Terrorism Update
Show/Hide Search
  Click to Enlarge

Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 13, No. 31, February 2, 2015

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


Click for PrintPrint

Sindh: Permanent Crisis
Ambreen Agha
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

...Violence in Karachi has become so commonplace that reports of ever more gruesome excesses against the citizens are usually taken in the stride...
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), January 9, 2014.

At least 61 Shias were killed and more than 50 others were injured in a bomb attack on Karbala-e-Moalla Imambargah (Shia place of commemoration) in the Lakhidar area of Shikarpur District in the Sindh Province on January 30, 2015. More than 300 worshippers were inside the double-storey compound of the Imambargah and the prayer leader, Maulvi Tanveer Hussain Shah, was delivering the Friday sermon when the bomb exploded. The 'spokesman' of Jundullah, a splinter faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ahmed Marwat, declared, “We claim responsibility for attack on Shias in Shikarpur very happily. Our target was the Shia community… They are our enemies.”

On December 22, 2014, a Police team of District Malir killed 13 al Qaeda and TTP terrorists during a shootout in the Deluxe Town bungalows of the Sohrab Goth area in Gadap Town, Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh. However, TTP ‘commander’ Khan Zaman Mehsud and some of his associates managed to flee under the cover of fire.

According to partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Sindh has already recorded 133 fatalities in 2015, including 99 civilians, nine Security Force (SF) personnel and 25 terrorists in 2015 (data till January 31, 2015) and remains the second worst terrorism-affected region across Pakistan in terms of such fatalities. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) ranks first, with 249 killed, including nine civilians, 15 SF personnel and 225 terrorists.

Sindh, however, has recorded the highest number of civilian fatalities, at 99, over this period, followed by 12 in Punjab, nine each in Balochistan and FATA, and eight in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

According to SATP data, this has been the trend since 2011, with Sindh ranking second worst across Pakistan in terms of overall fatalities (after FATA), while recording the highest number of civilian fatalities in terrorist violence. Terrorist attacks, sectarian and political violence, and gang wars are the three patterns of violence that dominate Sindh.

Sindh recorded 1,180 fatalities, including 734 civilians, 128 SF personnel and 318 terrorists in 2014; adding to 1,668 such fatalities, including 1,285 civilians, 156 SF personnel and 227 terrorists in 2013. There were 1,215 incidents of killing in 2014, and 728 such incidents in 2013. There were 76 major incidents (each involving three or more fatalities) in 2014, resulting in 375 fatalities; in addition to 56 such incidents and 282 resultant fatalities in 2013. Incidents of bomb blasts and resultant fatalities in 2014 stood at 72 and 61, respectively. There were 122 such incidents and 193 resultant fatalities in 2013.

Meanwhile, as in previous years, Karachi remained the worst affected among Sindh's 23 Districts. Of the total of 1,180 fatalities in Sindh through 2014, at least 1,135 fatalities (96.18 per cent) were registered in Karachi alone, followed by 13 in Hyderabad District, 12 in Kashmore, six in Jacobabad, five in Khairpur, four in Sukkur, two each in Jamshoro and Ghotki, and one in Mirpurkhas.

The worsening situation in Karachi has been exacerbated by the presence of a wide range of sectarian-terrorist outfits operating in the city. These prominently include TTP, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Sahaba-Pakistan (SSP), Jundullah, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Sunni Tehreek (ST) and Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), among many others. Unsurprisingly, barring two fatalities in Hyderabad District and one in Mirpurkhas, all 83 killings in 52 sectarian attacks in Sindh Province occurred in Karachi alone.

Significantly, on January 30, 2015, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its World Report 2015 noted that violent attacks on religious minorities rose significantly in 2014, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Government failed to ensure religious freedoms. HRW Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine, in a stinging observation, noted,

Pakistan’s Government did little in 2014 to stop the rising toll of killings and repression by extremist groups that target religious minorities...The Government is failing at the most basic duty of government — to protect the safety of its citizens and enforce rule of law.

Targeted political killings have also been a rising trend in the provincial capital. Activists of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) have been the principal targets, with a total of 391 activists of these parties, including 221 of MQM, 106 of ANP, and 64 of PPP, killed since 2011. 46 of these, including 30 MQM, and eight each of ANP and PPP, were killed in 2014 alone. Moreover, political parties have also drawn the ire of TTP and its splinter groups. On November 21, 2014, at least 23 people, including three MQM Members of Provincial Assembly (MPA) were injured in a blast at a MQM membership camp in Orangi Town, Karachi. TTP-Jama'at-ul-Ahrar (TTP-JuA) 'spokesman' Ehsanullah Ehsan while claiming responsibility for the attack on his Twitter account, declared that the attack on MQM was part of the drive against ANP, MQM, PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and warned, further, that such attacks on these parties would continue.

