The economics of terrorism

8 04 2009

Source: The Hindu

THE UNPRECEDENTED terrorist attacks by air in New York and Washington have opened a new phase in the history of mankind and President Bush has already declared it as the “first war of the 21st century.” For many in India, it is a grim reminder of the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai though not comparable on any tragic scale to what happened in New York and Washington. The real significance of Black Tuesday (September 11) is that it is almost sure to shock the U.S. into treating terrorism as its overriding security concern.

The U.S. might take a vow to wipe off terrorism from this planet but even a casual look at the economics of such criminal activities makes it an impossible task. Though most countries might make a mistake of believing it as a plain or politically/ideologically motivated criminal activity the actual truth comes to the surface only when we take a closer look at the economics. It is certainly not a war between nations, religions or classes or even civilisations, as Prof. Samuel Huntington would like us to believe.

It is fundamentally a broad conflict that puts the moderate against the extremist. The job of fighting terrorism cannot be separated from the task of preventing, containing and ending conflicts. All too often the places that generate terrorism as well as drug-trafficking, health epidemics, refugees, outflows and environmental disasters are shattered societies where hunger, greed, repression and poverty have fed violence, despair and extremism.

A close nexus

“Organised crime” will be a defining issue of the 21st century as the cold war was that of the 20th century and colonialism that of the 19th century. Transnational crime will proliferate because crime groups are the major beneficiaries of globalisation. The global drug industry alone now accounts for 2 per cent of the world economy and it is constantly rising.

According to a 1999 World Bank report, the smuggling trade between Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and Pakistan was worth more than $2.5 billions in 1997. If smuggling from other neighbouring nations is included in this network, the turnover could easily cross $5 billions most of it is in narcotics and its related ingredients like various chemicals which go for refining heroin.

There is a close nexus between Taliban and Pakistan in drug- trafficking. According to the U.N. Drug Control Programme, Afghanistan produced 4,600 metric tons of opium in 1999 — three times more opium than what is produced elsewhere in the world. This opium is processed in refining factories in Pakistan before being sent to Lagos en route to Europe and America. It is this drug money, running into several millions of dollars, that fuels terrorism, funds networks across the world and makes possible missions like the WTC air attack.

But drugs may not be the largest part of the global mafia’s business. Mafia related stock-frauds use offshore corporations through various hideouts in the international system to manipulate the stock market.

There are around 50 “states” in the world, e.g. Bahamas, the Pacific island of Nauru, Yugoslavia and the Republic of Montenegro, that exist largely by selling their national sovereignty to those who wish to buy it in order to make their business deals inconspicuous. The “state” of Dominia advertises itself on the World Wide Web — its passport can be bought in a package with a name change, under the slogan “Perfect for someone who would like to leave his past behind”. There is no secret as to what these states do; but since they have the formal attributes of independent states, they cannot simply be closed down.

Estimates of profits

Internationalisation of criminal activities induces organised crime in different countries to establish strategic alliances to cooperate, rather than fight, on each other’s turf, through subcontracting arrangements and joint ventures, whose business practice closely follows the organisational logic of what Manuel Castells, of the fame of The Rise of Network Society, has characterised as “the network enterprise”, the characteristic of the Information Age. Furthermore, the bulk of the proceedings of these activities are by definition globalised through their laundering via global financial markets.

Estimates of profits and financial flows originate in the criminal economy very wildly and are not fully reliable. Yet they are indicative of the phenomenon. The 1994 United Nations Conference on Global Organised Crime estimated that global trade in drugs amounted to about $500 billions a year; that is, it was larger than the global trade in oil. Overall profits from all kinds of illegal activities were put as high as US$1 trillion a year in 1993, which was about the same size as the U.S. federal budget at that time. Sterling considers plausible the figure of $500 billions as the likely global turnover of “narco-dollars.” In 1999, the IMF ventured a very broad estimate of global money laundering in a range between 500 billion and 1.5 trillion dollars a year (or 5 per cent of global GDP).

