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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 12, No. 44, May 5, 2014

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


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Assam: Recurring Bloodbath
Veronica Khangchian
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management

…..the corrupt politics of vote banks and crass electoral calculi, to the manifest detriment of the national interest, must be defeated. India's diversity can only be held together by the unity of law and of justice, not by the unprincipled horse-trading that governs politics today.

In what it is feared to be a recurrence of July-September 2012 riots between the Bodos and the Muslims, 32 people have so far been killed in the violence reportedly unleashed by the I.K. Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-IKS) in the Bodoland Territorial Administration Districts (BTAD) governed by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam, in the aftermath of the Lok Sabha [Lower House of Parliament] elections held in the area on April 24, 2014. Union Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) Sushilkumar Shinde stated, on April 4, "During the last few days, there have been wanton acts of depredation leading to the deaths of 32 persons, mainly women and children. Out of these 32 persons, 31 belonged to minority community… It is noteworthy that these acts (of violence in Kokrajhar and Baksa regions of Assam) started only after the group started steadily losing its cadres either by surrender or elimination during operations when they opened fire on the forces." Without naming the "group", the NDFB-IKS, Shinde added that the MHA had already deployed 43 companies of Central Forces and was in the process of sending an additional 1,000 personnel. Further, he disclosed, 1,500 soldiers of the Army had been positioned in the violence-hit areas. "These numbers are not fixed and can be increased as per requirement," he said. NDFB-IKS has, meanwhile, denied its involvement claiming it was “a political conspiracy by the Assam Government to trigger clashes between two communities.”

Violence started when heavily armed NDFB-IKS militants entered a house and shot dead three members of a family, including two women, and injured an infant of a minority community near Ananda Bazar area in Baksa District on May 1. The incident was followed by indiscriminate firing by the insurgents at Balapara-I village in neighbouring Kokrajhar District in the early hours of May 2, which left eight persons dead and several others injured in their own homes. Again, in the night of May 2, 12 bullet-riddled bodies, including those of five women and a child, were recovered from Nankekhadrabari and Nayanguri villages in Baksa District, where nearly 100 houses and a wooden bridge had been set ablaze by the militants. Another nine bodies were recovered from a village in Baksa District in the morning of May 3, taking the toll to 32. The bodies of the victims, including four children and two women, were recovered from Khagrabari village, under Salbari sub-division adjacent to the Manas National Park. 

The attack at Balapara village also came at a time when most adult males had been staying away from their homes for fear of the Police, who were looking for the killers of a constable at a polling booth during the election on April 24. A Policeman was killed while another was injured when a mob tried to capture a polling booth in Kokrajhar Parliamentary seat, leading BSF personnel to open fire on April 24.

Besides Chirang and parts of Dhubri Districts, indefinite curfew has also been imposed in Kokrajhar and Baksa Districts. The Army has been staging flag marches in the violence-hit areas to instill confidence among people and to bring the situation under control. "Shoot at sight order has also been issued in violence–hit areas". Media reports indicated that since the attacks on migrant Muslims started on May 1, at least 50,000 people have fled their villages in the state’s Kokrajhar and Baska districts.

Investigators disclosed that around 20 suspects had been arrested on May 3, reportedly for helping the militants in the violence-hit districts of Baksa and Kokrajhar. The victims of the attacks were Muslim migrants who have been locked, for years, in land disputes with the Bodo tribes. Muslim villagers were reportedly targeted as a punishment for not voting for candidates backed by the rebels.

Meanwhile, people fear a repeat of the large-scale conflagrations of 2012, involving Bodos and Muslims which left at least 109 dead according to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) database and over 400,000 displaced. 2012 was the second such clash involving Bodos and Muslims since the formation of the BTC in 2003. The first confrontation had occurred in 2008, and claimed 55 lives.

The factors which provoked the May 2014 attacks appear varied and controversial.

