LeT; Sajid Majid and Abdur Rehman Hashim, both Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Majors (retired); Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali, both serving ISI Majors; Ilyas Kashmiri, al Qaeda's main ‘operational commander’ and ‘chief’ of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), Pakistani American David Coleman Headley and Chicago based Pakistan born businessman Tahawwur Hussain Rana. In its Judgment in the Kasab case, the Supreme Court of India named 35 wanted accused, including Saeed, Lakhvi and others.

The extradition, arrest and subsequent confessions of one of the principal handlers of the 26/11 operation, LeT operative Syed Zaibuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, have thrown further light on the Pakistani – particularly Saeed’s – involvement.  According to Jundal, Hafiz Saeed was present in the Karachi Control Room during the 26/11 attacks, along with Muzammil Butt, LeT ‘operational commander’.

In a parallel trial that started in the Chicago (USA) District Court on May 23, 2011, Headley testified on May 25 that he had conversations with Tahawwur Rana, who was accused of helping the attackers and providing support to LeT and a retired Pakistan military officer Abdur Rehman, known as 'Pasha'. Headley confirmed that the ISI Directorate and elements in Pakistan's military coordinated with LeT and other Pakistan militants. Headley also admitted to carrying out extensive reconnaissance in India, including extended surveillance in Mumbai, which contributed to the planning of 26/11. According to his disclosures during interrogation, Headley travelled to Mumbai in September 2006, February 2007, September 2007, April 2008 and July 2008, for the purpose of conducting surveillance of possible targets of attacks by LeT. Rana is to be sentenced for his role in 26/11 on December 4, 2012. Yet, no date has been set for sentencing Headley, who pleaded guilty on March 18, 2010, in a plea bargain to escape the death sentence. Headley had been arrested on October 3, 2009, and Rana on October 18, 2009.

Though the judicial and appeals process in India took four years before it culminated in Kasab’s hanging, Pakistan is still dragging on with the case in a Trial Court, though action had purportedly been initiated shortly after the attack. On November 30, 2008, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari declared that the people of India should see the Mumbai terrorist attacks as the action of ‘non-state actors’ and pledged ‘quick action’ against any individual or group shown to be involved. However, efforts to protect the guilty quickly began and, on January 4, 2009, the then Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi insisted that the 26/11 suspects would not be handed over to India as "we do not have an extradition treaty with India nor with the US”. It is a different matter that this has not prevented Pakistan from handing over a number of terrorists to the US, including Abu Yahya al-Libi (second-in-command of al Qaeda); Ramzi Bin al-Shibh (member of al Qaeda Hamburg Cell and a facilitator of the 9/11 attacks); Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (al Qaeda terrorist and involved in 9/11); Ramzi Ahmed Yousef (1993 World Trade Center Attacker); and Mir Aimal Kansi (involved in 1993 killing of CIA employees in CIA Headquarters of Washington DC), among others.

In order to project the idea of ‘taking action’ in the case, in the wake of mounting US pressure, Lakhvi and the six others accused in the 26/11 attacks – Abdul Wajid alias Zarar Shah, also of the LeT and described as a "facilitator and expert of computer networks"; Hamad Amin Sadiq, charged with "facilitating funds and hideouts" to 26/11 attackers; Mazhar Iqbal alias Abu al Qama, "handler"; Shahid Jamil Riaz, both facilitator for funds, as well as a crew member of the boat (Kuber) used by the attackers; Jamil Ahmed and Younus both "facilitators” – were arrested on December 7, 2008, near Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) by Pakistani Security Forces. Saeed was also put under house arrest on December 11, 2008, but was let off by the Lahore High Court on June 2, 2009, for "lack of evidence" linking him to terror outfits, including al Qaeda. He was again put under house arrest on September 21, 2009, following an Interpol Red Corner Notice dated August 25, 2009, but was again released by the Lahore High Court on October 12, 2009. Then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani argued, on May 13, 2012, "If you arrest him (Hafiz Saeed) that means he will be released by the courts. For the courts you need more evidence. You know the judiciary is completely independent in Pakistan."

