SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 9, No. 7, August 23, 2010
assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form
with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management
Minster Omar Abdullah on March 2, 2010, described 2009
as the "most peaceful year" over 20 years of turmoil
in the State. While trends in terrorist incidents and
fatalities continue to decline, the spurt in street
violence over the past nearly two-and-a-half months
has created a new specter of widening disruption in
several parts of the Valley. Political temperatures
and administrative concerns have spiraled with the disorders,
though the situation is far from being nearly as desperate
as is sometimes painted to be. Contrary to popular perceptions,
coloured by hysterical media reportage, only small parts
of the Valley – itself a fraction of the State – have
been engulfed violence, much of which is meticulously
60 protesters have been killed by the Security Force
(SFs) in 72-days of street violence since June 11, 2010.
If these killings are mapped across the Kashmir Valley,
it is seen that, deaths have been reported from seven
out of 10 Districts, and four – Baramulla (17 killed),
Srinagar (15), Anantnag (11) and Pulwama (11) - have
reported fatalities in double digits. The other Districts
from where deaths have been reported include Kulgam
(3), Kupwara (2) and Bandipora (1). More importantly,
Shopian, Ganderbal and Budgam Districts recorded no
deaths, though there were reports of sporadic violence
in these areas as well. A total of 872 stone-pelting
incidents have been recorded in June and July and 1,266
SF personnel have been injured in these two months alone.
the widespread impression that the present disturbances
represent a popular uprising, or that ‘things are worse
than they were in the early 1990’s’ is utterly misconceived.
The troubles have largely been orchestrated within a
minuscule segment of the population, in small areas
of the Valley, and the disruption caused is principally
a measure of the incompetence of administrative response,
rather than of any irresistible upsurge of popular sentiment.
The timetables of the stone pelting campaigns have been
defined by separatists, in the main led by the Hurriyat
Conference – Geelani (G) chairman Syed Ahmed Shah Geelani,
backed by Pakistan and its proxy militant groupings
in Kashmir. Intelligence available on the profiles of
protesters suggests that they include a large number
of ‘seasoned campaigners’, provocateurs who have taken
up stone pelting as a lucrative business. In an interview
in April 2010, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah thus stated,
"The industry of stone pelting is very much in
our radar. We have in fact been able to identify to
a couple of big business houses, one in particular who
has used to his network of dealers to route the money
cycle of violence escalated with the killing of Tufail
Ahmad Mattoo in Police firing in Srinagar’s Rajouri
Kadal area on June 11. This followed violent street
protests in Srinagar and adjoining areas. The street
violence gained tempo followed the killing of Javed
Ahmad Malla on June 20. Thereafter, a self-perpetuating
cycle of street violence, followed by Police firing,
has kept things on a boil. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram
informed the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament)
on August 4,
June 11, 2010, there has been a cycle of violence
threatening law and order and public peace. The
violence in the State has followed a certain pattern.
Usually, the violence is triggered by stone pelting
by large crowds and their targets of attack are
police stations, police outposts and other public
property. There have been instances where the
security forces have been fired upon by someone
in the protesting crowds. There is reliable intelligence
that some armed militants may have mingled with
the crowds and fired at the security forces.
orchestration of the disorders has been systematic.
When the street rage began to peter out in Srinagar
in the last week of June, demonstrations erupted in
Sopore in Baramulla District. This was far from coincidental,
since Sopore has emerged as a significant hub of terrorism
and subversion in the State. On March 2, 2010, Chief
Minister Omar Abdullah had noted, "Militants are grouping
in the Sopore area and Kulgam District. These areas
are a challenge for us on the militancy front. We are
taking extra measures to deal with the militants there."
Subsequently, on Jun 30, 2010, Chidambaram observed,
"Anti-national elements are clearly linked to LeT
(Lashkar-e-Toiba) which is active in the Sopore area."