The leader of the Pro-Talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA-PTF), former commander of undivided ULFA’s 709 battalion, and Independent candidate for the Kokrajhar parliamentary constituency, Naba Kumar Sarania alias Hira Sarania, who was backed by the Sanmila Janagosthiya Aikya Mancha (SJAM, an umbrella organisation of most of the non-Bodo organisations of the BTAD areas), suspected the involvement of the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) in the ongoing violence. Addressing the press in Kokrajhar city on May 2, Sarania, added, further, “The Government said it had information that such clashes might occur. If it did have prior information, why didn’t the Government take any steps to prevent the violence. There is definitely some involvement of the Government in this ongoing violence.” The former ULFA leader appealed to the Government to take steps to end the mindless violence and threatened to launch an economic blockade in the State if it failed to do so. He declared, “If the violence and killings do not stop by May 5, we will launch an economic blockade in all the entry gates of Lower Assam like Boxirhat Gate, Srirampur Gate, etc.”

The All Bodoland Minority Students' Union (ABMSU) and the All Koch Rajbongshi Students' Union (AKRSU, Hiteshwar Barman faction), two leading students' bodies in BTAD, supported the candidature of Sarania. These groups feel that Sarania, a non-Bodo candidate, could raise his voice in Parliament for the 73 per cent non-Bodo population living in BTAD. Lafiqul Islam Ahmed, General Secretary, ABMSU, noted, "We are supporting Hira Sarania, because he is committed to work for the non-Bodo communities which are not feeling secure in BTAD. ABMSU wants the Centre not to create a separate Bodoland State including the BTAD areas where a major chunk of population is non-Bodos. We also want the Government to review the Bodo Accord under which Bodos were given priority over the non-Bodos in BTAD. Hira has come in support of our demands and we believe he has the voice to raise the issues of the non-Bodo communities under Kokrajhar seat." Ahmed claimed that the minority people were being tagged as illegal Bangladeshi migrants and were being harassed in BTAD areas: "Our people who were born and brought up in Assam should be protected like any other Indian citizen. Minority people, who were victims of violent clashes in BTAD two years back, are yet to be adequately compensated by the Government. We want our MP [Member of Parliament] to raise his voice for the people of BTAD." Ahmed added that, despite comprising 73 per cent of the population, the non-Bodo communities had been politically deprived in the BTAD areas, as it was mostly Bodos who were contesting the majority of the seats, as most of these were reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities.

Though the police claimed that the incidents were not related to the Lok Sabha elections, unofficial sources in Kokrajhar asserted that the villagers may have been targeted because they had apparently not voted in favour of a particular party and its candidate. Further, certain statements underline the relation between the attacks and the just concluded election. A BPF leader thus declared, "Everything was fine till April 23. We were assured that we would get about 80 per cent Muslim votes in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Kokrajhar on April 24. But all Muslim votes went in favour of Naba Kumar Sarania alias Hira Sarania." 

Media reports further indicated that the tipping point came with a comment by Kokrajhar (East) Member of Legislative Assembly Pramila Rani Brahma, sister of the BTC Chairman Hagrama Mohilary. Rani Brahma observed that the BPF candidate, Chandan Brahma, would have a tough time winning because non-Bodos had consolidated behind Sarania, heightening the tension between Bodo and non-Bodo groups. SJAM spokesperson Jamsher Ali alleged, “On April 30, BPF leader Pramila Rani Brahma commented that a particular community hadn’t voted for the BPF candidate in the Lok Sabha polls and a day after the killings started. Therefore, we want an inquiry to find out whether there is any connection between Brahma’s comments and the killings.” He said the killings followed a BPF meeting, to analyse voting in the Kokrajhar constituency in the General Elections. He added, “The killings might have been carried out by militants but we suspect that some forces had instigated them.”

On April 21, 2014, the President of the All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) had criticized the 'divisive politics' of Independent candidate Hira Sarania, arguing that Hira was playing narrow politics with Bodo and non–Bodo votes, and this was not good for the integrity of the people of the region. ABSU President Promod Boro declared that ULFA leader Hira Sarania had created an atmosphere of hatred among the Bodos and non–Bodos.