In another such attack, on November 23, 2014, the District West President of the ANP, Dr. Ziauddin (50), was shot dead while travelling back to his home from the mosque after offering Isha (evening) prayers in Frontier Morr of Orangi Town. TTP-Hakeemullah Mehsud group 'commander' Gilaman Mehsud claimed responsibility for Ziauddin's assassination, and warned, "Since ANP is a secular party, which is aiding the law enforcers in arresting TTP operatives in Karachi, they are attacking its leadership and will continue to do so in future." Ziauddin had earlier been threatened and attacked by TTP. On September 28, 2013, he had escaped a bomb attack outside his residence in Frontier Morr. The attack was the result of non-compliance to an extortion demand of PKR 1 million by TTP. The TTP had, moreover, demanded that he quit ANP, and had warned him of dire consequences if he did not comply.

Turf wars between two prominent criminal gangs, the Uzair Baloch-led People’s Amn Committee (PAC, People's Peace Committee) and the Ghaffar Zikri-led Lyari gang, and their multiple local wings, are another aspect of the endemic violence in Karachi. Despite being banned, these criminal formations continue to operate with the support of their political patrons. The PAC is alleged to be supported by PPP and the Zikri group operates in collusion with MQM.

In the most recent targeted operation against the gangsters, on February 1, 2015, SFs killed five criminals in an encounter in the Salar Goth area of Malir Town in Karachi.  They were identified as Akbar Maliri, Khalid Lashari, Sheraz Ibrahim aka Comrade of Malir, Gulab Hasan aka Peero, and Yousuf Pathan. Akbar Maliri, was stated to be the main character in the gang warfare in parts of Malir and belonged to the Uzair Baloch group. Maliri was also allegedly involved in a grenade attack at a ground near Salar Goth on January 26, 2015, in which a man was killed and another 12 were injured. These gangsters were described as "the symbol of terror in the city" and had been involved in numerous murders and other crimes.

The cumulative impact of these multiple patterns of violence has made Karachi "the most dangerous megacity" in the world, according to a Foreign Policy report. The report cited a murder rate of 12.3 per 100,000 residents, “some 25 per cent higher than any other major city”.

Fearing a spill-over of violence into other parts of the Province, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, had cautioned, on February 24, 2014, “Karachi-like terrorism must not hit other parts of Sindh. Terrorism should not make its way into the interior of Sindh with the intensity witnessed in Karachi.” Significantly, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Kashmore and Khairpur Districts had each witnessed one major incident in 2014. On July 6, 2014, at least three Policemen were killed and two others were injured by unidentified assailants in Latifabad area of Hyderabad city of Hyderabad District. A major incident occurred in Jacobabad District on February 16, 2014, when two coaches of the Peshawar-bound Khushhal Khan Khattak Express derailed after a bomb attack on the tracks near a canal in Thull town of the District. Six people, including four children, were killed and more than 35 were injured. In Kashmore, at least 10 terrorists were killed while some 50 suspects were arrested, when SFs launched an operation in Jani Bheeri village on June 4, 2014. The extremists killed in the operation were involved in the killing of two Rangers near the Bhittai Colony Road in the limits of the Tangwani Police Station in Kandhkot town of the District, on June 3, 2014. In another encounter in Khairpur District, Police shot dead four alleged abductors and safely rescued the hostage, Dr Riaz Bhatti, on December 21, 2014. These attacks indicate the dispersion of the TTP in other parts of Sindh, potentially creating a far greater challenge. In 2013, only two Districts - Hyderabad and Sukkur - had each witnessed one major incident.

In the face of violence and targeted murders, the Federal Government launched a Rangers-led targeted operation against militants and criminals operating in Karachi on September 5, 2013. The operation still continues, but has had little impact on overall security. Assessing the law and order situation in Karachi, a fact-finding mission of HRCP concluded, on July 21, 2014, that the operation launched in September 2013 had failed, and that the “objectives of the operation have not been met”. HRCP Secretary General I.A. Rehman lamented that the operation had been launched on an “ad hoc basis without appropriate planning,” and noted,

Throughout the operation nothing has been done to enhance the capacity of the Police, with the result that the ad hoc measure has essentially become open-ended and indefinite. A working chemistry that should have been there between the Police and Rangers was still missing. The Police were not conducting any operation in Karachi but were merely engaging in proactive policing.