Government sources argue that the latest strategy of
Pakistan's external intelligence agency, the Inter Services
and the LeT, is to combine renewed infiltration attempts
by heavily-armed militants with escalating civil unrest,
to ensure that Kashmir remains in a state of chaos,
despite the loss
of tempo on the terrorism front.
cuts, long pushed by an uncomprehending ‘peace lobby’,
both domestic and international, and by aggressive Pakistani
diplomacy, have an adverse impact on the security scenario
in the State. A confidential report by the J&K Police
blamed the resurgence of militancy in Sopore on troop
‘relocation’. On March 17, Chief Minister Abdullah had
boasted, "Without creating any hype we have reduced
35,000 troops and also decreased the number of Central
Paramilitary Forces [CPMFs] from internal duty."
of troop reduction in Sopore is not clear, but it is
evident that it has facilitated militant regrouping
and contributed significantly to a worsening of the
situation. There is significant and cumulative evidence
that the current cycle of protests is being backed,
if not stage managed by the armed militants. Conspicuously,
on March 10, Director General of Police (DGP) Kuldeep
Khoda observed, "This (stone pelting) helps militants
to move from one place to another. This leaves less
chance of ultras [terrorists] getting detected."
trends, meanwhile, suggest worrying times ahead. Infiltration
attempts across the Line of Control (LoC) show no signs
of abating and have, indeed, registered a significant
jump. As many as 740 militants have tried to sneak into
J&K over the last 18 months. Defence Minister A.
K. Antony told the Lok Sabha on July 27, "In
2009, 485 terrorists had attempted to infiltrate into
J&K. This year, from January to June, a total of
255 terrorists have attempted to infiltrate.'' More
worryingly, these attempts are being regularly aided
by cease-fire violations across the LoC by the Pakistan
Army [the Indo-Pak cease-fire agreement was signed in
2003]. In the latest of a series of such violations,
the Pakistani Army directed mortar and rocket fire at
Indian positions on the LoC at Nangi Tekri in Krishna
Ghati sector of Poonch District on August 19. Feeding
the infiltration are 34 'active' and eight 'holding'
terror-training camps that remain operational across
the border. According to Government estimates, there
are some 371 foreign militants affiliated to foreign
terrorist organisations in the Valley.
dramatic and continuous declines in fatalities since
their peak in 2001, terrorism related violence remains
significant in the State. There have been 168 killings
in 2010, till June 30, according to the MHA, including
114 militants, 34 SF personnel and 20 civilians, in
254 incidents. The South Asia Terrorism Portal
(SATP) data put the death toll at 250 comprising
of 166 militants, 55 SFs and 29 civilians upto August
evident that present conditions are far from favorable
for any dilution on the security front. The Union Government
has already shelved plans for further troop cuts and
has, instead, sent in an additional 19 companies of
Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMFs) to the Valley. 32
companies (3,200 personnel) of CPMFs currently posted
in different parts of J&K are also being redeployed
to the trouble-torn Districts of Kashmir. Despite a
strident campaign for the revocation of the Armed Forces
Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958, the Centre has now
made it clear that the demand cannot be considered,
though there has been some talk of a ‘dilution’ of the
act to accommodate specific ‘concerns’. The AFSPA was
extended to J&K in 1990, after militancy gained
ground in the State, and currently covers its entire
territory, with the exception of Kargil and Ladakh.
The Act confers powers and legal safeguards on the Army
to undertake counter-terrorism operations.
the cycles of street violence showing no signs of abating,
the Centre has come up with a knee jerk offer of a ‘political
and economic package’. On August 10, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh declared,
am convinced that the only way forward in Jammu
and Kashmir is along the path of dialogue and
reconciliation. But I recognize that the key to
the problem is a political solution that addresses
the alienation and emotional needs of the people.
This can only be achieved through a sustained
internal and external dialogue. We are ready for
this. We are willing to discuss all issues within
the bounds of our democratic processes and framework.