On April 20, while alleging that the ULFA-PTF group has asked all its members not to vote for Hira Sarania, SJAM General Secretary Matiur Rahman asserted, “They (Arabinda Rajkhowa of ULFA-PTF and others) never raised their voice when non-Bodos and other ethnic groups suffered during violence in the BTAD region. Now their decree only hints that the outfit's leaders are in nexus with the BPF led by Hagrama Mohilary. Sarania was fielded by the people and we believe he is going to win by a huge margin." On April 17, ULFA-PTF disowned Sarania and appealed to the voters in Kokrajhar constituency not to vote for him as he had ‘made mockery’ of the 'extreme sacrifices' made by hundreds of ULFA martyrs who laid down their lives for the ‘national struggle’, by participating in the Indian Parliamentary elections against the principles and ideology of the ULFA.

The long-unresolved issue of illegal immigrants surfaced again, when an NDFB-IKS leader, on May 3, was quoted as stating, "The Bodo people will not stand for usurpation of their land by illegal immigrants while the Government remains unconcerned." Media reports further implied that the targets this time were alleged illegal Bangladeshis and also Nepalese immigrants, whose numbers, according to Bodo leaders, have been rising exponentially.

The Security Forces (SFs), meanwhile, insist that the violence carried out by the outfit is in retaliation to operations against the outfit. Noting the involvement of the NDFB-IKS group in the killings, the Assam Police, on May 2, asserted that the Bodo rebel group was frustrated and, as a result, had chosen a “soft target”. Talking to reporters after attending a series of high level security meetings at Dispur, State Director General of Police (DGP) Khagen Sarma observed, “Stern action will be taken against NDFB-IKS group... In the last few months, 18 important cadres of NDFB-IKS outfit were killed in encounters with security forces and also 42 important cadres of the outfit surrendered before security forces... To show its strength, the outfit had earlier tried to attack security forces and Ranjan Daimary faction of NDFB (NDFB-RD), but failed in its attempt and became frustrated. To make its presence felt, they carried out the attack on civilians yesterday.”

Some incidents are significant in this context: on February 20, 2014, a 'deputy commander' (southern command) of the NDFB-IKS identified as B. Thaijou alias Kamaram Brahma was killed in an encounter with SFs in the Makrijhora-Malatijhora area of Parbhatjora subdivision in Kokrajhar District. The militant had a bounty of INR 300,000 on his head. Again, on March 31, an 'area commander' of NDFB-IKS, identified as Medra Boro, was killed while another three cadres fled with injuries, following an exchange of fire between the Police and the group at Kamargaon under Sorbhog Police Station in Barpeta District.

The May 2014 attacks came a few hours after the NDFB-IKS issued a statement warning of “tit-for-tat retaliation” against the State and Union Governments for killing its cadres in a “fake encounter” with “Assam police and CRPF, using Ranjan Daimary’s cadres” at Jingia Tinkhuti village in Sonitpur District. This referred to the April 30, 2014, incident, where three suspected cadres of NDFB-IKS, identified as Rajai Mushahary, Custom Boro and Adlish Basumatary were killed in an encounter with the Police in the Naojan Tinkhuti area. The NDFB-IKS cadres had been involved in the killing of Lalit Boro, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker, at Tinkhuti, on April 7, during the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls. Inspector-General of Police (BTAD) L.R. Bisnoi observed that the militant group had targeted civilians to avenge the killing of three militants of the outfit on April 30. The NDFB-IKS had earlier warned the State and Union Government against the 'systematic killing' of its members and also cautioned the founding-Chairman of the NDFB, Ranjan Daimary, against engaging in fratricidal killings.

On May 2, 2014, the Centre asserted that NDFB-IKS leaders in Myanmar were trying to provoke communal tension in BTAD to divert attention from operations against them, but promised to continue operations against the NDFB-IKS. Joint Secretary (Northeast) in the Union Home Ministry, Shambhu Singh, thus noted, “We are told Songbijit has been sending messages from Myanmar to whip up communal tension in Bodoland to divert attention from operations against them... The Government of Myanmar has been informed about his presence but they have said they do not allow any anti-India activity from their soil.”

Intelligence sources disclosed that the Union Home Ministry had alerted the Assam Police and other security agencies about the possibility of attacks by Bodo militants a few days earlier: "The Home Ministry gave specific inputs about the Songbijit faction's plans to target the minorities from Thursday evening (May 1)."