Unsurprisingly, the trail in Pakistan has faced roadblocks right from the initial stages. The case was registered in Pakistan on February 15, 2009. The first charge sheet against the accused was filed on May 5, 2009, in the Anti-Terrorism Court (set up in Adiala Jail of Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan) under Judge Sakhi Mohammad Kahut. On May 23, 2009, when the Court was expected to formally indict the accused, Justice Kahut’s tenure expired. Justice Baqir Ali Rana was appointed in his place, but, on October 21, 2009, ‘expressed’ his inability to continue with the proceedings. Those close to him claimed that Justice Rana quit because the lawyers representing the accused boycotted court proceedings in protest against his decision to formally charge the seven suspects in their absence. The judge is also said to have received threats. On October 24, 2009, Justice Malik Mohammed Akram Awan, took charge of the case and hearings recommenced from October 31, 2009. He directed the prosecution to provide Kasab’s confessional statement and other documentary evidence against the accused. The hearing was adjourned till November 21, 2009. Awan, however, formally charged Lakhvi and six others on November 25, 2009, with planning, financing and facilitating the attacks. 16 people, including Kasab, were declared “proclaimed offenders”. But, in order to bury Hafiz Saeed's role as the prime strategist behind the attacks, the court named Lakhvi as the ‘mastermind’.

Reports on November 22, 2012, indicated that in addition to the seven accused, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had identified as many as 20 others, who allegedly planned and executed 26/11 attacks. According to the report, the FIA has gathered the photographs of all the 20 terror suspects, involved directly or indirectly in the 26/11 attacks, in addition to other important information. These suspects are said to have provided logistical and monetary support to the 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai. During the probe, it was also revealed that these 20 suspects visited Muzaffarabad in PoK and Chahcho in Sindh to receive training at various LeT centres.

Soon after formal charges were framed, Awan was replaced by Judge Rana Nisar Ahmed, who was transferred out on June 11, 2011. He was replaced by Shahid Rafique, who was, again, transferred, without reason, on June 6, 2012. Rafique was replaced by Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman, who is presently in charge of the case.

The frequent change or transfer of Judges appears to be little more than a tactic or ploy to delay the trial. However, some seriousness may now be emerging. On November 3, 2012, Chief Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali, in an application, stated that there had been an inordinate delay in the case and this was not giving a good impression of Pakistan to the world. Ali commented, "The anti-terrorism courts were established for speedy trial of the accused. Under Section 19(7) of the Anti- Terrorism Act of 1997, the speedy trial of the accused is mandatory”. He accused the defence lawyers of resorting to delaying tactics for the past four years and asked the court to look into this matter.

With Kasab gone, the theatre of action will be concentrated in Pakistan, putting more pressure on Islamabad to demonstrate visible progress in the prosecution. This does not, however, appear to have dampened the spirit of the extremists in Pakistan. Hafiz Saeed continues to openly deliver “hate speeches”, with authorities turning a blind-eye to his activities, and continuing to pamper him on the pretext of the “non-availability” of “credible evidence”. Kasab’s execution has also provided the LeT and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) an opportunity to come into the limelight again and issue “fresh threats” against India. On November 21, 2012, TTP ‘spokesperson’, Ehsanullah Ehsan declared (from an undisclosed location), “There is no doubt that it is very shocking news and a big loss that a Muslim has been hanged on Indian soil…. We have decided to target Indians to avenge the killing of Ajmal Kasab”. A LeT ‘commander’ also pronounced, “He [Kasab] was a hero and will inspire other fighters to follow his path”. There appears to be little likelihood, consequently, that the 26/11 trial will reach its logical conclusion in the near future.

In the interim, the Indian Government’s listless measures, including the setting up of mega institutions such as the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the creation of National Security Guard (NSG) hubs in major metropoliis – Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad; the incomplete National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID); and other initiatives, have had little impact on the ground, and former Union Minister of Home Affairs P. Chidambaram had repeatedly conceded that India’s cities remained as vulnerable to terrorist attack as they were on 26/11. There have, however, been significant operational successes in the intervening years, including the arrest of 538 persons involved in Islamist extremism, particularly LeT and Students Islamic Movement of India/Indian Mujahideen (SIMI/IM) cadres, ISI agents and Bangladeshi, Nepali and Pakistani nationals. Nevertheless, as long as the terrorist formations continue to receive support from Pakistan and to thrive in safe havens in that country, the threat of terrorism will continue to haunt India.