Meanwhile, authorities have been to struggle unsuccessfully to de-weaponize Karachi since 1993. Ironically, on March 30, 2014, in the aftermath of rising incidents of targeted killings of doctors in Karachi, the administration agreed that all doctors would be facilitated to secure weapons' licenses for their personal protection and would be trained in the proper use of weapons. Doctors would also be allowed to carry their weapons without any legal or administrative hindrance. In an article published in The News on February 1, 2015, journalist Syed Arfeen, observed,

The fragile law and order scenario has developed a potential market for illegal arms and ammunition. It is a huge market spanning from (sic) warlords to private militias, militant organisations to groups affiliated to political parties, drug peddlers to land grabbers. Everyone needs a toy to establish its (sic) authority — and the state and the kingpins of illegal weapons provide this pivotal service at their doorstep.

Karachi has been in a state of crisis for decades now. Its increasing fragility has the potential of transforming into a civil war, engulfing the entire Province, and dispersing into the country at large. The latest incident at Shikarpur demonstrates the increasing penetration of TTP and its murderous factions into other Districts of Sindh.

It is, once again, the criminalization of the state in Pakistan, and the unwillingness to abandon Islamist extremism and terrorism as instruments of state policy, that have resulted in the unbridled and self-destructive violence in Sindh. With the consolidation of the power bases of various armed extremist formations in Karachi - and progressively in other areas of Sindh - the situation is bound to deteriorate further.

Click for PrintPrint

Maharashtra: Maoists: Weakening Base
Deepak Kumar Nayak
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On January 22, 2015, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres burnt around 14 vehicles of an Andhra Pradesh-based private company engaged in road construction on the Gharanji-Pustola stretch in Dhanora tehsil (revenue unit) of Gadchiroli District of Maharashtra. The Maoists also roughed up a few labourers during the attack. Eight tractors, two trucks, one road roller, two JCB machines, a pickup van and two motorcycles belonging to the workers were among the vehicles which were set on fire.

On the same day, a senior woman CPI-Maoist ‘deputy commander’, identified as Punai Devsingh Naitam (24) aka Aruna, was arrested by the Gadchiroli District Police from Kangadi village on Gadchiroli-Rajnandgaon border in an intelligence-based operation. Aruna carried a reward of INR 600,000.

After the dramatic consolidation of gains by the Maharashtra Police in 2013 against the Maoists, the State retained the advantage against the ultras in 2014, despite a major setback on May 11, 2014. An operational lapse resulted in seven Security Force (SF) personnel being killed in a landmine blast by Maoists near Murmuri village in Chamorshi tehsil (revenue unit) of Gadchiroli District on May 11. Nevertheless, according to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Maharashtra recorded a total of 30 fatalities – nine civilians, 11 SF personnel and 10 Maoists – in Maoist-related violence in 2014, as against 45 fatalities – 10 civilians, seven SF personnel and 28 Maoists – in 2013. A superficial examination of the data would suggest that the Maoists are staging a recovery in the State, with casualties suffered by the extremists decreasing almost two thirds from 28 to 10, and casualties suffered by the SF personnel increasing from seven to 11. However, a deeper look at the situation points to the waning Maoist strength in the Maharashtra.

The number of civilian fatalities and the number of incidents in which these fatalities occurred in 2014 remain comparable across 2013-2014 [eight incidents and nine fatalities in 2014; eight incidents and 10 fatalities in 2013]. A single incident accounted for seven SF fatalities out of the total 11 through 2014; while Maoists also lost seven cadres in a single incident out of the total of 10 through the year. This suggests that both the SFs and the Maoists are avoiding engagement in general, and focusing on targeted attacks where a position of advantage clearly accrues.

More significantly, Maoist losses have mounted dramatically in terms of quality of arrests and surrenders and fatalities. Among the most important arrests was ‘deputy commander’ Punai Devsingh Naitam aka Aruna. Further, Jethuram Dhurwa aka Raju, 'commander' of Aundhi Local Organisational Squad (LOS), who carried a bounty of INR 1.6 million announced by the Chhattisgarh Government, was arrested by the Gadchiroli Police during an anti-Naxal [Left Wing Extremism (LWE)] operation along the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border on September 15, 2014. Five top CPI-Maoist cadres were arrested during a three-day operation from October 21 to October 23, 2014. They included 'commander' Dunga Yesu Bapu Teka (30), with a reward of INR 1.2 million; 'section commander' Manas Sonare Sainu Tarami (21) with a reward of INR 800,000; local supplier Raju Vishnu Naitam with a reward of INR 200,000; 'commander' Vasant Rejiram Pathiram Wadde (21) with a reward of INR 200,000; and woman Maoist cadre Rupi Suman Gawade (16), alleged to be a local 'committee member', and also carrying a bounty of INR 200,000.