Need for new agency

The recent global experience of catastrophic terrorism at World Trade Center in New York necessitates the formation of a new institution in India to gather intelligence and deal with all terrorism-related issues. It may be called a National Terrorism Intelligence Bureau, which can collect and analyse information so that it may give a timely warning of suspected catastrophic terrorist activities much ahead of time. The Bureau could have access to data of all law-enforcement agencies and it should be the apex organisation. The Bureau may have following broad functions:

First, to monitor and timely warn the government bodies concerned, and law-enforcement agencies regarding terrorist threats; second, to receive and store all lawfully collected relevant information from any government agency including law- enforcement, phone tapping and judicial information; third, to protect established civil liberty of citizens; fourth, to produce integrated reports that could be disseminated to any agency needing them: finally to suggest ways for counter-terrorism intelligence, including bilateral efforts of individual agency. In short, the Bureau would combine the active intelligence gathering approach of the national security agencies, which are not legally constrained in their foreign investigations, with the domestic authority and investigative resources of law enforcement agencies.

Breeding ground

In devising strategies to fight the terrorists and terrorism, it would surely be useful to minutely observe and understand the forces that drive them. Poverty (illiteracy) amid plenty is one of the greatest challenges and the breeding grounds for terrorism. According to the World Development Report 2000-2001, “at the start of new century, poverty remains a global problem of huge proportions. Of the world’s 6 billion people, 2.8 billion live on less than $2 a day, and 1.2 billion on less than $1 a day. Six infants of every 100 do not see their first birthday, and 8 do not survive to their fifth. Of those who do reach school age, 9 boys in 100, and 14 girls, do not go to primary school.” Similarly, technical hegemony is creating a new map of the world. A small part of the globe, accounting for some 15 per cent of the earth’s population, provides nearly all of the world’s technology innovations. A second part, involving perhaps half of the world’s population, is able to adopt these technologies in production and consumption. The remaining part, covering around a third of the world’s population, is technologically disconnected, neither innovating at home nor adopting foreign technologies. Thus, a concerted attack on poverty and technology diffusion on a large scale will go a long way to contain terrorism and it will dry up the ideological base which sustain the terrorists and terrorism. Lecturing poor countries about weak governance, while providing precious little money for technological advance, public health and other needs, is mere rhetoric which will not work.

Quarrels over ideology have ended. The prosperity of the richest countries is at an all-time high, and so is their capacity to look beyond their own immediate needs. At the same time, the crisis of the poorest countries is acute, and the shortcomings of the current strategy of globalisation painfully evident. Much of the poorer world is in turmoil, caught in a vicious circle of disease, poverty and political instability. Large-scale financial and scientific help from the rich nations is an investment worth- making, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also because even remote countries in turmoil become outposts of disorder for the rest of the world, as has been happening in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan.

During the cold war, the U.S. and its allies invested trillions of dollars to stop the spread of communism. Now, a similar amount should be spent for wiping out terrorism from the globe and the generous aid could facilitate the poor, backward countries in integrating into a global economic network.

Needless to say that at present America’s foreign aid is just 0.1 per cent of its GDP, a derisory shadow of what it used to be. In 1969 the Pearson Commission recommended that donor countries give 0.7 per cent of their gross national product in official development assistance (ODA). The total gap in international development cooperation is close to $100 billions a year, precisely the amount that would be available if the appropriate ODA, according to the 0.7 per cent target, were met. The challenge is to persuade the industrial countries that aid expenditure to build a more secure world is a vital investment and certainly more efficacious than military expenditures.

Following America’s lead, most of the large and developed economies have allowed their own foreign-assistance programmes to shrink since the end of the cold war. Even when the United States reaped a peace dividend of more than 2 per cent of GDP by reducing its defence spending after 1990, it cut, rather than increased, foreign-assistance spending as a share of its national income. The need of the hour is that American administration should pledge to raise foreign assistance to at least 0.3 per cent of the GDP. This would not only bring the world’s richest country back in line with the average aid proportion of other donor nations, but would make available an extra $20 billions a year to invest in economic development. Such a turnaround in America’s role could harness much larger contributions from the European Union, Japan, and other potential donors (both public and private). This increase in foreign assistance by donors would have a positive impact in a serious attempt to contain terrorism as well as break the nexus of illegal economic activities and terrorism at global scale and will foster social capital, civil society and development.