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Assam: Slippery Slope to Chaos
Giriraj Bhattacharjee
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

At a time when Assam was believed to be fast moving toward establishing a lasting peace, the lackadaisical approach of the authorities has once again pushed the State under the shadow of large-scale violence. 2010 and 2011 had seen comprehensive improvements on the security front, but 2012 has already recorded repeated large-scale conflagrations involving Bodos and Muslims. After a first cycle appeared to have died down, violence appears to be escalating once more.

Between July 20 and September 18, 2012, the Assam witnessed bloody clashes in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) areas, between Bodos, the largest plain tribals in the State, and immigrant Muslims, in Lower Assam. The violence according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database left at least 109 dead. According to a State Home Department statement released on September 16, 2012, 5,000 houses were set ablaze in 244 villages and 187,052 persons affected by the violence were still lodged in 206 camps, even two months after the troubles broke out in five Lower Assam Districts. The displaced persons in the camps included 168,875 Muslims, housed in 174 camps; 17,344 Bodos in 29 camps; and 833 belonging to other communities, in three camps. The Dhubri District had the highest number of 101,373 inmates in 129 camps; followed by Kokrajhar District with 55,760 inmates in 43 camps; Chirang with 23,609 inmates in 22 camps; Bongaigaon with 5,554 inmates in nine camps; and 756 people in three camps in Barpeta. The July-September conflagration was the second such clash involving Bodos and Muslims since the formation of the BTC in 2003. The first confrontation occurred in 2008, and claimed 55 lives.

Just as normalcy appeared to be restored, another round of violence started on November 10, 2012, and has already left 11 dead and six injured in nine incidents in Kokrajhar and Baksa Districts (all data till November 23, 2012). Interestingly, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), BTC, S.N. Singh had stated, on September 5, “Peace is gradually returning as there has been no fresh violence in the area." The last of three killings after September 5 (the date on which the statement was made) occurred on September 18, and this was construed as a sign of the return of normalcy. The recent surge, however, demonstrates the fragility of the ‘peace’ that has been restored. The number of people in relief camps has now come down to roughly 36,000. The current conflagration, in fact, occurred as a result of attempts by some of the displaced people to return to their homes at the time of harvest. G.P. Singh, Inspector-General of Police (BTAD) noted: "If a farmer can harvest his crop, he is richer by 15,000-25,000 rupees. If he is stopped from harvesting, those who stop him can enrich themselves in turn." He also noted that the first round of violence had been timed with the sowing season.

While the Bodo-Muslim conflagration has resumed after a four-year hiatus, the levels of militant violence have remained more or less the same in comparison to the preceding year. 83 persons, including 50 militants, 30 civilians and three Security Force (SF) personnel, were killed in 64 incidents of killing in 2012, while total fatalities in 2011 (till November 23) stood at 91, including 45 militants, 31 civilians and 15 SF personnel, in 63 incidents. The number of incidents and civilian deaths remain nearly the same, but a sharp decrease in the number of SF personnel killed reflects some operational successes on the part of the state. 

Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Assam: 2005-2012




















Source: SATP, *Till November 23, 2012.

Unfortunately, militancy-related fatalities have been on the rise in the second half of the current year, after registering a decline in the first half. There were 38 fatalities in the first half of 2012, with the rising to 45 in the second half (till November 23).  By comparison, January-June fatalities in 2011 stood at 51, declining to 40 between July and November 23.

At least 58 persons were also abducted in 28 incidents through 2012, according to partial data compiled by SATP, as compared to 46 abducted in 26 incidents in 2011. On March 27, 2012, State Forest Minister Rokybul Hussain, however, told the State Assembly that 56 abduction cases had already been registered in the State since January 2012. Hussain further disclosed that, between 2006 and 2011, there had been 456 cases of abduction in the State.

