INDIA: Maoists: Sabotaging the Future,Swat: Dubious Victories :: South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR),Vol. No. 9.17
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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 9, No. 17, November 1, 2010

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Maoists: Sabotaging the Future
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

Two students, aged 10 and 11 years, a woman employee and a villager were killed when a grenade landed in the classroom of a tribal school on the outskirts of Savargaon village on the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border on October 8, 2010. Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres lobbed the grenade into the school during the course of an encounter with Security Forces (SFs) close to the school building. Three SF personnel were also killed in the fighting.

Again, on October 28, one Police Constable was injured when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded while it was being defused near the Jordi School building under Madanpur Police Station in the Aurangabad District of Bihar. The bomb disposal squad had been called in after four bombs, planted by the Maoists, were found in the school. The remaining three other bombs were defused.

These are far from isolated incidents. According to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report, nearly 300 schools were reportedly blown up by Maoists between 2006 and 2009. According to the Police, the Maoists have destroyed over 150 schools in Bihar, and 20 in Aurangabad District alone. An affidavit filed by the Chhattisgarh State Government in the Apex Court on April 14, 2008, had noted: "They (Naxals) destroyed 55 primary school buildings in the last three years." H.R. Gourela, Deputy Commissioner of the Scheduled Tribe Welfare and Development Department of Narayanpur District in Chhattisgarh on October 19, 2009, had stated, "Under Narayanpur District, around 77 concrete buildings [schools] were either damaged or demolished. We are continuing schools in alternative buildings made of tin-sheds."

On November 7, 2009, Chhattisgarh Education Department officials claimed that the Maoists, over the preceding two years, had set ablaze 80 school buildings in just the Dantewada and Bijapur Districts. A November 6, 2009, had noted that the Maoists had blown up more than 30 school buildings in Jharkhand over the preceding five years.

Partial data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management documents at least 109 school buildings destroyed by the Maoists since 2006. Of these, three incidents were reported in 2006; 22 in 2007; seven in 2008; and 59 in 2009. The Maoists have, thus far, blown up 18 schools in the year 2010 (till October 31). The largest number of these incidents was recorded in Jharkhand, at 45 schools blown up over these years; followed by Chhattisgarh, at 26; Bihar, at 22; Orissa at 15; and one in Maharashtra.

These attacks were principally carried out with IEDs known locally as 'can bombs' – metal cans packed with explosives. Reports indicate that the Maoists primarily used gelignite, dynamite, potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate and emulsion explosives in their attacks on the schools.

More worryingly, at least 24 teachers have been killed by the Maoists in 34 attacks on teachers during this period. Three students and two school employees were also killed in three separate attacks.

Attacking schools and educational properties is an integral element of Maoist strategy, at once destroying what is the central structure in most villages, creating widespread fear, demonstrating Maoist capacities and the infirmity of the state’s agencies, and, crucially, expanding the rebels’ recruitment pool of frustrated and idle youngsters. Human Rights Watch, in its December 9, 2009, report quoted a Government official as stating, "If they want to attack any Government infrastructure then a school building is very handy, because they are all over now... This is one place were the Government gives no resistance. If you attack a Police station, you will get resistance. But in a remote area a building with no security is very easy [to target]."

The Maoists, however, claim that they attack schools because these have become ‘police camps’. A CPI-Maoist Information Bulletin editorial in November 2008 thus claimed: "No school was destroyed by the Maoists if it was not used by the Police as its camp. You cannot show a single instance where we had destroyed a school that was really meant for education purpose." Most attacks on schools have occurred in the night, to avoid innocent fatalities; nevertheless, a large proportion of Maoist attacks have destroyed schools in which there was no Police or Security Forces (SF) presence.

Worse, teacher absenteeism on the plea of Maoist violence has enormously compounded the direct disruption of the educational infrastructure with devastating consequences for the lives and prospects of thousands of school children. A December 20, 2009, report, for instance, said that hundreds of poor school children in Bihar’s Aurangabad District had appealed to CPI-Maoist cadres not to target or damage educational institutions. In an open letter to the Maoists, the school children urged the rebels not to deprive them of education by destroying their schools.