We must promote economic activity and create opportunities
for employment. We must build physical and human
on August 2, Chief Minister Abdullah had stated, at
some variance with the Prime Minister’s perspectives,
and Kashmir is a political situation. It needs
political handling. It requires a political package
more than an economic package. By political package,
I mean dealing with issues like Armed Forces Special
Powers Act, footprint of the security forces,
rehabilitation package for youngsters who are
across the Line of Control and compensation for
victims of the ongoing trouble.
is, clearly, substantial evidence of policy confusion
in Kashmir, and this is infinitely compounded by the
infirmity of the Abdullah regime in the State. By most
assessments, there is endemic administrative collapse
in the State Government, and little sign that the leadership
has the capacity or acumen to deal with the present
and rising crisis with a modicum of competence. The
rudiments of crowd control and of the handling of fairly
small groups of protesters without the use of lethal
force, continue to be ignored, even as every incident
of Police firing feeds the street frenzy even further.
The crisis of Kashmir is a crisis, not of politics or
of economics, but, simply, of competence.
The PCPA and its ‘Useful Idiots’
Fakir Mohan Pradhan
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management
August 11, 2010, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs
Ajay Maken informed the Rajya Sabha (Upper House
of Parliament) that the People’s Committee against Police
Atrocities (PCPA), a
Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)
front organisation, was involved in the May 28, 2010,
derailment of the Jnaneswari Express, which led to the
death of 148 persons and injury to many others. "Investigation
conducted, so far, reveals that Police Santrash Birodhi
Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC/PCPA), a frontal organisation
of Maoists, was involved in damaging the railway track,
thereby causing the accident," the Minister stated.
the announcement discredited Union Minister for Railways
and Chief of Trinamool Congress (TC) Mamata Banerjee’s
allegations about the involvement of her political opponents
in West Bengal, the ruling Communist party of India-Marxist
(CPI-M), as well as her chit to the PCPA and the Maoists.
Three days after the incident, Banerjee had claimed, "They
[the CPI-M] have been planning sabotage…They are not planning
development, but opening clips on tracks. Some comrades
are drawing up scientific plans."
9, Banerjee had organised a massive rally in Lalgarh in
West Midnapore District – the epicentre of Maoist activities
in West Bengal – with the PCPA prominently participating.
The PCPA presence was, in fact, so conspicuous that TC
members were substantially outnumbered by PCPA supporters.
At the rally, Banerjee chose to focus on the encounter
of Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, the late spokesman
and Central Committee member of the CPI-Maoist, describing
it as ‘incorrect’ and demanding an inquiry by the Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI), raising a political storm.
rally had initially been opposed by the Maoists and the
PCPA. However, on August 1, the TC chief announced that
the rally would be organised under the banner of the Santrash
Birodhi Mancha (anti-atrocities platform). The PCPA
then changed track and announced that it would participate
in the rally, as it stood against ‘State terror’ and for
peace in the region. Eventually, the rally turned into
a PCPA show of strength, since the TC has little political
base in the area. PCPA flags far outnumbered Trinamool
flags in the 60,000-strong rally, and even wanted PCPA
leaders — including Asit Mahato, who carries a reward
of INR 100,000 on his head for the Jnaneswari Express
sabotage, and spokesperson Manoj Mahato — led huge processions
to the venue. The Police, however, managed to arrest just
four PCPA cadres, including one Sushil Mahato. Interestingly,
Sushil Mahato had been ‘caught’ and subsequently handed
over to the Police by villagers on July 25, but managed
to be ‘taken away’ from the Police by his supporters.
He had reportedly gone to Nichhinda village near Lodhasuli
in West Midnapore District to force people to join a rally.
the rally was ostensibly organised for peace in the region,
it was essentially intended to build up for the State
Legislative Assembly Election which falls due in 2011.
The main speakers, who included social activists Medha
Patkar and Swami Agnivesh, exhorted the congregation to
rally behind Mamata Banerjee in her campaign to dislodge
the ruling CPI-M from power.
Minister’s game plan is quite clear. The Lalgarh rally
is intended to build up for the Assembly Elections, just
as Nandigram and Singur had helped her consolidate politically
in the run-up to the municipal elections of May 2010.