DEVENDRA MISHRA





Alipurduar bomb blast kills one, injures 12

20 03 2009
Alipurduar bomb blast kills one, injures 12
Press Trust of India / Jalpaiguri (wb) March 18, 2009, 13:32 IST

At least one person was killed and 12 others injured when a bomb rigged to a cycle exploded at Alipurduar town in north Bengal today.

The cycle-bomb exploded at a super market complex at Chowpathy in a busy area of the town, IG, north Bengal, K L Tamta told PTI.

He said the bomb was a very powerful one. However, its exact nature was being ascertained.

Asked if it could be the handiwork of the ULFA, he said, “Why should ULFA insurgents come here?”

He said two years ago there was a similar cycle-bomb explosion at Barobisa in the Alipurduar sub-division.

Ananth Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Jalpaiguri, said some people escaped with minor injuries. The injured have been admitted to a Alipurduar sub-divisional hospital.

Tamta said the area had been cordoned off and a bomb squad has been sent to the area.

The deceased has been identified as Sujit Das, 27.

Extremists of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation and ULFA are active in the area.





How hawala money is used to fund terror Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru

7 03 2009

March 06, 2009 15:41 IST

The Financial Intelligence Unit last month marked 200 transactions in India — running into Rs 2,000 crore — as terror-financed. Now, it has commenced its probe to trace the origin of the funds.

It is a known fact that terrorist outfits use counterfeit notes to finance terror operations. This is just one of the means adopted by terror outfits and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence to raise Rs 1,800 crore a year to finance terror. However, in the case being probed by the FIU, there is a considerable amount of money deposited in the banks, meaning they are not counterfeit.

The money which is pumped into terror operations is generated through various sources: smuggling of opium, real estate, fake notes and extortion bids.

Interestingly, the main source of revenue remains the ISI. A study conducted on terror financing indicates that the Pakistan government allocates money officially to the Secret Service Funds. This amount is given for collection of intelligence, spy services and secret operations. However a large part of these funds are diverted for terror related operations by the ISI.

Fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim [Images], too, has a very important role to play in financing terror. Intelligence Bureau officials say that money that is deposited in banks is generated through hawala transactions and Dawood is one of the main sources of such transactions.

Dawood, according to an official, was in charge of routing in funds for terrorist activities carried out by Students Islamic Movement of India.

Dawood’s main source to pump in these funds was an aeronautical engineer who currently is holed up in Saudi Arabia. Dawood with the help of this man, called as Basheer, had set up a ‘Muslim Defence Fund’ for such transactions.

The big question is how these outfits managed to stash these funds in Indian banks. The confession of Ashfaq Ahmed, a Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] operative, throws more light on the same.

He states that his bosses in Pakistan transact money through people settled in Riyadh. He says that most of the funds are transferred to India and are picked up by a hawala transactor. Investigating agencies say that the main places where funds land up are Chandini Chowk in Delhi [Images] and several parts of Mumbai [Images].

The hawala transactor in turn converts the money and then deposits it in the bank. Terror outfits largely rely on fruit vendors, businessmen dealing with electronic goods and those dealing with foreign exchange to conduct hawala transactions.

Once orders to carry out a terror strike is given, the person who has deposited the money is given orders to withdraw it.

Police sources say that records show that hawala transactors have a code name for cirriencies that the use regularly. The US dollar is known as hara, the UK pound as popleen, Dutch Gliders as God, Deutsche Marks as DM and the Franc as FF.

A bank official in Bengaluru [Images] says that the RBI has issued guidelines to tackle the menace of fake currency. However, it is very difficult to keep a tab on hawala money.

“We cannot ask the customer the source of the money and neither do we have the infrastructure or expertise to track the source of the money. It is more of a police job and it is they who have to keep a tab on the money that is being transacted through hawala operators,” he says.





Militants answer distress call Sushanta Talukdar

22 02 2009

Source: The Hindu

Rescue Tamil Nadu surveyors abducted by another outfit in southern Assam

Abductors talked to each other in Nagamese

DNLF militants demanded Rs. 14 crore for release


Guwahati: For 15 days they only cooked rice, salt and some biscuits to eat as they were made to trek for hours through deep jungles, even during late night, in southern Assam’s North Cachar Hills district as their abductors – nine tribal youth heavily armed with Kalashnikovs and other sophisticated weapons – kept guard all the time.