Meanwhile, the Government has taken some steps to undercut the Maoist justification for their attacks on the educational infrastructure. A May 22, 2010, report noted that the Jharkhand Police had vacated 28 of 43 schools previously occupied by SFs in Maoist-affected Districts of the State, and were in the process of vacating another 13. The Chhattisgarh Government, however, in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on October 27, 2010, conceded that, due to administrative exigencies and lack of infrastructure, it was housing SF personnel involved in anti-Maoist operations in 31 schools, ashrams (residential schools) and hostels. The Government, nevertheless, claimed that it had made alternate arrangements to ensure that the presence of troopers in these premises did not affect the education of children

The Maoists also extort money meant for school education and infrastructure. According to a July 23, 2009, report, the Maoists in Jharkhand were demanding money from schools from the grants received by them from the Government. In Latehar, they demanded INR 50,000 as ‘levy' from a school and threatened dire consequences in case they were not paid the demanded amount. The school had been granted INR 6.3 million for construction and development of the school.

There are also allegations regarding the Maoists looting foodstuff meant for students of several State-run schools and hostels for tribal boys and girls located in remote areas. An August 29, 2009, report indicates that the Orissa Government asked Collectors of all the Maoist insurgency-affected Districts to verify such allegations. Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste Development Department Secretary Ashok Tripathy disclosed, "Letters have been sent to all the collectors to verify allegations that Maoists forcibly eat food meant for school children living in hostels."

A February 2010 UNHCR Report titled Education Under Attack 2010 – India, gives a snapshot of the sheer range and virulence of disruptive Maoist actions against the education system:

Over the whole of 2009 at least 50 schools were attacked in Jharkhand and Bihar. Maoists torched the house of a parateacher in Chowka, Jharkhand, and beat him up. In April 2009, a boy in Mandar, Jharkhand, was reported to have been tortured for refusing to join the Naxalites' children's brigade. In Bihar, four schools were blown up and a generator was seized from one of them. In Chhattisgarh State, a 15-year-old student was shot three times and stabbed by Maoist guerrillas in front of his teacher and classmates after finishing an examination in March 2009.

These circumstances have been exploited for significant recruitment of child soldiers by the Maoists. The UNHCR Report thus notes that, in 2008,

In Chhattisgarh, Maoists were reported to have used children under 12 "in droves". Children, aged 6 and above, were indoctrinated and trained as informers; then, from age 12, were recruited into the ranks and trained to use arms and explosives.

The report, however, also observes that, "Government-backed Salwa Judum vigilantes have used children to attack Naxalite-influenced villages, and state police have used child recruits for anti-Naxalite combing operations..."

The United Nations report on Children and Armed Conflict – 2010, moreover, expressed concern over the recruitment and use of minors by the Maoists in some Districts of Chhattisgarh, noting that there were credible reports that youngsters were being abducted and forcibly recruited from schools. The Report notes:

India’s National Human Rights Commission… stated in its submission to the Supreme Court in August 2008 that the Naxals forced many families to send at least one adolescent boy or girl to join their ranks. Other credible reports indicate that many children are abducted or forcibly recruited from schools. The Naxals have claimed that children were used only as messengers and informers, but have admitted that children were provided with training to use non-lethal and lethal weapons, including landmines.

Significantly, the West Bengal Police on August 6, 2010, intercepted seven van-loads of school children at Dahijuri who were on their way to Jhargram town to participate in a rally organised by the Maoists. The students from the Ranarani School at Andharia alleged that some unidentified persons forced them to attend the rally and had also arranged for the vehicles.

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the Government has announced a ‘multi-pronged strategy’ that includes setting up of secondary schools, girl’s hostels and reconstruction of buildings damaged by extremists, to improve educational facilities in 35 Districts worst affected by Maoist activities. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has accorded ‘top priority’ to these districts under new schemes such as the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (National Secondary Education Campaign, RMSA), Model Schools and the Girls' Hostel Programme. Under RMSA, which aims at universalising secondary education in the country by 2020, as many as 384 schools have been approved for these affected Districts in 2009-10. Similarly, under the Model Schools Programme, 32 schools, out of a total of 327 sanctioned in 2009-10, are located in these Districts. Another 21 model schools are to be set up in seven Maoist-affected districts of Chhattisgarh. 44 girls' hostels have also been sanctioned for these 35 Districts. The Government categorised these as Special Focus Districts under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Universal Education Campaign) and has allocated additional funds for the creation of new primary schools, maintenance of existing infrastructure and providing other facilities. The expenditure on construction activities under these programmes can account for up to 50 per cent of the total funds allocated under the SSA in these Districts.

Unfortunately, unless the security situation improves dramatically, additional allocations and schemes will have little – if any – impact on the grounds and would, indeed, tend to augment the pool of extractable resources for Maoist extortion. The Maoists have established their disruptive dominance across vast areas, and these have been transformed into an amorphous frontline of conflict in which the education, the prospects and the lives of children are routinely placed at risk.