The NDFB-IKS is the only faction of the NDFB that has refused to sit for talks with the Government and has emerged as the most lethal outfit in the State. In 2014 alone, prior to the latest attacks in May, it had already killed 12 civilians and one SF trooper. 11 militants of the outfit have also been killed during the year. The NDFB-IKS' split was announced on November 20, 2012, by the then NDFB-RD’s Myanmar based, ‘army chief’ I.K. Songbijit, who, vowed to “work and fight together with vigour and determination to liberate Boroland” and “Western South East Asia (North-East India)”. Meanwhile, on November 29, 2013, the Central and Assam State Governments had signed a six months long tripartite Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with NDFB-RD, at the Headquarters of the Special Branch (SB) of Assam Police at Kahilipara.

A March 17, 2014, report observed that, according to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) the NDFB had killed at least 70 people in Assam through 2010-14. In January 2014, State Police Headquarters declared 15 members of the NDFB-IKS, including its chief Songbijit Ingti Kathar on November 29, 2013, 'most wanted'. Assam Police said valuable information leading to the arrest of these 15 NDFB-IKS militants would be worth INR 9.5 million.

In the most recent incident by the outfit prior to the May 2014 attacks, two persons were shot dead by suspected NDFB-IKS cadres in pre-poll violence in Kokrajhar District on April 23, a day before the Lok Sabha polls. Heavily armed militants attacked them at Bhogjhra village and shot them at point-blank range. Earlier, on January 17, 2014, at least six persons were killed when suspected NDFB-IKS militants pulled down about a dozen persons from a bus and opened fire at them at Serfanguri in Kokrajhar District. An Assam Police official said the bus was on its way from Siliguri in West Bengal to Shillong in Meghalaya, when a group of armed militants intercepted it on National Highway-31 at Athiabari under Serfanguri Police Station.

In a typical response, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had condemned the May attacks as a "cowardly act", and Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde promised to send 10 additional companies of Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMFs) sought by the State Government. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also condemned the attacks as "cowardly attempts to spread fear and terror among our citizens" and added that the Centre would take all measures to maintain law and order and restore peace. Assam Chief Minister Gogoi demanded an National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the attacks, and this has been approved. An NIA team will reach Assam on May 5 investigate the attacks. None of these high officials has, however, chosen to speak of the failure, not only to act proactively on the prior intelligence that was available, but also the comprehensive failure to act on commitments made over the years to resolve the issue that were contributing to unending cycles of violence.

During the 2012 violence between the Bodos and Muslims, for instance, Chief Minister Gogoi had declared that the State Government was 'on a mission' to throw out every single illegal migrant from the State, and appealed to people to help the Government in detecting them. The Bodos had then termed the 2012 incident as a clash with illegal migrants and not Indian Muslims. On February 3, 2014, the Central Government told the Supreme Court that it has agreed to allocate INR 2.88 billion to the Assam government for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the State, to be completed within three years, and confirmed that INR 250 million had already been released to the State Government for preliminary work. The actual outcome, however, remains to be seen, as the NRC project has been languishing in the State since 2005, despite repeated assurances and allocations. Moreover, even as the non Bodos opposed the creation of BTC, this measure has, at the same time, failed to help the Bodos. As a result, BPF leaders who had signed a Memorandum of Settlement in 2003, have revived their original demand for statehood.

Unless the tribal and illegal migrants’ issues are genuinely addressed, tensions, especially between ethnic Bodo people and Muslim settlers - and, indeed, indigenous populations and illegal migrants across Assam - which have simmered for years, will continue to escalate into bloody confrontations again and again.