The gamble is dangerous. While the TC had a significant
base in Nandigram and Singur, it has none in the Jangal
Mahal area, and is chalking up a massive debt to the Maoists
in its efforts to secure an electoral consolidation here.
were evident even in Nandigram. It is useful to recall
that the Maoists had killed Trinamool Panchayat (village
level local self Government institution) President Nishikanta
Mondal, who had fought side by side with the Maoists,
including Telgu Deepak, a Maoist Central Military Commission
member, in the Nandigram protest campaign and had apparently
earned their trust. Mondal was reportedly killed on September
22, 2009, because he sought to distance himself from the
Maoists after winning the election, and had tried to oppose
Maoist expansion in the area. In case of a TC victory,
the Maoists will certainly call their debt, and will retaliate
violently if sufficient ‘cooperation’ is not in evidence.
meanwhile, have had some of their own worries in Lalgarh.
The loosely controlled PCPA, with its blurring of lines
between the military and political wings, fits uncomfortably
into the Maoist scheme. The PCPA’s direct involvement
in violent activities is seen to be compromising ‘military
secrets’ [the PCPA now has its own armed wing, the Sidhu
Kanu Gana Militia].
their success in Lalgarh, moreover, the Maoists have suffered
a number of recent reverses as well. The Maleta forest
encounter of July 26, 2010 in which six Maoists, including
a woman cadre, and a Central Reserve Police Force trooper
were killed; the Ranja forest encounter of June 16, 2010
in which at least 10 Maoists were killed; the Hathilot
forest (near Lakhanpur) encounter of March 25, 2010, where
Maoist Politburo member Koteswar Rao alias Kishan
himself was injured; as well as the loss of key PCPA cadres
– have become cause of worry. Of course they are worried
not because these leaders are irreplaceable, but because
each reverse reflects signs of increasingly effective
Police intelligence and infiltration into their ranks.
A cell phone conversation intercepted by Intelligence
agencies, part of which was published in the media on
August 8, 2010, Kishan was heard telling a senior squad
leader in Lalgarh:
our leaders are being arrested or eliminated. How
is this possible? Police have penetrated our ranks.
We have to disown the PCAPA (People’s Committee
against Police Atrocities). We have to convince
the media that PCAPA and CPI (Maoist) are different
organisations with different political agendas...
that neither Chhatradhar Mahato nor Asit Mahato
has any links with us."
there are some indications that the Maoists may be looking
at the possibility of letting PCPA fighting the Assembly
Elections. There is also some evidence suggesting that
the PCPA is willing to contest elections. PCPA spokesperson
Manoj Mahato thus declared, on August 10, 2010, "PCPA
swears by the Indian Constitution. It can always participate
in elections. In fact, the question came to us before
the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. We were then in expansion mode
and could not gauge our strength among the masses. We
were in two minds. But Chhatradhar Mahato and his supporters
went to cast their votes despite the poll boycott call
by the Maoists." The PCPA is confident of winning elections
on its own in at least three constituencies in West Midnapore
and South Bankura, and would not like the TC to make any
inroads in its core area. Reports indicate that it would
rather offer support to the TC in the fringe areas of
Jangal Mahal – Garbeta, Keshpur and Goaltore – where the
TC is facing stiff resistance from CPI-M cadres.
of PCPA as a Maoist front organisation in the aftermath
of the failed attack on the convoy of the Chief Minister
Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and then Union Steel Minister Ramvilas
Paswan at Salboni in West Midnapore District on November
2, 2008, is too well documented
to be repeated here. PCPA has, since, been functioning
under the guidance of the Maoists to further the Left
Wing Extremist cause.
Chhatradhar Mahato, founder convener, tried to hard sell
PCPA as an organization independent of the Maoists, involved
in protesting alleged atrocities by the Police, without
any semblance of violence. As a front organisation, it
provided cover to the Maoists by repeatedly organizing
mass protests and shut downs. PCPA cadres also provided
shelter to Maoist cadres during Police search operations,
and often supplied the ‘people’ in the Maoist ‘people’s
courts’, an euphemism for Kangaroo courts.
aftermath Chhatradhar Mahato’s arrest on September 26,
2009, however, the PCPA threatened to embark on a "blood-soaked
movement shortly" in the Lalgarh area, unless their leader
was unconditionally released. Exactly, a month later,
on October 26, the PCPA announced that it had turned into
an armed group called Sidhu Kanu Gana Militia.