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Swat: Dubious Victories
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

On June 14, 2009, the Pakistan Army made the absurd claim that its operations had rendered the Swat Valley free of militants. Between June 14, 2009, and October 31, 2010, however, according to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), 1,041 persons were killed in the Valley, including 907 militants, 105 civilians and 29 Security Forces’ (SF) personnel, in a least 159 incidents. In the wider Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP, formerly known as the North West Frontier Province) province within which Swat is located, fatalities over this period totalled at least 2,985, including 1,778 militants, 962 civilians and 245 SF personnel, in 2349 incidents [these may be significant under-estimates, as information flows from regions of conflict in Pakistan are erratic and unreliable).

Some of the major incidents during this period include:

October 24, 2010: Five militants were killed in an encounter with the Security Forces (SFs) in the Chaparyal and Kharerai areas of Matta tehsil (revenue unit) in the Swat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

October 9, 2010: Five militants belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) Swat chapter were killed in a clash with SFs at Totano Bandai in Swat District. The SFs recovered a cache of weapons. Sources said that the slain militants had entered Swat from the Dir District.

July 15, 2010: Five persons were killed in a suicide attack near a busy bus stand in Mingora, the headquarter of Swat District.

May 30, 2010: Swat Scouts killed 22 TTP militants in a six-hour battle in Mulla Khel, Rangi Kandu, Mir Garh, Drai Choti and Sumpag areas. The SFs also destroyed 12 terrorist hideouts in these areas.

May 1, 2010: Seven persons, including three TTP militants, were killed and 16 people, including seven SFs, were injured in a suicide blast and a retaliatory clash between SFs and TTP at a commercial plaza in Mingora city.

March 13 2010: At least 17 persons, including two Policemen and an Army trooper, were killed in a suicide attack at a checkpoint manned by Police and military personnel at Mingora town.

February 22, 2010: 13 persons, including three SF personnel and four women, were killed and 41 others injured when a suicide bomber hit a SFs convoy at the Nishat Chowk of Mingora.

December 3, 2009: SFs killed 13 militants during raids at two locations in the Swat.

November 15, 2009: 12 militants were killed in clashes with the SFs in Karakar and Shamozai Gharai while 14 bodies were found dumped in Charbagh's Gulibagh area in the Swat Valley.

November 14, 2009: Troops killed 13 TTP militants in two separate clashes in Swat.

November 6, 2009: Eight militants were killed and four were arrested during search operations in the Swat District.

A total of 21 suicide attacks were recorded in KP, of which three occurred in Swat.

The Swat Valley, with an area of 5,337 square kilometres and population of 1,257,602, is an Administrative District in the KP Province of Pakistan, located 160 kilometres from the national capital, Islamabad. It is the upper valley of the Swat River, which rises in the Hindu Kush range. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Valley is Mingora. It was a princely State in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, until it was dissolved in 1969. The rough terrain and thick forests of Swat provide extensive safe havens for Islamist extremist terrorists.

The fighting in Swat is the first serious insurgent threat from pro-TTP forces in what are described as ‘settled areas’ of Pakistan. TTP militants established effective control of the Swat Valley in 2007. By the end of October, 2007, fighting erupted in the District, with a large TTP force, under the command of Maulana Fazlullah (who was subsequently killed on May 26, 2010), trying to impose Sharia law in the area. Around 3,000 paramilitary soldiers were sent to confront the TTP rebels and, after almost a week of heavy fighting, the battle came to a standstill with both sides suffering heavy casualties. Then, on November 1 and November 3, 220 paramilitary soldiers and Policemen surrendered or deserted after a military position on a hill-top and two Police Stations were overrun. This left the TTP in control of most of Swat.

Forces loyal to Maulana Fazlullah, including some foreign fighters, after taking control of a series of small towns and villages, began to impose their version of ‘strict Islamic law’ in November 2007. In mid-November the Army was deployed in strength, backed by helicopter gunships, to crush the uprising. By the beginning of December, the Army declared victory, claiming to have reclaimed Swat, having killed 400 pro-TTP militants and lost just 15 Pakistani soldiers and 20 civilians. Despite this ‘success’, TTP militants quickly re-entered Swat over the coming months and once again began engaging the SFs in battles that lasted throughout 2008.