A former CPI-Maoist 'commander', identified as Gopi Niriasai Darbari Madavi, with a bounty of INR 1.2 million on his head, surrendered before the Police in Gadchiroli District on November 11, 2014. Madavi belonged to the Korchi dalam (squad) in Gadchiroli District and was involved in as many as 18 encounters in and around the District.

The total number of arrests and surrenders, however, decreased from 22 and 32, respectively, in 2013, to 12 and 21, respectively, in 2014. However, on a qualitative scale, the result remained good, as a number of leadership cadres were neutralized.  

Two Maoists killed in an encounter on August 12, 2014, in Khobramenda Forest in the Kurkheda Block in Gadchiroli District were identified as Krishna Thakur alias Raju (35) and Sonu Katenge alias Dasrath (25). While Dasrath was a ‘deputy section commander’; Raju, known for his aggressive guerrilla warfare skills, was a former activist of Chandrapur-based Deshbhakti Yuva Manch.

Further, the number of major incidents (each resulting in three or more fatalities) in 2014 was restricted to just two, as compared to seven in 2013. Of the two, in one incident [Chamorshi attack May 11, 2014], SFs suffered seven fatalities; while in the other, on February 18, the Maoists suffered seven fatalities.

Geographically, all fatalities, indeed, all Maoist violence, remained confined to just one District - Gadchiroli, through 2014. In 2013, while most fatalities occurred in Gadchiroli, a single fatality was also reported from Gondia District.

Other patterns of Maoist violence also indicated a decline in 2014. There were a total of nine incidents of exchange-of-fire that took place between the SFs and the Maoists in the State in 2014, as against 12 in 2013, and 22 in 2012. Of these nine incidents in 2014, the Maoists initiated the attack in six, while SFs initiated the attack in three. Further, the Maoists engineered two incidents of landmine blasts in 2014, the same number as the previous year. There was just one incident of arson in 2014 - on April 21, a group of over 50 Maoists set ablaze vehicles deployed for construction work on Dechlipetha-Jimalgatta road near Dechlipetha village in Jimalgatta subdivision of Gadchiroli District - in comparison to four such incidents in 2013 [all in Gadchiroli District].

The diminishing strength of Maoists was further evidenced in the fact that they failed to enforce any bandh (shut down strike) in the State throughout 2014, where as they had imposed four bandh calls in 2013, and six such in 2012. There were no cases of abduction by Maoists in 2014, while one such case was recorded in 2013, and seven in 2012. Gadchiroli experienced a comparatively peaceful Lok Sabha election on April 10, 2014, barring two incidents of firing in which one Policeman was killed and five were injured. Even the State Assembly election conducted in October 2014 had mostly passed peacefully, with Gadchiroli and Gondia recording a 67.3 per cent and 68.27 per cent voter turnout, respectively.

Though violent Maoist activities remained confined to just Gadchiroli District, the arrest of Maoist operatives Arun Bhelke and his wife Kanchan Nanaware, both natives of Chandrapur, by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from a slum in Pune on September 2, 2014, indicated that the Maoists remained hopeful of spreading their network into Maharashtra's cities. The couple changed their location frequently, used different names while interacting with different persons, and developed contacts with youth from backward classes and minorities at 20 locations in Pune, including “Mass Movement”, an organisation mainly comprising Dalit youth from the Kasewadi slums. Police disclosed that Bhelke was trying to indoctrinate these youth in the Maoist ideology. Further, cracking down on the Maoists' urban network, investigating agencies probing Delhi University Assistant Professor G.N. Saibaba, who was arrested by Maharashtra Police on May 9, 2014, for alleged CPI-Maoist links, reportedly extracted some e-mails and information from his computer that suggest he had recruited at least one more student from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), described as "Goswami" in Saibaba's correspondence, as a "professional revolutionary" to work in Chhattisgarh. Saibaba’s bail plea was rejected by the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, though the Court granted bail to former journalist and Human Rights activist Prashant Rahi, a co-accused in the same case.

The Maharashtra Government's new Naxal (LWE) surrender policy (cleared by the Cabinet on August 20, 2014) improves on the model surrender policy suggested by the Union Government. The policy substantially augmented financial benefits and the rehabilitation package offered to surrendered Maoists, with two to three fold increases across board. The central leadership would now receive INR 1.6 million to 2 million on surrender, while fringe supporters at the village level, such as members of the gram raksha dal (GRD), are being offered INR 150,000.