The announcement came with the claim that PCPA members
had looted 10 firearms by raiding a CPI-M armed rally
at Goaltore in West Midnapore District. Asit Mahato, the
PCPA spokesperson, who replaced Chhatradhar Mahato (under
detention), said the tribal forum would "no longer continue
democratic processes of rallies and agitations", adding,
"We have formed the People’s Militia Force. After facing
continuous torture by the joint forces and the administration
in Jangal Mahal, PCPA has decided to pick up arms to combat
the forces." Mahato threatened that the militia
would soon hit State and Central Government offices and
agencies and called for an indefinite strike in Jangal
Mahal from October 27. The PCPA has, thus far, enforced
at least 62 days of general shut down in the State. Moreover,
the organization has since been involved in at least 110
incidents of violence, including murder and arson, along
with Maoist cadres. According to the South Asia Terrorism
Portal Database, the PCPA has engineered at least
23 incidents of arson – mostly setting ablaze motor vehicles
or houses of CPI-M cadre or supporters, or Government
offices. The most violent act engineered by the PCPA was,
however, the May 28, 2010, derailment of the Jnaneshwari
Express near Sardiha station, Jhargram, in West Midnapore,
as a result of which 148 passengers were killed as pandrol
clips were removed from the tracks. The PCPA claimed responsibility
for the derailment through posters left at the incident
site. However, the claim was retracted the next day, as
news of the fatalities spread, and the leadership of the
PCPA announced plans to observe "days of mourning" on
June 7 and June 8, in remembrance of those killed in the
on October 27, 2009, armed cadres of the PCPA and CPI-Maoist
laid siege to the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express
at Banstala Railway Station, eight kilometres from Jhargram
town in West Midnapore District. The SFs rushing to the
site for rescue operations, and were ambushed by the PCPA/Maoists,
forcing an encounter in which two PCPA cadres were killed
and a Policeman was injured.
at least 13 PCPA cadres have been killed by the SFs, the
most prominent among them, the PCPA founder president,
Lalmohan Tudu. Tudu was killed by the SFs on February
22, 2010, along with at least two other PCPA cadres who
had taken part in the Shilda Eastern Frontier Rifles camp
In addition, Sidhu Soren, chief of the Sidhu Kanu Gana
Militia, was killed, along with five other Maoists,
on July 26, 2010, during a raid by the SFs on a Maoist
hideout in the dense forests of Goaltore area in
West Midnapore District. Sidhu was close to Kishan, and
was one of the ‘commanders’ who led attack at the Shilda
have also arrested at least 82 PCPA leaders and cadres.
The most prominent among these was the ‘assistant treasurer’
of the PCPA, Sukh Shanti Baske, who was arrested from
the Lalgarh area on September 28, 2009. Sibu Murmu, the
secretary of PCPA's Bankura wing, was arrested on October
16, 2009. Though two of the main accused in the Jnaneswari
Express derailment case, Umakanta Mahato and Asit Mahato,
are still at large, 13 PCPA cadres have been arrested
in connection with this incident, including two main accused,
Bapi Mahato (June 20) and Manik Mahato (July 7). Meanwhile,
with the rise in number of arrests of PCPA leaders/cadres,
the Maoists are becoming apprehensive of leaks and security
compromises, and have allegedly killed three PCPA cadres.
the reverses that the PCPA has suffered, the disruptive
dominance of the PCPA – Maoist combine in the Jangal Mahal
area is almost complete, and the leaders that have been
lost are quickly replaced. On July 31, 2010, the PCPA
announced that Tota Hembram would be the ‘Commander in
Chief’ of the Sidhu Kanu Gana Militia, and Manoj
Mahato would be the ‘secretary’.
elections directly or indirectly (supporting the TC),
the PCPA/ Maoists would strengthen their political clout,
even as they retain their ‘military’ capacities, making
it more difficult for the State to neutralize their augmenting
Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
August 16-22, 2010
data compiled from English language media sources.
issues terror alert: Country
was put on high alert after intelligence inputs
suggested that Pakistan-based militants may strike
during the coming festival season. The Centre asked
the States of Delhi, Karnataka and Kerala to deploy
more forces in sensitive locations.