Meanwhile, the SFs arrested 534 militants in 2012, as compared to 407 in 2011. The number stood at 425 in 2010. Of the militants arrested in 2012, the Anti-Talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA-ATF) accounted for 112; and the Ranjan Daimari faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-RD), 79. In one of the most prominent incidents, on October 27, 2012, the SFs arrested three United Democratic Liberation Army (UDLA) militants at Churaibari checkgate on the Assam-Tripura border, including Dhanyaram Reang, 'chief' of the UDLA.

Sustained pressure on the militant formations has resulted in the surrender of another 707 militants during the course of the year. On January 24, 2012, 676 militants belonging to seven militant formations surrendered at a function held at the indoor stadium inside the Sarusajai Sports Complex in Guwahati. The surrendered militants were drawn from the Adivasi People’s Army (APA), All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA), Santhal Tiger Force (STF), United Kukigam Defence Army (UKDA), Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA), Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) and Hmar Peoples Convention-Democratic (HPC-D). The militants deposited 202 weapons during the ceremony. The Adivasi outfits had formed a united forum and had informal meetings with representatives of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

The year also witnessed the signing of peace accords with the major Dimasa outfits in the State. On October 8, 2012, the Central and State Governments signed a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) with both factions of the Dima Halim Daogah – the Dilip Nunisa faction (DHD-N)  and the Jewel Garlosa faction [(DHD-J also known as Black Widow (BW) ]. These agreements came eight years after the signing of a ceasefire agreement with the undivided DHD. The MoS was signed by Dilip Nunisa and Jewel Garlosa on behalf of the DHD factions, and by Joint Secretary (North-East), Shambhu Singh and Assam Principal Secretary Home and Political, Sailesh.

Several militant groups still remain in the State, with surviving armed cadres, though many of these are under various processes of negotiation with the Government. The State has already established a ceasefire and is engaged in negotiations with the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF); the Pro-Talks faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-PTF); as well as the Pro-Talks faction of ULFA (ULFA-PTF).

NDFB-RD has also declared an indefinite ceasefire since August 2011, but SF operations against the outfit continue due to its involvement in several subsequent incidents of violence. The NDFB-RD also appears to be heading for a split. The group led by the ‘chief’ of Bodoland Army (the armed wing of the faction), I.K. Songbijit, on November 20, 2012, announced the formation of a nine member “interim national council”, with Songbijit as its self-proclaimed “interim president”. Other members of the “interim council” include ‘interim vice-president’ B. Naison; ‘interim general secretary’ B. Saoraigwra; ‘deputy military secretary’ B. Jwngshar; ‘assistant finance secretary’ B. Sansula; ‘assistant forest secretary’ B. Sibigiri; ‘assistant organising secretary’ H. Leba; ‘assistant publicity secretary’ C. Rwikha; ‘member’ B. Dwmwilu; and ‘captain’ G. Bidai as the ‘deputy chief of Bodoland Army’. Myanmar-based I.K. Songbijit called off the ‘indefinite ceasefire’ on August 8, 2012. However, the move was later dismissed by NDFB-RD ‘publicity secretary’, B. Naijab.

Meanwhile, ULFA-ATF, Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT) and the State unit of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), remain outside the purview of any ceasefire agreement or negotiations, and continue to be involved in violent activities.

ULFA-ATF, with an estimated cadre-strength of 225-250 militants, has escalated its involvement in violent incidents. The group was involved in at least 19 killings (in 16 incidents) in 2012. It was also responsible for 15 bomb blasts, out of a total of 29 recorded across the State in the year. In 2011, the group had been responsible for four explosions out of a total of 11 recorded in the State. ULFA-ATF is also part of the Northeast United Front (NUF) and carries out its activities in collaboration with outfits such as the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA). ULFA-ATF is now reported to have secured some support from China.

KPLT has an estimated strength of 60-70 cadres, and was involved in 15 recorded incidents of violence, including eight incidents of killing, resulting in 15 fatalities, in 2012. Reports also suggest that KPLT has established links with the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and Kanglei Yowel Kanna Lup (KYKL), operating in the neighbouring Manipur State, for training new cadres. Significantly, these two Manipuri outfits are part of the Coordination Committee (CorCom) of seven Imphal Valley-based militant formations. KPLT is also reported to have established links with the NDFB. There are indications that some former United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) militants have also started helping KPLT.