To boost the morale of the SFs in fighting against the Maoists, the Maharashtra Government decided to give promotions to Policemen doing outstanding work in CPI-Maoist affected Gadchiroli, Bhandara, Gondia and Chandrapur Districts.

According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, Maharashtra’s Police-population ratio, at 170 per 100,000 [as on December 31, 2013], is significantly higher than the national average of 141. This, however, is still substantially lower than the 220/100,000 ratio regarded as desirable for 'peacetime policing'. With the additional challenge of the Maoist insurgency, the Maharashtra Police requires significantly greater numbers, as well as a substantially larger allocation of other resources. Despite limitations, however, the Police had done a remarkable job in its campaign against Maoists, and had developed an excellent intelligence network to mount narrowly targeted operations.

Meanwhile, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel deployed in Maharashtra are being replaced with Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) units earlier deployed in the Bastar area of Chhattisgarh. The CRPF personnel relieved from Maharashtra would be moved to Bastar. This is being done to ensure better coordination between forces across State borders and maintain a single command chain in any given area in the Maoist-affected zones. ITBP personnel were already present in Rajnandgaon District in Chhattisgarh, which is contiguous to Gadchiroli District, while Bastar will have contiguous areas under CRPF.

In an effort to improve communication for better coordination among the SFs, a senior Police officer posted in Gadchiroli disclosed, on November 16, 2014, 37 mobile towers are to be installed in Gadchiroli, 17 in Gondia and six in Chandrapur District, by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL), over the succeeding 12 months. This initiative was approved by the Union Cabinet on August 20, 2014, under a scheme for the extension of mobile telephonic services to 2,199 locations affected by LWE in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Further, the State Government has decided to allocate INR 640 million to four LWE-affected Districts in the Vidarbha region to fast-track their development. Under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to develop tribal and backward Districts in LWE-hit areas, the Centre will provide a total of INR 1,200 million for 2014-15, to be distributed equally among the four Districts of the backward Vidarbha region. In addition, a report on January 13, 2015, suggested that the State Government intended to give a big push to infrastructure development in Naxalite affected Districts and would also provide additional benefits to civil contractors and employees working there. The State Government has lined up INR 39.42 billion worth of projects in the LWE affected areas to improve connectivity.

A successful anti-Maoist campaign mounted by the Maharashtra Police has considerably weakened the rebels in the State. A lot of this success is ascribed to targeted intelligence-based operations. This intelligence network, however, is at risk of being compromised, with reports of shabby treatment of informers trickling in. An alleged Police informer, Vijay Prakash Gupta alias Pappu Gupta, claimed that he was used by the Police, but had subsequently been abandoned to fight threats from the Maoists on his own. The Police have strongly refuted his allegations, though the May 11, 2014, Murmuri IED attack is being seen as a “big failure” of Police intelligence.

The Maoists have, in the past, demonstrated tremendous capacities of resilience and resurgence. The state's successes in Maharashtra cannot give cause for any complacency on the part of intelligence and enforcement agencies, particularly as the Maoists retain significant operational capabilities in contiguous areas across State boundaries.

Click for PrintPrint

Tripura: Fight to the Finish
Giriraj Bhattacharjee
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

Tripura, the location of one of India's most virulent insurgencies, has now evolved into one of the most peaceful states in India’s troubled Northeastern region. The state registered no terrorism-related fatalities through 2013, but the record was tarnished by four such fatalities in 2014, according to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). In the process, the trend of continuous decline in such fatalities recorded since 2004 (with the exception of 2012) was reversed. In 2012, Tripura had recorded two fatalities (both militants) as against one (civilian) in 2011.

Significantly, at its peak in 2004, militancy in Tripura had claimed as many as 514 lives, including 453 civilians, 45 militants and 16 Security Force (SF) personnel.