Captives’ ordeal

The ordeal of being held captive in an unknown place began on February 5 for D.S.K. Shathrac from Chennai, C. Suresh from Vellore, Nitish Kumar from Jharkhand and Mahinder Kumar from Kanpur – all four working as surveyors for a Chennai-based private company, Eagle Marketing Consortium, when they were abducted at gunpoint by militants of the little-known Dimasa National Liberation Front (DNLF) from Khelma Basti village under Langting police station in N.C. Hills district.

The four were rescued by militants of another underground outfit – Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel Gorlossa faction) – after a brief encounter between the cadres of the two outfits and handed over to the Langting police station on Thursday night.

It was Senior Vice-President of IOT Infrastructure and Energy Services Limited Ashok Saikia, who sought the help of DHD (Jewel faction), also known as Black Widow, for rescue of the surveyors in lieu of facilitating ceasefire and dialogue between the outfit and the government.

The company had bagged the contract awarded by Oil India Limited for a seismic survey in Karbi Anglong and N.C. Hills in connection with oil exploration and it gave a sub-contract to the Chennai-based firm.

“There was an exchange of fire between the cadres of DNLF and DHD for about 10 to 15 minutes on February 17. Two bullets whizzed past us.

Luckily, no one was injured. As the DNLF cadres guarding us fled after the gun battle, the DHD militants told us that they had come to rescue us. During captivity we used to pray for over 45 minutes as we had nothing else to do.

The DNLF militants liked the handset of Shathrac and promised to pay Rs. 2000 for it. They took the handset but could not pay Shathrac the money as they had to flee following the encounter,” said Nitish Kumar.

Mr. Kumar said their abductors were talking to each other in Nagamese and told them they were returning from Bangladesh.

Mr. Ashok Saikia, son of two-time Chief Minister, the late Hiteswar Saikia, told journalists here on Saturday he had decided to seek the help of DHD (Jewel) after the abductors, who claimed to be DNLF militants demanded an astronomical ransom of Rs. 14 crore and threatened to kill the surveyors if it was not paid in a week.

“Since we were against paying ransom, I decided to seek the help of DHD (Jewel) as I knew that the outfit was keen to have a ceasefire and initiate a dialogue. I told them that I was ready to facilitate it, utilising the good relationship my family had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, if they rescued the abducted employees,” Mr. Saikia said.

He also distributed copies of his four-page written appeal to the self-styled commander-in-chief of the DHD (Jewel) Niranjan Hojai.

Mr. Saikia said the DHD agreed to rescue the surveyors and wanted him to immediately commit himself through the media on facilitating the proposed dialogue, and to highlight the four key demands of the outfit.

“Not a single pie was paid for the release of the captives,” he said.

His company would soon resume its work and he would keep his end of the bargain — facilitate the peace process.





Demanding fairplay is fine, but Azamgarh Muslims need to introspect too

11 02 2009

Source: New age Islam
Muslims from Azamgarh were merely exercising their democratic right to peacefully protest a perceived discrimination and voice their demands for justice and fair treatment.

There is a general feeling in the Muslim community, and not only in Azamgarh, that after every terrorist act the police pick up innocent Muslim youth at random and even if they let them go after interrogation, their lives are already destroyed. They lose their jobs, marriages break down, their Muslim relatives and friends too start avoiding them, not to speak of their Hindu friends or employers. This has already happened to several Muslim youths in different parts of the country.

It is easy to blame the police and the government. Not that they do not deserve that blame sometimes. But while we have to try and keep them on their toes, through peaceful protests, through political mobilisation, and so on, that is not going to solve our problems in the long run. Even the denunciations of terrorism, that some of our ulema are organising in city after city, while useful, are not going to solve our problems. We need to introspect deeply, if there is something that could be wrong with us, with our understanding of our scriptures, and if there is something we can ourselves do to ameliorate our conditions instead of merely hoping and waiting for others to pull our chestnuts out of fire.