Hindu, August 20, 2010.
militants present among protestors in Kashmir Valley,
says Government: The
Government on August 17 said it has received reports
of armed militants present among protestors in the
crowd during the recent spate of violence in Jammu
Excelsior, August 18, 2010.
establishing links with militants in Assam, says
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has alerted
the Assam State Police about Communist Party of
India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) establishing links with
militants in Assam.
Times of India, August 18,
groups reviving militancy in Punjab, says Government:
The Central Government on August 17 said that Sikh
militant groups from abroad are trying to resurrect
militancy in Punjab.
Times of India, August 18,
set preconditions for talks:
Responding to the Centre’s offer for peace talks,
the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)
on August 17 set three preconditions for talks -
remove Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, bring
in independent mediators and announce a three-month
Hindustan Times, August
forces not doing well against Maoists, says MHA:
The combined forces
battling the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)
in seven States are not having much success, Union
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) statistics for 2008,
2009 and the first six months of 2010 show. Combined
forces men are running anti-Maoist operations in
Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh,
Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
DNA India, August 21, 2010.
revoking of AFSPA, says Jammu and Kashmir Chief
Minister Omar Abdullah:
Omar Abdullah on August 18 ruled out immediate revocation
of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA),
but said "it can be amended to make it humane".
of India, August 17, 2010.
Pradesh extends ban on Maoists:
State Government on August 16 issued orders extending
ban on the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)
by another year with effect from August 17.
of India, August 17, 2010.
Bru refugees in Tripura:The
total number of Bru refugees, lodged at six relief
camps in North District of Tripura, stands at 31,703,
according to a resurvey of their population conducted
in August 2010 by the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s
News, August 17, 2010.
agrees to withdraw candidacy for Prime Minister:
Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M)
chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda
agreed on August 16 to withdraw its candidacy for
the Prime Minister’s post given that all the political
stakeholders genuinely agree on the formation of
a national consensus Government.
Online, August 17, 2010.
militants and eight civilians among 29 persons killed
during the week in FATA: Six
persons died and five others were injured as a vehicle
hit an explosive device at Baizai tehsil (revenue
unit) of Mohmand Agency in Federally Administrated
Tribal Areas (FATA) on August 21.
militants were killed in US drone missile attack
in North Waziristan, locals and official sources
least 11 militants and one trooper were killed on
August 19 in different operations of Security Forces
in the Orakzai and Kurram Agencies.
militants were killed and several others injured
when militants of Mullah Nazir group, a break away
faction of Hakeemullah Mehsud led Tehreek-e-Taliban
Pakistan (TTP), and TTP clashed in Mantoi area of
South Waziristan Agency in the night of August 17.
News, August 17-23, 2010.
conviction of terrorist in past three years, indicates
A report on August 20 indicates that Pakistan courts
are yet to convict a single person in any of the
country’s biggest terrorist attacks of the past
three years, a symptom of a dysfunctional legal
system that’s hurting the fight against the Tehreek-e-Taliban
Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and al Qaeda at a critical
of India, August 21, 2010.
regrouping, warns Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information
Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain: The
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar
Hussain warned on August 19 that militants were
regrouping in areas around Peshawar and could launch
an attack anytime.
Indian Express, August 20,
will gain if leadership fails, says President Asif
Ali Zardari: President
Asif Zardari warned on August 16 that if the political
leadership failed to lead the nation, extremists
and militants could step in to fill the vacuum.
August 17, 2010.
Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that
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