Several smaller outfits continue to operate in certain pockets in the Assam. They include the Liberation Democratic Council of Mising Land (LDCMS), a militant group in Lakhimpur and Jorhat Districts; United Tribal Liberation Front (UTLF), operating in the hills of Jiribam [Imphal East District] and adjoining areas in Assam; the United Tribal Revolutionary Army (UTRA), operating from Manipur and Cachar District of Assam; Dimasa National Liberation Front (DNLF), operating in NC hills and Karbi Anglong District of Assam; Bodoland Royal Tigers Force (BRTF), present in Bodoland area; National Dimasa Protection Army (NDPA), operating in Dima Hasao District; and Gorkha Liberation Army (GLA), operating in Upper Assam and Karbi Anglong District.

Two Muslim militant formations also remain active in the State: Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) and Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen (HuM). MULTA has an estimated 60 cadres while HuM is reported to have 40 cadres. The Central Government has also prepared a list of Muslim fundamentalist groups operating in the State, which includes the Muslim Security Council of Assam (MSCA); United Liberation Militia of Assam (ULMA); Islamic Liberation Army of Assam (ILAA); Muslim Volunteer Force; Muslim Liberation Army (MLA); Muslim Security Force (MSF); Islamic Sevak Sangh (ISS); Islamic United Reformation Protest of India (URPI); Revolutionary Muslim Commandos (RMC); Muslim Tiger Force (MTF); Muslim Liberation Front (MLF); Muslim Liberation Tigers of Assam (MLTA); and Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam (MULFA) .

Meanwhile, Maoist activity in the State also appears to be on a rise. At least seven Districts, especially in the Upper Assam area, have reported significant Maoist mobilisation. The Maoists have been involved in at least 10 incidents this year, as compared to three in 2011 and just one in 2010.  In one of the incidents on May 9, 2012, four CPI-Maoist cadres were killed and one Police commando was injured in an encounter at Deupani Borgura Mising Baskati gaon (Village) in Sadiya Sub-division in Tinsukia District. The slain Maoists were identified as Siddhartha Buragohain, Rajeev Gogoi alias Medang, Arup Chetia alias Iyan and Kamala Gogoi. Siddhartha Buragohain was the 'second-in-command' of the armed wing of the CPI-Maoist in the State.

An unnamed senior Police Official stated, on February 21, 2012, that the Maoists had established three ‘command centres’ in the State – near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh, Assam-Nagaland and Assam-West Bengal borders. He further disclosed that the Maoist had been sending newly recruited cadres from Assam to some central Indian States for training. On March 16, 2012, moreover, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Jitendra Singh, observed that the CPI-Maoist was establishing separate channels in the Northeast, particularly in Nagaland, for procurement of arms and ammunition. CPI-Maoist has raised its armed wing in Assam under the banner of the Revolutionary People's Guerrilla Army, and has developed close ties with insurgent groups such as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of Manipur.

Former Union Home Minister of Home Affairs P. Chidambaram, during his two-day visit to the State in the aftermath of the Bodo-Muslim clashes, on July 30, 2012, had noted: "Assam is perhaps the most complex State administered in the country because people of various ethnicity lives together. People of the country must learn to live together as India is a plural society."

Crucially, for a State facing such grave security issues, the maintenance of law and order is under tremendous strain, and the situation is exacerbated by the lack of sufficient capacities and capabilities in the Police. Admitting the shortage of personnel in the State Police force, State Director General of Police (DGP) Jayanta Narayan Chowdhury disclosed, on November 17, 2012, “The present manpower strength of the Assam Police is very low compared to the population of the State. With the present manpower strength, the State Police is facing immense difficulties in maintaining the law and order. Most of the Police Stations in the State are also facing manpower shortage.” Significantly, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for the year 2011 shows that the number of Policemen per 100,000 population in Assam stands at 173, far below 661 in Tripura – which is now one of the most peaceful States in the entire Northeast. There are 68.9 Policemen per 100 square kilometres of area in Assam, while Tripura has 231.3. The DGP has announcement that 10,000 constables would be recruited in the State Police, in a phased manner, within the next year, but this measure, even if implemented, would result in at best marginal changes on the ground.