Sultan Shahin, editor, New Age Islam
—————————

Demanding fairplay is fine, but Azamgarh Muslims need to introspect too

By Sultan Shahin

Any demand for justice and fairplay in a democratic system of governance is unexceptionable. And to that extent the Muslims of Azamgarh, who descended on Delhi recently to voice their protest at a perceived wrong being done to them or their youth, cannot be faulted. They feel that innocent Muslim youths from Azamgarh are being picked up by the police in various parts of the country for involvement in terrorist acts – a couple of them were even killed in what has become notorious as Batla House encounter.

Muslims from Azamgarh were merely exercising their democratic right to peacefully protest a perceived discrimination and voice their demands for justice and fair treatment.

There is a general feeling in the Muslim community, and not only in Azamgarh, that after every terrorist act the police pick up innocent Muslim youth at random and even if they let them go after interrogation, their lives are already destroyed. They lose their jobs, marriages break down, their Muslim relatives and friends too start avoiding them, not to speak of their Hindu friends or employers. This has already happened to several Muslim youths in different parts of the country.

So one could make the case that Muslims of Azamgarh were merely exercising their democratic right to peacefully protest and voice their apprehensions and demand redressal of perceived wrongs. But every right has a corresponding duty. In case of Indian citizens, it is their duty not to bring our criminal justice system, which by and large functions well enough, into disrepute. Muslims from Azamgarh were demanding judicial enquiry into the September 19 Batla House encounter. Other people, even leaders of the ruling Congress party and its ally Samajwadi Party, not to speak of opposition Communist parties, have done so in the past.

But now the case is in the courts and as of now there is no reason to believe that the court is not performing its task of ferreting out the truth of that encounter. We may not be able to boast of an exemplary judicial system, but our courts have acquitted themselves well, more so in the recent past, and even in cases of Muslims accused of involvement in terrorism.

As far as the complaints against the police go, the police should indeed show the same discretion in picking up Muslim youths as they have shown in arresting Hindus accused of Malegaon blasts; not a single person was arrested there unless the police had genuine reasons for suspicion against them and all those arrested are now being prosecuted. It does show, however, that the police does not pick up only Muslims in terror-related charges. Another thing that has to be kept in mind is that in any terror-related investigation some innocents are bound to suffer; these investigations take place in the backdrop of innocent people having been killed in terrorist attacks and the police working under great media and political pressure to come up with quick results; they can easily make mistakes in such circumstances. Suspecting Muslims is easiest, I suspect, perhaps not so much because the police or the government are discriminatory, but perhaps also because we Muslims have allowed a situation to develop worldwide in which any terrorist event happens and the needle of suspicion automatically points to them.

One of the worries arising out of the episode of the “Ulema Express “ – the name given to the chartered train that brought people from Azamgarh to Delhi – is the clear case of politicking involved. The worries of the Muslim residents of Azamgarh are genuine. Any authentic, well-meaning leadership would have guided them towards deep introspection as to why educated Muslim youth, particularly from Azamgarh, are getting involved into terrorist acts. Instead they are being led into total denial of the very existence of the militant fundamentalism virus imported from Saudi Arabia-Pakistan-Afghanistan region that is gradually infecting Indian Muslim youth too. There is enough evidence to suggest that this is happening, but our leaders, both political and theological, are leading the community into total denial. This does not bode well for the Indian Muslim community. The genuine worries of the Azamgarh Muslims are being channelised into wrong directions.

It would appear that the whole drama was not so much to help Azamgarh Muslims come to terms with the infection spreading rapidly in their area. What do the Muslims of Azamgarh think – one more Maulana winning a parliamentary seat will solve their problem? They must understand that this will only multiply their problems. It is the uneducated Maulanas who call themselves ulema (scholars) who have in the first place created this problem.

A 74-year-old Urdu teacher in a madrasa in Azamgarh, Shams Parvez, was quoted by a reporter as saying that he felt compelled to join the protest journey because he could not bear to see the reports brought out by police about madrasas giving Terror training to students. “Is it wrong for us to teach our children about our religion? How can they say that we impart terror education in our madrasas? As far as education is concerned, our madrasas impart lessons in Urdu, Hindi, science and even English. Why do they want to defame us and stop the education that has finally seen the light of the day in our town?” says Parvez.