On April 26, 2009, the Pakistani Army started Operation Black Thunderstorm, with the aim of retaking Buner, Lower Dir, Swat and Shangla Districts in KP from the TTP. The Operation ‘cleared’ the Lower Dir District of militants by April 28 and Buner by May 5. On May 5, operations were commenced to retake Swat and later on Shangla. On May 23, the battle for Mingora started and by May 27, the Army claimed that 70 per cent of the city had been ‘cleared’ of militants. On May 30, the Army declared that the city of Mingora had been ‘taken back’ from the TTP in what was described as a ‘significant victory’. Sporadic fighting, nevertheless, continued on the city's outskirts.

In all, according to the military, 128 soldiers and more than 1,475 militants were killed and 317 soldiers were wounded during this phase of operations. 95 soldiers and Policemen were captured by the militants, of whom 18 were rescued, while the fate of the others remained unknown. 114 militants were arrested, including some local commanders. At least 23 of the militants killed were foreigners. Sporadic fighting throughout Swat continued up until mid-June. On June 14, the Operation was declared over, with the Army claiming it had ‘regained control’ of the region. Small pockets of TTP resistance, nevertheless, remained, and the military continued with ‘mopping up’ operations. On October 8, 2009, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Major General Ashfaq Nadeem declared that peace had been restored to "95 per cent areas" of the District. He insisted, moreover, that a majority of the militants had either been killed or arrested, or had surrendered, during the Army offensive. Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain went a step further to rule out the possibility of the TTP reorganising in Swat, claiming that the SFs had ‘dismantled their networks’ in the Valley. "The militants cannot dare reorganise. Their network has been smashed," the Minister said. Hussain, however, justified the Operations, recalling that the Government had "accepted all demands of the terrorists" but still they continued killing innocent people of Swat. "We had no other option than to opt for military operations when the terrorists were least concerned about civilians' lives," he added.

The Army’s claims notwithstanding, Swat Police Chief Qazi Ghulam Farooq conceded on May 1, 2010, "Practically, it is impossible to make the Valley 100 percent secure. You have mountains, and forests that are very green and thick during this part of the year and give you the best camouflage." However, he claimed that, "The best thing is the residents, the villagers want us to fight the militants. They let us know if they find them anywhere." Media reports, nevertheless, indicate that people in Swat have expressed strong reservations over the role of the SFs and Police in the Valley. Locals complained that, during the 2009 operations, local peace committee members had supported the SFs but, in retaliation, they had been targeted by the militants, and the SFs failed to provide security.

As terrorist activity escalates in Swat, the Army and Police, on October 11, started a two-day joint operation against the militants in the Matta tehsil of Swat, as well as neighbouring Mardan, the Ghuando, Shamozai and Shikray Baba areas of Katlang tehsil, Sawaldher, Bakhshali and Guli Bagh, after the killing of a renowned religious scholar and Swat Islamic University Vice Chancellor, Muhammad Farooq. At least 10 TTP militants and one soldier were killed in the Operation in different parts of Mardan District. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that 800 ‘suspected terrorists’ were arrested in the Operation.

This action, however, is also little more than an eyewash. The revival of the TTP in Swat and adjacent Districts is a growing embarrassment for the Army, and underscores the continuing difficulties that Pakistan faces in establishing Government authority over areas where the military has claimed comprehensive victories over the Islamist terrorists.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 25-31, 2010



Security Force Personnel





Left-wing Extremism






Jammu and Kashmir




Left-wing Extremism








Total (INDIA)








Khyber Pakhtunkhwa



Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Government fears Chhittisinghpora-type attack during US President Barack Obama's visit, says Union Home Secretary G. K. Pillai: The Government apprehends that Pakistan-based terror groups may try to replicate Chhittisinghpora-type attack on civilians and put the blame for such an incident on the Indian Army to attract global attention to Kashmir in run-up to US President Barack Obama's visit to India (November 6-8). The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists in Indian Army fatigues, led by the outfit's ‘commander’ Yusuf Muzammil Muzammil, had killed 35 Sikhs in March 2000. The Hindu, October 29, 2010.

ISI even has a 'Nepal set-up', reveals LeT operative David Coleman Headley: The Pakistani American Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley revealed to the National Investigation Agency in June 2010 about the existence of the ‘Nepal set-up' of Pakistani spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) which has its network in India, to aid ISI as and when needed. Times of India, October 27, 2010.

First coastal surveillance network station to be set up in Tarapore in Maharashtra: India’s first station for the Coastal Surveillance Network, proposed in the wake of the 26/11 attacks, would be inaugurated at Tarapore in Maharashtra in 2010, Defence Minister A. K. Antony said on October 25. Times of India, October 26, 2010.