According to SATP data, the four fatalities in 2014, in three incidents of killing, included two civilians and two SF personnel. A civilian driver, Himari Rangtor, and a Border Security Force (BSF) trooper, Adil Abbas, were killed when suspected cadres of the Biswamohan faction of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT-BM) ambushed a BSF vehicle at Pusparam Para in North Tripura District on November 17, 2014. Suspected NLFT–BM militants also killed a BSF trooper, Biswas Kumar, in an ambush at Malda Para in Dhalai District on October 23, 2014. Earlier, on June 12, 2014, the body of a surrendered NLFT militant, identified as Samindra Debbarma, was recovered from Vidyabill area in Khowai District. Prior to these two killings, the last civilian fatality had taken place on January 31, 2011, when NLFT militants killed the in-charge of Shewapara border fencing site of National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), identified as C.N. Muni, and injured his driver, at a remote tribal hamlet in North Tripura District near the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Though no militant was killed through 2014, the State witnessed the killing of SF personnel after a long hiatus. The last SF fatality before the two 2014 killings was recorded on August 6, 2010, when two BSF troopers were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast carried out by NLFT-BM militants in Ratia under the Chawmanu Police Station of Dhalai District. Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Border Security Force (BSF, Tripura Frontier), B.N. Sharma, stated on November 28, 2014, “After two ambushes on BSF troops, the operational strategy has been changed. We have decided to send jawans in strong numbers to foil their attempt.”

NLFT-BM was responsible for three killings in 2014, while the killing of the surrendered NLFT militant remained unattributed. No confirmed activity by the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) was reported in the State through 2014.

In a worrying development, however, the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), on September 12, 2014, announced that its party members would go to New Delhi to meet Union Home Minister (UHM) Rajnath Singh and Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, to press for its demand for a separate State to be carved out of Tripura. Though no further information about this announcement is available, Chief Minister (CM) Manik Sarkar on December 29, 2014, stated, "Nothing will be allowed to revive this dead phenomenon. Tripura simply does not need a separate State, as the TTAADC [Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council], based on the Sixth Schedule and spread over 68.10 per cent of the State's territory, is a vibrant institution taking good care of the socio-economic and political interests of the indigenous communities." The tribal areas of the State are presently governed by TTAADC under Schedule VI of the Constitution. The formation of a separate Telangana State, which was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in South India on June 2, 2014, has revived a slew of similar demands across the Northeast.

Further, as Chief Minister Sarkar observed, on January 3, 2015, "The insurgency has not been uprooted yet, despite all out efforts. Militants are still on the operational mode in some interior places of the State. Police has to be more proactive along with the Central Paramilitary Force BSF, which is deployed in the border, has to be more alert and active. If Tripura Police, TSR [Tripura State Rifles] and BSF jointly with the public support, go for counter insurgency … then militancy can be totally wiped out."

The State Government, on November 29, 2014, decided to extend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) - 1958 for another six months. AFSPA was first enforced in Tripura in 1997, when terrorism was at its peak. In view of the improvement in the situation and the lessening of terrorist activities, the Tripura Government had, in June 2013, reviewed its application and reduced the operational areas of the Act to 30 Police Station areas, from the earlier 40.

However, Director General of Police (DGP) K. Nagaraj, on January 4, 2015, asserted that insurgency had been largely contained in the State, and that only eight militant-related incidents had been registered during 2014, as compared to nine such incidents in 2013. The number of abduction cases registered had reduced to eight in 2014, against ten in 2013, and only one abducted person was still in militant captivity. According to the SATP data, however, 10 persons were abducted in six such incidents in 2014, as against three such incidents in which seven persons were abducted in the preceding year. In addition, SFs in the State arrested four militants [all NLFT-BM cadres] in three incidents in 2014, adding to thirteen such arrests in 2013. In one such incident on December 4, 2014, BSF troopers, arrested NLFT-BM ‘commander’ Amarjeet Debbarma (35), from the Raisyabari market in the Gandacherra Sub-division in Dhalai District.

31 militants [18 of NLFT-BM, 10 of the Bru National Army (BNA), and three of the Bru Democratic Front of Mizoram (BDFM)] surrendered during 2014, as against 14 surrenders in 2013. In one major incident of surrender, 10 BNA militants surrendered to Assam Rifles (AR) personnel at Kanchanpur Sub-division in the North Tripura District, on May 7, 2014. The surrendered militants included the 'second in command' of BNA, Singhrak aka Simanjoy, and 'third in command' Chunsa Rai. Meanwhile, on September 4, 2014, the Tripura Government decided to withdraw court cases against surrendered militants, except those of crimes committed against women. An unnamed official of the Tripura Home Department disclosed, “Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said the State Government has decided to withdraw court cases against the former militants to lure underground terrorists to lay down arms and join mainstream of life."  