Now, Mr. Pervez is right; I know that the madrasas don’t teach terror. But they apparently teach something that helps breed terror eventually, that leads their students and even those non-madrasa students who come under their spell to develop contempt for other religions, for other people; they teach Islam-supremacism. They hep their students develop a very narrow obscuratnist mentality. Is their any reason for Muslims to consider themselves superior to other religious groups? None whatsoever. Muslim community consists of only as many good and bad people as other religious communities. Islam has been as much a failure as other religions in creating better human beings. Some people are good, selfless, honest – everywhere – in every community, caste, country or region. And some are bad, selfish, dishonest again everywhere. The percentage is more or less the same. What ground is there for anyone to think otherwise? Why should any religious community consider itself superior to others? It is this supremacism – I know some Hindus too teach Hindu-supremacism and Christians and Jews teach Christian-supremacism or Jewish-supremacism- that is the culprit. It is this that impairs a person’s ability to integrate well in a multicultural society and leads to hatred and contempt for others. Terror is only one step away from there.

Do you, Mr. Parvez, teach your students that the verses in the Holy Quran that ask Muslims to kill kafirs, and Jews and Christians wherever they find them, are no longer applicable, as they had come in a particular context which has now become obsolete? Do you tell them that not all Quranic verses are of universal significance, that some of them just came to guide the prophet and his followers of the day out of a sticky situation and are no longer relevant? Or do you teach them that all verses in the Holy Quran are a patthar ki lakeer that cannot be obliterated and has to be followed to the letter by Muslims in all times and climes? Do you teach them Ijtihad, Mr. Parvez, asking them to think for themselves to solve the novel problems of the present age and not to always look for answers in the Holy Quran? Being an Urdu teacher, however, it is perhaps not your job too. But did your own teachers tell you this when you were yourself presumably studying in a madrasa, Mr. Parvez?

Mr. Parvez made another significant statement too, as quoted in the press. The report in the Indian Express says: He is also upset that a student in Jyoti Niketan College, who he says is a topper, is allegedly wanted by the police in connection with a terror case. “The principal there is my friend. He told me that the cops were looking for the boy. It is so sad because the boy is brilliant in academics. Do you understand when I tell you how they are targeting educated youth and spoiling their future?” asks Parvez

So t is not just madrasa products, but boys “brilliant in academics” that are being targeted by the police. In any particular case the police can be wrong, even biased and discriminatory. After all, they are only human and prone to err. But what we Muslims need to understand is that the police has a particular reason too to not only go after the madrasa-educated in terrorism-related investigations but also those who are brilliant in academics and have got their education in normal schools. Again there is a world-wide trend of Muslims in university campuses even of the West going radical. I was in the UK, most of the 1980s and I saw day after day how under the influence of Islamic radicalism brilliant students who had a career to look forward to converted to the pernicious religion of Jihadism. What is so surprising if that is happening today in India too?

It is easy to blame the police and the government. Not that they do not deserve that blame sometimes. But while we have to try and keep them on their toes, through peaceful protests, through political mobilisation, and so on, that is not going to solve our problems in the long run. Even the denunciations of terrorism, that some of our ulema are organising in city after city, while useful, are not going to solve our problems. We need to introspect deeply, if there is something that could be wrong with us, with our understanding of our scriptures, and if there is something we can ourselves do to ameliorate our conditions instead of merely hoping and waiting for others to pull our chestnuts out of fire.





Red storm risingRed storm rising

9 02 2009

Presley Thomas,
Source: Hindustan Times

Gadchiroli, February 07, 2009

IST(8/2/2009) At the ramshackle teashop in Gadchiroli, where locals gather for their morning tea and the town’s favourite snack, poha, local banter is run-of-the-mill. Most of it is centred round Bollywood’s latest action adventure, Chandni Chowk to China and with the cinema house as a backdrop just behind the teashop, villagers dissect Akshay Kumar’s antics in the movie. “How about a ticket for the afternoon show? I want to see the movie again,” says a young man. The film may have been declared a flop but it sure is a hit in this outpost, even if Gadchiroli has seen enough adventure and violence around it in the last few days.