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The Industrious Extremist
Ambreen Agha
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

“As many as 180,000 mujahideen, followers of Baitullah Mehsud, are hiding in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan and fighting against anti-Muslim forces for the supremacy of Islam. Their food expenditure is PKR 2,900,000 (USD 30,000) daily. You are requested to bear two days’ expenses of mujahideen-e-Islam or be ready to face dire consequences.”
- Letter from the TTP to a lawyer in Islamabad, June 2013

In recent years the crime of extortion has spiralled and spread to all the Provinces of Pakistan, making the country a leading centre of this 'industry'. Karachi, the country's commercial capital and most prominent centre of the extortion racket, continues to be the worst hit, followed by the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in Punjab, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province. Though the scale of violence varies widely across each Province, the targets remain the same, including the business community, politicians, doctors and, more recently, private school owners.

According to partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), there were at least 92 recorded incidents of extortion in Pakistan through 2013, of which 15 violent incidents claimed 29 lives. In 2014, Pakistan has already recorded at least 54 incidents of extortion, including 10 violent incidents that have claimed at least 10 lives (data till May 4, 2014). These figures likely represent the tip of the iceberg since an overwhelming majority of incidents of extortion go unreported due to fear and a general consensus that there is little the Police can or will do.

Karachi, according to SATP data, recorded the maximum number of extortion related activities. Of the 92 incidents recorded in 2013, 87 occurred in Karachi alone. Punjab had three, followed by KP two. No incident was recorded in Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). A more disturbing picture of Karachi emerges from disclosures by Ahmed Chinoy, the Chief of the Citizen-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), a body set up to help the Police by providing crime statistics and technical support, who noted, on July 2, 2013, “The extortion racket has blown out of all proportion with the previous years.” According to the figures collected by the CPLC, 630 extortion complaints were registered in Karachi from January to mid-June 2013, compared to 589 in the whole of 2012. The CPLC has provided no subsequent data.

A heavily publicised ‘operation’ against criminals in Karachi, commencing September 5, 2013, has yielded no significant results so far. The current year has already recorded 50 incidents of extortion in Karachi alone, and media reports suggest that the problem, already endemic, is growing, demonstrating the redundancy of the much hyped ‘operation’. There has been no respite for the targeted communities in the mega city that has an estimated population of 13 million. Incidentally, on April 15, 2014, Member of National Assembly (MNA) and President of Awami National Party (ANP) Sindh Chapter Shahi Syed walked out of Parliament, protesting the poor law and order situation in Karachi. He informed the Senate that, despite the continued military operation, there had been no decrease in extortion, killing and kidnapping in the crime infested metropolis.

Medical practitioners and traders have been a vulnerable target of the pervasive and organised system of bhatta wasuli (collection of extortion). Expressing concern for the beleaguered medical fraternity, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) called on Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Shahid Kamran Baloch on April 2, 2014, and remarked, “Every fifth doctor is receiving threatening calls for money.” Earlier on February 13, 2014, the President of PMA's Karachi Chapter, Dr. Idrees Adhi, claimed that at least 40 medical practitioners of Karachi have received threatening emails from certain extortion mafias demanding large sums of 'protection money'. These calls, he said, were traced to South Africa, Afghanistan and Dubai, indicating the international dimensions of these operations. Adhi lamented, “Our community is under immense pressure. We are frightened because of threats against the backdrop of the killing of some of our colleagues in the recent past.” He disclosed that at least 130 doctors had been killed in the city since 2010.

Meanwhile, the business community and traders have also been the victims of grenade and rocket attacks that damage their property and make them live in constant fear. Back in 2012, the All Pakistan Organization of Small Traders and Cottage Industries (APOSTCI) declared on August 5 that the recent trend of grenade attacks on shops and markets that refused to comply with extortion demands had terrorised local traders and businessmen, totally destroying the prospects of further investment in Karachi.

Borrowing their tactics from terrorist outfits, the extortionists have also targeted schools in the District. In one such attack on October 22, 2013, two people, including a student, were injured when extortionists opened fire outside Prince School, a private secondary school in the Gulshan-e-Bahar area of Orangi Town, for allegedly failing to heed extortion demands. This incident was soon followed by another, on October 28, when some unidentified extortionists opened fire at the Al Mehran School located in the Ghaziabad area of Orangi. Reacting to these incidents, William Sadiq, a leader of the Karachi-based Action Committee for Human Rights observed, "Targeting innocent schoolchildren, doctors and patients reflects the brutality of the terrorists."