Meanwhile, neighboring Bangladesh continued its support to India’s fight against terror groups operating in Tripura in particular and the Northeast region in general. Significantly, on November 29, 2014, SFs in Bangladesh killed eight NLFT-BM militants in the Naraicherra area near Segun Bangan of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). The operation had been launched following intelligence inputs provided by Indian agencies. Similarly, Bangladesh SFs launched an operation between November 24 and 28, 2014, destroying several NLFT-BM hideouts in the Khagrachhari District of Bangladesh, forcing 36 NLFT-BM cadres to flee to the nearby Bandarban District (Bangladesh). This operation also led to the arrest of NLFT-BM ‘commander’ Kwaplai Debbarma alias Karna (33) from the house of a former ATTF ‘commander’ Jewel Debbarma, in the Char Mile area of Khagrachhari District in Bangladesh. Earlier, a March 16, 2014, report had indicated that NLFT-BM was facing its worst-ever crisis, with lower cadres strongly advocating a truce with the Indian Government. Reports also suggest that NLFT-BM militants staying in the Bangladeshi camps were highly dissatisfied with misappropriation of funds by senior ‘commanders’, a growing resource crunch, food crises and the wide gap between the lifestyles of the leadership and the cadres.

Significantly, two of the major outfits – NLFT-BM and ATTF - still operating in Tripura are reported to have at least 32 camps in Bangladesh. BSF Inspector General (Tripura Frontier) B. N. Sharma, on November 28, 2014, disclosed that, of these hideouts, NLFT-BM accounted for 21 camps.

NLFT-BM suffered a split in early December 2014, with ‘commander’ Prabhat Jamatya (39) leaving the group's camp in CHT with more than 25 followers and a large cache of arms and ammunition. The NLFT-Prabhat faction (NLFT-P) is reportedly headquartered in the sprawling house of a retired Bangladeshi Policeman in Rajghat under the Chunarughat Sub-district of Habiganj District in Bangladesh. These militants have also started sending "tax notices" to Tripura residents from across the border.

Police led operations in the State have forced both the principal militant formations, NLFT-BM and ATTF, to restrict their operations, working from CHT in Bangladesh. Though the Bangladesh Government is providing enormous support, the unfenced areas along the Indo-Bangladesh border continue to facilitate the easy movement of militants into the State. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on August 13, 2014, told the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) that, out of the 848-kilometers of the Tripura-Bangladesh Border, 782.46-kms have been fenced while 65.54-kms of border remain to be fenced. Moreover, as Tripura Governor Padmanava Balkrishna Acharya, expressing dissatisfaction with the fencing work along Indo-Bangladesh border on October 14, 2014, observed, “The fence can be easily cut and breached any time. The quality of work does not justify the huge spending incurred in erecting it.”

Tripura has secured extraordinary success through its model of a Police-led counter-insurgency campaign against what was once a raging militancy. This success was secured by establishing a remarkable police presence, with 636 Policemen per 100,000 population and 225.2 Policemen per 100 square kilometers, and by dramatic improvements in training, equipment and leadership. The residual problems that persist demand an acute operational focus in the border areas. Effective border fencing, the operationalization all 64 Border out Posts, greater area domination, and joint patrolling with Bangladeshi Forces can help mop up the straggling remnants of the insurgency.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
January 25-February 1, 2015



Security Force Personnel













Jammu and Kashmir


Left-wing Extremism






Total (INDIA)













Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Take whatever steps necessary to stop the ongoing violence in the country, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed on January 28 ordered the Police to take whatever steps necessary to stop the ongoing violence in the country. She said, "I'll take the responsibility for whatever happens due to the action. But you'll have to ensure the security of the common people. You'll take whatever steps necessary against those responsible for burning and attacking people."Daily Star, January 29, 2015.


Four persons including Army officer killed in encounter with militants in Jammu and Kashmir: Four persons, including a Commanding Officer (CO) of the Army, a Head Constable (HC) of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police and two militants were killed in an encounter with militants in the Tral area of Pulwama District on January 27. The slain militants belonged to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). Daily Excelsior, January 28, 2015.


107 militants killed during the week in FATA: At least seven militants were killed and one other was injured in a US drone strike in the Shawal area of North Waziristan Agency (NWA) in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on January 28.

At least 53 militants, including 12 foreigners, were killed when jet fighters of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) conducted aerial strike on militants' hideout in the Kharh Tangi area of Dattakhel tehsil (revenue unit) in NWA on January 27.

In another strike in the same area later, 23 militants were killed.

16 militants were killed and 12 others injured when PAF planes pounded their hideouts in Therkho Kas, Wacha Wana, Sra Vella and Nakai areas of Tirah valley in Khyber Agency.

Eight suspected militants, including key 'commanders' of various outfits, were killed and several others sustained injuries when jet fighters of PAF blitzed their positions in various areas including Speen Drand, Tor Darra, Tarkhu Kas in Kukikhel, Nakai and other areas in Tirah Valley on January 26. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, January 27-February 2, 2015.