Gadchiroli town, a three-hour drive from Nagpur, is the headquarters of a district spread across 15,000 sq km, where left-wing extremists have been waging an ‘armed struggle’ for close to 30 violent, bloody years now. Last Sunday’s massacre of 15 policemen was just the latest in a disturbing list of incidents that have all but wiped out the rule of law in this desperately poor, exploited part of India. The local populace has long learnt to balance those on either side of the law. When we ask taxi driver Pavan if he will take us into the hinterland, he looks at us warily, weighing the profits and dangers of the trip. “What time will you return?” he asks. And doesn’t wait for an answer as he declares, “Nobody travels on those roads after 6 pm. We’ll have to come back before that. Only then will I take you.” Before we can indicate our assent (we have no ch

Growing influence 1980 :
Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, legendary Naxalite leader, sets up the Peoples’ War Group of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). It infiltrates Gadchiroli after a police crackdown on Naxalites in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and makes news in September when activist Peddy Shankar is killed in a police encounter near Sironcha, near the AP border.

1990 :Ten years after the Naxalites’ entry, the movement has taken hold and 113 incidents of violence and 16 deaths are reported.

1991:The number of violent incidents drops to 96, but deaths shoot up to 30. Naxalites kidnap Dharmarao Baba Atram, former Maharashtra minister, who was compelled to resign for poaching chinkaras near Etapalli. He is later let off in exchange for the release of their leader, Shivanna. In November, 10 SRPF jawans are killed and 13 policemen injured in a landmine blast triggered by Naxalites near Etapalli.

2003: A landmine blast kills five policemen near Hemalkasa in Gadchiroli district.

2005 :Seven police personnel killed and six injured on February 22, when a landmine is triggered near Bhamragarh, bordering Chhattisgarh.

2006 : Seven police personnel killed in a landmine blast in April at Bewartola village in Gondia district, adjacent to Gadchiroli.

2007: Naxalite leader Shivanna, now secretary of Gadchiroli division, killed in a police encounter. Murali alias Satya Reddy, divisional secretary of North-Gadchiroli, arrested along with Mumbai professor Arun Ferreira. Two more leaders, Vernon Gonsalves and Sridhar Srinivasan, are arrested in Mumbai.

2008 : Four policemen killed on October 26 in an ambush near Korepalli village in the Aheri tehsil.

2009: Fifteen policemen killed in an ambush on February 1. oice anyway) he adds, “And I will charge you extra because I’m risking my life to take you into Naxalite territory.” THE

INVISIBLE PRESENCE To begin with, the tarmac laid out across the countryside is a joy to ride on. Then, we notice that the forest has become denser. And when we spot a milestone that tells us we’re 70 km away from Gadchiroli town, we realise we have not seen a single human being for the last few kilometres. In fact, we’ve barely seen any signs of habitation.

The turning point, literally speaking, comes at Gyarapatti, where we take the diversion into red territory. “Here, it is the Naxalites who call the shots,” Pavan tells us, and then goes silent as he keeps a sharp eye on either side of the road. Any new person or vehicle entering this region is monitored. And we have to be prepared to step out of the car for an interrogation at any point. Fear hangs heavy in the air here and villagers have been forced to choose between the law and the outlaws. They most often tilt towards the Naxalites.

At Bhurgi village, some 150 km from Gadchiroli, for instance, a tribal youth was hacked to death before a numbed village audience. Those who witnessed the incident are reluctant to speak about it, much less identify themselves. “I just know that there was a fight between two parties, and in the morning I saw the boy murdered,” says one woman. Probe further and she replies, “I will have to bear the consequences if I open my mouth. ‘They will be at my doorstep in 10 minutes.”

At Tumbargunda village, five kilometres away from Bhurgi, the panchayat office was blown up. With it perished all the villagers’ precious documents. “They want to keep a gap between the locals and the political set-up,” explains a police officer. Tumbargunda is just 10 km away from a police station. But villagers sneer, “The police do not dare enter this area.” Even vehicles rarely pass through the 200-km long Ettapalli-Pendri-Michgaon-Lekha-Dhanora stretch in which the village sits.