While security agencies continue to fail to control the menace, the extortionists continue to devise new strategies. On April 14, 2014, Atiq Mir, the President of the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad complained that a new modus operandi had been adopted for extortion in Karachi, where the extortionists demand hundreds of thousands of rupees from businessmen in the name of welfare funds and social work. In case of refusal, the extortionists threatened their target of dire consequences, revealing their original identity and their affiliations with notorious criminal gangs and terrorist groups.

Extortionists often impersonate terrorists to intimidate victims. In one such instance in November 2013, a businessman in Islamabad received a letter on the letter head of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and signed by its already-dead leader Hakimullah Mehsud, demanding USD 50,000, and threatening 'dire consequences' if he reported the matter to the Police or failed to pay. The terrified man paid up, but refused to register a complaint or divulge any further details. A senior intelligence official remarked, "Posing as member of the Pakistani Taliban is the easiest thing because the victims then get the impression that they are dealing with a very mighty thing. So they don't report the case with the Police and are very ready to cooperate with the criminals."

In Punjab, similarly, the racket thrives, particularly in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, primarily due to the intrinsic network between criminal gangs, their political patrons, terrorist formations, and affiliated seminaries and local mosques. Reports indicate that seminaries in Punjab act as intermediaries and couriers to receive and deliver extortion sums to terrorist formations. Civil and military intelligence sources have confirmed that Punjab’s extortion racket provides revenues to terrorist outfits based in the tribal area via local seminaries. Significantly, on May 1, 2014, intelligence sources disclosed that seminaries operating inside the capital were assisting TTP with the collection of extortion and ransom money by arranging deals between terrorists and their victims. The sources further disclosed that extortion calls received in Punjab were traced back to Miranshah town of the North Waziristan Agency in FATA. Citing one such incident, the Intelligence sources stated that, in 2013, a retired Army Doctor, Lieutenant General Mehmood-ul-Hasan, received a call from a man who introduced himself as Latif, second-in-command to Hakimullah Mehsud, and demanded PKR 50 million. Following the demand, an administrator from an Islamabad-based seminary acted as mediator and finalised the 'deal' at PKR 10 million, and also sent two persons to collect the money from the target. A month later, a man named Ashfaq called Dr. Hasan again and demanded an amount of PKR 50 million within 10 days. This incident, according to sources, was followed by another call from someone who identified himself as a leader of the TTP and asked Dr. Hasan to ensure that the money was delivered within 72 hours. In all the three instances “the same man who brokered the first agreement was used to negotiate the price,” officials disclosed, confirming the role of seminaries in collecting extortion money from the targets and delivering it to the TTP.

The business community in Punjab also faces the brunt of factionalism among the terrorist formations. On May 3, 2014, officials in the Islamabad Police disclosed that the recent regrouping within the TTP into factions led by Shehryar Mehsud and by Khan Said alias Sajna had created trouble for businessmen in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, because businessmen who had first paid extortion sums to the TTP received renewed demands after a few days. The second set of calls often came through middlemen. The differences between the two factions emerged over the assumption of leadership after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud.

Extortion now funds a range of criminal and terrorist outfits, prominently including the Pakistan Amn Committee (PAC, Pakistan Peace Committee) in Karachi; and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), TTP and innumerable other local gangs that have been formed for the specific task of extortion in their given areas to fill the coffers of terrorist groups in the tribal areas. On June 29, 2013, Superintendent of Police (SP) - Investigation, Mustansar Feroz disclosed that the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) of Islamabad Police had arrested three TTP terrorists , identified as Malik Aalam Khan Wazir, resident of North Waziristan Agency in FATA, the ringleader; Mohammad Tahir Yousafzai, resident of Malakand District of KP; and Mukammal Shah Qasimkhail, resident of Upper Dir District (KP), on their arrival in Islamabad for extortion. All three had been embroiled in extorting huge sums from industrialists, business tycoons and lawyers of the twin-cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad and KP. The three member gang is accused of operating from the Sakha Kot area of Swabi District in KP.