69 civilians and 18 militants among 88 persons killed during the week in Sindh: Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, on February 1 claimed to have killed five gangsters in an encounter in the Salar Goth area of Malir Town in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh.

Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Sindh Police on February 1 claimed to have killed four Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in a shootout in the Manghopir area of Gadap Town and recovered weapons and explosive material from their possession.

At least 61 Shias were killed and 50 others were injured in a bomb explosion at Karbala Maula Imambargah (Shia place of commemoration) in the Lakhi Dar area of Shikarpur District on January 30.

Senior Superintended of Police (SSP) Malir Rao Anwar Ahmed on January 28 claimed to have killed five militants in Nawab Goth area within the limits of Steel Town Police Station in Bin Qasim Town of Karachi.. Daily Times; Dawn; The News; Tribune; Central Asia Online; The Nation; The Frontier Post; Pakistan Today; Pakistan Observer, January 27-February 2, 2015.

Minorities vulnerable to attacks, HRW says in its World Report 2015: Pakistan's Government should ensure the security of the country's religious minorities from judicial injustice and attacks by militants, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in its World Report 2015. The HRW said violent attacks on religious minorities rose significantly in 2014 as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Government failed to ensure religious freedoms. "Pakistan's Government did little in 2014 to stop the rising toll of killings and repression by extremist groups that target religious minorities," said Phelim Kine, Deputy Asia Director at HRW. Tribune, January 31, 2015.

More journalists killed in Pakistan than any other democracy, says CPJ Asia Coordinator Bob Dietz: Asia Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Bob Dietz, on January 27 said that Pakistan ranks worryingly high when it comes to the number of attacks on journalists in democratic countries. He deplored that the authorities in Pakistan had failed to move forward in this regard and had not been able to provide an environment conducive for journalists so far. Dawn, January 28, 2015.

'Getting funds through United States to run the organisation in Pakistan', reveals Islamic State local operative Yousuf al-Salafi: The local 'commander' of Islamic State, Yousuf al-Salafi, confessed during investigations that he has been receiving funds through the United States (US). Law Enforcing Agencies had claimed on January 22, 2015, that they arrested al-Salafi, along with his two companions, during a joint raid in Lahore District. However, sources revealed that al-Salafi was arrested sometimes in December 2014 and it was only disclosed on January 22, 2015. Dawn, January 28, 2015.

Army won't abandon FATA till return of functional normalcy, says COAS General Raheel Sharif: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on January 27 reiterated that Pakistan Army would not abandon Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) without restoring functional normalcy. Speaking to officers and men during his visit to Mohmand Agency, the COAS appreciated their professionalism, dedication and sacrifices in fighting terrorism and bringing 'stability' in Mohmand Agency. Daily Times, January 28, 2015.

Special force to guard schools: A special force will be formed to guard educational institutes in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the rest of the country, an unnamed senior official of the Home Department said. "We have 64,000 educational institutions and the total number of policemen is just 75, 000. If we deploy a single member of the force at every institution, Police Stations will be empty," the official added, stressing on the need for an additional force to guard schools. In the wake of the Army Public School (APS) massacre on December 16, 2014, in Peshawar, the Provincial and Federal Governments sat down to chalk out a comprehensive security plan for schools and colleges. Tribune, January 29, 2015.

'US to kill or nab Mullah Fazlullah', Senate Standing Committee on Defence informed: The Senate Standing Committee on Defence was informed on January 26 that the US had assured Pakistan of killing the top Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Mullah Fazlullah or arresting him alive. The Defence Secretary Lieutenant General (retd) Alam Khattak told the Senate committee that the US has assured Pakistan of full cooperation to arrest or kill Mullah Fazlullah. The News, January 27, 2015.


Plan to use army personnel to whip up LTTE bogey during parliamentary elections in April, says Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne: Spokesman of the Sri Lankan Cabinet, Rajitha Senaratne, on January 28 has said that he has sought an inquiry into information that former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa is using two serving army officers to train 400 soldiers to whip up a bogey about an Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) revival in the run up to the parliamentary elections in April. Senaratne said that this army unit is being trained by two serving officers, Brigadier Harendra Ranasinghe and Colonel Mahinda Ranasinghe of the Army Training School. Colombo Page, January 31, 2015.

Government terminates mandatory military leadership training in education sector: The Sri Lankan Government has decided to terminate a mandatory military style leadership training program initiated by the previous Government for school principals and university entrants. Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said the Government is ending the program that was compulsory for the students entering the country's universities under the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration. Colombo Page, January 24, 2015.

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.