Salwa Judum does not exist, says Chhattisgarh Government: The Chhattisgarh Government in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on October 28 said that the Salwa Judum (anti-Maoist vigilante movement) does not exist in the State and therefore the question of disbanding it does not arise. The Hindu, October 29, 2010.


Caretaker PM Madhav Kumar Nepal accuses UCPN-M of preparing for revolt: The caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on October 28 claimed that the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) are preparing for what they often call 'people's revolt’.

Meanwhile, the UCPN-M chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda on October 29 rejected an invitation for a Constitutional Council meeting to be held on October 31. Nepal News, October 29-30, 2010.


66 militants and nine civilian among 81 persons killed during the week in FATA: At least six militants were killed and another two injured when US drone fired two missiles on a militant’s compound in the Haider Khel village of Mir Ali in the North Waziristan Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on October 31. In addition, three elders of the Masozai tribe were killed and two others abducted when militants attacked them in Zharaly area of Kurram Agency. Also, three militants were killed and two others injured when Security Forces (SFs) targeted their hideouts in Mandal area of Salarzai tehsil (revenue unit) of Bajaur Agency.

Five militants were killed and seven others injured when helicopter gunships targeted their hideouts in Mandal area of Salarzai on October 30.

At least 12 militants were killed and six others injured when helicopter gunships of Pakistan Army attacked militant hideouts in Khadizai, Shahu Wam, Kasha and Saifal Dara areas of Orakzai Agency on October 29.

On October 28, at least 12 militants and a security official were killed and 13 others, including five troopers, were injured in attacks on SFs and air strikes by gunship helicopters in Orakzai Agency. Five militants and a volunteer of the local peace committee were killed and 14 others injured in an encounter between SFs and militants in the Ambar tehsil of Mohmand Agency. In addition, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants beheaded three "common criminals", allegedly masquerading as TTP while stealing and kidnapping for ransom, in the Yaka Ghaound area of Mohmand Agency.

Eight suspected militants were killed in two separate US drone attacks in Datta Khel tehsil of North Waziristan Agency on October 27.

Six militants and a soldier were killed in an encounter in Orakzai Agency while five more militants were killed when SFs shelled their positions in Kareer area of Safi tehsil in Mohmand Agency on October 26.

Three TTP militants were killed and two others were injured as their car hit a landmine in Taanda village in Orakzai Agency on October 25. Dawn; Daily Times; The News, October 25-31, 2010.

TTP threatens to move into Afghanistan to launch an "unending war" against the Pakistani troops from there: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on October 25 threatened to move into Afghanistan and launch an "unending war" against the Pakistani troops from there. A pamphlet purportedly distributed by the "Mujahideen Shura of North Waziristan" in the market in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan Agency, said the TTP asked Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to provide them shelter if an operation is launched in the region. Indian Express, October 26, 2010.

Four foreigners may attack Tablighi scholars in Punjab, reveals intelligence report: An intelligence report on October 28 revealed that four foreigners have been given the task to assassinate two prominent religious leaders of Tablighi Jama'at in Raiwind, a town in the Punjab Province of Pakistan. Official sources said that particulars of the four foreigners had been sent to the Federal Investigation Agency to start surveillance at the international airports of the country to arrest them. The News, October 29, 2010.

Drone attacks are a part of war on terrorism, says US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Phelps Munter: The newly-appointed United States (US) ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Phelps Munter, on October 29 termed the drone attacks as part of the war on terror and to be targeting the militants. Daily Times, October 30, 2010.

Federal Investigation Agency holds TTP responsible for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder: The Federal Investigation Agency which has completed its probe into the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on October 25 held the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) responsible for her death in a gun-and-bomb attack. The investigation report has accused slain TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud of masterminding Bhutto's murder. Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007 after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi. Dawn, October 26, 2010.


Supreme Court dismisses former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka's election malpractice petition without trial: The Supreme Court on October 29 dismissed a petition filed by the former Army Commander and defeated Presidential candidate Geenarl (retired) Sarath Fonseka challenging President Mahinda Rajapakse's re-election at the January 26 Presidential elections.

Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister David Cameron said that there should be an independent investigation into what happened during the decisive phase of Sri Lanka's war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009. Colombo Page, October 29-30 2010.

Remaining IDPs will be settled by the end of 2010, says Government: The Sri Lankan Government on October 25 said that it plans to resettle all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) remaining in the welfare camps by the end of 2010. According to the Ministry of Resettlement the total number of IDPs remaining to be resettled dropped to 18, 799 with the 17,641 people still in the Vavuniya relief villages and another 1,158 IDPs remaining in Jaffna. Colombo Page, October 26 2010.

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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