The situation in KP is also precarious as the extortionists threaten businessmen and school administrators. Identifying the problem as a law and order issue, officials briefing the KP Provincial Assembly on March 4, 2014, pointed out that there are 39 terrorist outfits operating in the Province, while 20 other gangs functioning under the garb of TTP were involved in extortion, kidnapping-for-ransom and other criminal activities. On August 4, 2013, terrorists fired a rocket at the house of Atta Muhammad, a private school owner, in Shabqadar tehsil (revenue unit) of Charsadda District for the third time, as he refused to pay an extortion amount of PKR 15 million. Muhammad had been receiving threats and he also lodged a complaint with the Police, but in vain. Instead, Police told him, “We are already short on resources; we cannot give security to every individual.” An angry Muhammad said, “Either the Police arrest the culprits or else I will buy weapons for self-defence.”

Lack of Police action worsened the situation in KP, Punjab and Karachi. Often, criminal gangs and terrorist outfits operate in collusion with the Police and politicians. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Rabta Committee Deputy Convenor, Doctor Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, on February 10, 2014, alleged, “Karachi Police collects 22 crore (220 million) extortion money daily and it is the biggest organisation that is involved in extortion in the city today.”

Neither can the role of political patrons be ignored. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in its October 2012 report, ‘Conflict dynamics in Karachi’, remarked, “The armed wings of major political parties, including the MQM, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and ANP, are the main perpetrators of urban violence. The parties clash over city resources and funds generated through extortion.” This holds true for all of Pakistan's Provinces.

Pakistan's covert policy of supporting and sponsoring criminal and terrorist formations as instruments of state policy has led terrorists and criminals to consolidate their presence in all areas of commercial activities. Extortion - the menace of Karachi - has, gradually, spread to other parts of the country. While increasingly sophisticated and techno-savvy peripatetic groups of extortionists gain control across expanding regions in Pakistan, the Law Enforcement Agencies lack both capacity and will to act against them. Police laxity, political collusion and failure of the Federal and Provincial Governments to respond effectively to the challenge is pushing the endemic disorders of Pakistan to the edge of anarchy.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
April 28-May 4, 2014



Security Force Personnel





Islamist Terrorism








Tamil Nadu


Left-wing Extremism








Total (INDIA)











Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


32 civilians killed by NDFB-IKS militants in Assam: At least 32 civilians were killed by militants of the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-IKS) during the week in Kokrajhar and Baksa regions of Assam. "During the last few days, there have been wanton acts of depredation leading to the deaths of 32 persons, mainly women and children. Out of these 32 persons, 31 belonged to minority community. The objective of this group seems to be aimed at starting a full fledged communal conflagration," said Union Minister of Home Affairs Sushil Kumar Shinde on April 4. Times of India, May 5, 2014.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader forms new terror outfit for India operations: Inputs gathered by Central Agencies say a leader of Pak-based terror outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Zameer Khan, has formed a new outfit- Ansar-ul-Uma - for conducting operations in India. A secret document of the intelligence agencies claims that the new outfit located in Bagh District in Pakistan was formed three days ago and 80-100 terrorists had already joined it. Times of India, May 3, 2014.

30 cells of SIMI active in India, says report: More than 30 sleeper cells of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have become active across the country. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) warned all states, including Maharashtra, about the development. Sources said top SIMI and Indian Mujahideen (IM) militants jailed in various parts of India have been brought to Delhi to extract any information available with them. DNA India, April 29, 2014.

ISI wants to set up wide network in South India: The interrogation of suspected Colombo-based Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agent Mohammed Zahir Hussain has brought out that he has been making attempts to establish a widespread network to carry out activities, including circulation of fake Indian currency notes (FICNs), in South India. Earlier on May 1, based on information provided by Hussain, Police arrested two of his associates - Siva Balan, also a Sri Lankan, and Mohammed Salim of Chennai. Times of India, May 2, 2014.

CPI-ML-Naxalbari merges with CPI-Maoist, says report: The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and Communist Party of India-Maoist-Leninist Naxalbari (CPI-ML-Naxalbari) have merged and the new party will retain the name of CPI-Maoist. In a joint statement on April 30, CPI-Maoist 'general secretary' Muppalla Laxman Rao alias Ganapathy and 'secretary' of CPI-ML-Naxalbari Ajith said the unified party would take Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as its guiding ideology. The Hindu, May 1, 2014.