Assam’s hard-earned peace remains in constant jeopardy, as issues such as illegal immigration, tribal land alienation, ethnic polarization and the territorial autonomy granted to divergent tribal groups in this multi-ethnic, multi-lingual State, provoke resentment and cycles of violence. Though many militant formations have been brought into peace processes or under ceasefire agreements, the implementation of ground rules remains deeply problematic, with criminal operations and extortion by these ‘peaceful’ groups remaining a chronic problem, even as many of these splinter into renegade organisations that continue with violence. The conflagration in the BTC areas has come as a sharp reminder to state authorities and enforcement agencies that the relative counter-insurgency successes of the recent past provide little grounds for the kind of complacency and neglect that seems to be creeping into the administration. Assam is still located on a very slippery slope, within a wider environment of instability, mis-governance and chronic disorder that afflicts much of the Northeast, and even a momentary loss of attention could prove disastrous.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
November 19-25, 2012



Security Force Personnel









Left-wing Extremism








Total (INDIA)








Khyber Pakhtunkhwa





Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


26/11 convict Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab hanged to death in Pune's Yerawada Prison: Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist from the November 26, 2008 (26/11) terror attack, was hanged to death at the Yerawada Prison in Pune (Maharashtra) at 7.30am on November 21. Union Minister of Home Affairs Sushil kumar Shinde said, "Ajmal Kasab was hanged in Yerawada at 7:30 this morning. Pakistan has been informed but there is no demand for Kasab's body." Kasab was convicted and given capital punishment by the trial court on May 6, 2010, which was upheld by the Bombay High Court on February 21, 2011. The Supreme Court subsequently upheld the sentence on August 29, 2012. Kasab then filed the mercy petition which was rejected by the President Pranab Mukherjee on November 5.

Kasab and nine other Pakistani terrorists had landed in south Mumbai on November 26, 2008, after travelling from Karachi (Pakistan) by sea and had gone on a shooting spree at various landmarks, killing 166 people, including foreigners. Police had succeeded in capturing Kasab alive after killing the remaining nine terrorists. Times of India, November 26, 2012.


CA elections will now be held in the month of Baisakh, says Government: The Government on November 20 said that the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections will now be held in the month of Baisakh (April-May) 2013. A Cabinet meeting had taken the decision to this effect. However, the date of the elections has not been determined yet and will be fixed after consultation with political parties. Nepal News, November 21, 2012.


20 Shias killed in a suicide attack on a Muharram procession in Punjab: At least 20 mourners, including two minors, were killed and more than 30, including three Police personnel and five children, were wounded in a suicide blast at a Muharram procession. The procession was taken out from the Qasar-e-Shabbir Imambargah (Shia place of commemoration) in Dhok Syedan area on Misrial Road in Rawalpindi District in the night of November 21. Only six Police personnel were deployed at the Imambargah to protect the procession, the participants claimed. The News, November 22, 2012.

At least 91 journalists killed since 2000: During a seminar, 'International Journalist Day', organised at the National Press Club (NPC) in Islamabad on November 19 it was said that at least 91 journalists have been murdered across the country since 2000. It was told that Pakistan has become the third most dangerous country for journalists after Somalia and Syria. Dawn, November 20, 2012.

Taliban-linked militants active in 15 areas of Karachi, reveals Police report: A Police report, prepared in compliance of the Supreme Court's directives in a suo moto case on the target killings in Karachi, revealed that Taliban-linked militants have recently stepped up their activities in 15 "identified" areas of the city. "There are certain indications of their [the arrested militants'] involvement with the hardcore Taliban in the tribal areas, be it in the form of fundraising for them or training with those jihadists," it was stated in the report. The News, November 21, 2012.

Supreme Court regrets lack of visible change in the law and order situation in Balochistan: The Supreme Court on November 20 regretted that there had been no visible change in the law and order situation in Balochistan since the court's October 12, 2012, interim order which questioned the constitutional authority of the Provincial Government. "Apparently there is not much difference from the situation prevailing on October 12," observed the Apex Court. Dawn, November 21, 2012.

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

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