UCPN-M convention to form broad alliance: Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda floated a proposal to form a broad alliance comprising representations from the like-minded parties to ensure a democratic and timely constitution in the country. Prachanda said the party is heading toward socialism making use of capitalism. Senor leader Baburam Bhattarai said the past leadership and the modus operandi of the party do not work in the present context, calling for change. Republica, May 2, 2014.


TTP provides list of 765 'non-combatant' prisoners: The member of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) negotiating committee Yousuf Shah on May 4 said the TTP has given a list of 765 'non-combatant' prisoners they want to be released. He said dialogue was the only solution to the problem. He urged both TTP and the Government to reconsider a ceasefire. Daily Times, May 5, 2014.

Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network continued to find 'safe haven' in Pakistan in 2013, claims Report: Groups such as the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban continued to find 'safe haven' in Pakistani territory in 2013, the US State Department claimed in its Annual Global Report on Terrorism that it submitted to the Congress on April 30. It accused Pakistani authorities of not taking "significant military or law enforcement action against these groups." The report further claimed that a number of aggressive and coordinated attacks in Afghanistan were planned and launched from 'safe havens' in Pakistan. Tribune, May 1, 2014.

Fearing military operation TTP militants shifting to Afghan border areas, claim unnamed TTP sources: According to unnamed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) sources, many TTP militants, fearing that a military offensive will finally be launched, have vacated the areas surrounding Mir Ali and Miranshah towns of North Waziristan Agency (NWA) in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). They have shifted towards the border with Afghanistan and into the Afghan Provinces where anti-Pakistan elements are strong. Daily Times April 29, 2014.

Seminaries operating in Islamabad assist TTP in collecting ransom and extortion money, reveal intelligence sources: According to sources in civil and military intelligence agencies, seminaries operating inside Islamabad are reportedly assisting Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with the collection of extortion and ransom money by arranging deals between militants and their victims. The sources also revealed that the seminaries are providing courier services to the TTP by arranging for the money to be transported to pre-determined locations easily accessible for TTP militants. Dawn, May 1, 2014.

Grouping within TTP a bane for businessmen, say Police sources: According to officials in the Police, the recent grouping within the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may help the Government and Security Forces (SFs) to deal with the militants but it has created more trouble for businessmen in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The sources said that the businessmen had paid extortions to the TTP but a few days later they again received calls for payment of more money. The second calls, they added, came even though middlemen of the militants had given assurances that the businessmen would not be threatened. Dawn, May 3, 2014.

Kashmir is the 'jugular vein' of Pakistan, says CoAS General Raheel Sharif: Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Raheel Sharif on May 1 said that Kashmir is the "jugular vein" of Pakistan and the issue should be resolved in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris and in line with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions for lasting peace in the region. He said, "Matchless sacrifices offered by Kashmiris will not go in vain," adding that the resolution of the Kashmir issue is "indispensable" for lasting peace in the region. India Today, May 2, 2014.


NPC passes several resolutions demanding withdrawal on 16 overseas Tamil groups ban: Northern Provincial Council (NPC) on April 28 passed several resolutions demanding that the ban of 16 overseas Tamil groups be withdrawn forthwith. The resolutions, moved by member M.K. Sivajilingam, were adopted unanimously. NPC Chairman C.V.K. Sivagnanam told that the resolutions also called for a political solution to the national question. Daily Mirror, April 29, 2014.

Almost all of UN agencies praise Sri Lanka's achievements on all fronts since the war victory, says President Mahinda Rajapaksa: President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 1 said that almost all of the United Nations (UN) agencies praise Sri Lanka's achievements on all fronts since the war victory. He added that the changes brought about in Sri Lanka since the launching of the Mahinda Chintana (Mahinda Vision) Policy framework some nine years ago and following the eradication of separatist terrorism from the soil of Sri Lanka were clearly visible to anybody and could be experienced by anyone. Daily Mirror, May 2, 2014.

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.

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