THE SPILLOVER EFFECT The guerilla zone or ‘liberated zone’ is one that the Naxalites have carved out systematically since

1980. It was easy for them: Gadchiroli district is sandwiched between the Naxalite-dominated areas of Rajanandgaon, Kanker, Dantewada and Bijapur in Chattisgarh; and Karimnagar and Khammam in Andhra Pradesh. The Intelligence Bureau estimates that about 500 full-time CPI (Maoist) cadres are active in Gadchiroli district and have a base of nearly 4,000 to 5,000 local supporters. The Naxalites have divided Gadchiroli district into three operational divisions:

South Gadchiroli, North Gadchiroli and North Gadchiroli/Gondia. The divisions have under their command more than 20 guerilla squads and platoons. Though they earlier operated in ‘dalams’ of 15 to 20 cadres, they’ve switched to a military-style hierarchy now, of local guerilla squads, platoons, battalions and divisions. And there is hardly any police presence to deter their operations.
One senior police official who has spent almost his entire tenure in the Naxalite belt admits that the problem could have been contained much earlier. “When the Naxalites entered Maharashtra from Andhra Pradesh (see ‘Growing Influence’), our government chose to see it a just a ‘spillover’. And we are paying the price now.” Governmental apathy continues. And the Centre seems to have its head buried in the sand even now — the turbulence in the underdeveloped tribal pockets of eastern Maharashtra is conspicuously absent in the Ministry of Home Affairs’s Annual Report (2007-2008).

And the state government has yet to respond satisfactorily with enough development plans for the region. It has taken some measures, though. Pankaj Gupta, chief, anti-Naxalite operations, states that a cash reward of Rs 3 lakh has been announced for villages that follow the Gaon Bandhi scheme in which villagers opt not to provide any support to Naxalites. “When the programme started only a few villages came forward,” admits Gupta. But now, he says, “More than 500 villages in Gadchiroli district have done so.” Gupta also claims that the government’s surrender policy done well. “About 145 Naxalite cadres, including a divisional committee member, have surrendered.

They have been rehabilitated and given police protection,” he says. And Rajesh Pradhan, superintendent of police of Gadchiroli district, claims, “We have managed to restrict the Naxalites to the fringes of Chattisgarh and the Andhra Pradesh border. He adds, “Strategies are being revisited and revised, to counter the leftists’ plans.” How successful those plans will be is a matter that, unfortunately, the police alone do not decide.





analysis: Dealing with a common enemy —Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

3 02 2009

Source: Daily times (Pakistan)
Terrorism is a common enemy of Pakistan and India and this challenge cannot be addressed adequately if these countries do not abandon the current negativity in their interaction. There is a need to return to positive diplomacy and cooperation to combat terrorism.

The Mumbai terrorist attacks were a tragic reminder of the growing threat of terrorism in South Asia, which has extremely negative implications for harmony and stability in the domestic, regional and global contexts. Some extremist groups have acquired the capacity to violently challenge internal order in a state and create extremely problematic situations in inter-state relations. Their actions aim at creating anarchy and undermine the state’s capacity to function as an effective political and administrative entity.

Terrorism and democracy cannot co-exist. These transnational terrorist groups have to be neutralised if democracy and stability are to be secured. This is especially important for countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh that have returned to democracy in the recent past. The Mumbai incident strengthens extremist and hard line political forces in India and marginalises those standing for democracy, peace and good neighbourly relations.

The Indian and Pakistani responses to the Mumbai attack showed that the two states lack a coherent and shared approach to deal with such situations. The home secretaries of India and Pakistan had met in Islamabad on November 25-26, 2008 and reaffirmed their resolve to cooperate with each other for combating the menace of terrorism. Pakistan’s foreign minister was in New Delhi on a peace and goodwill mission when the Mumbai attacks took place. These diplomatic overtures were the first victims of the Mumbai incident.The response of India and Pakistan to the Mumbai incident could be described as episodic, highly nationalistic and shortsighted. Both wanted to play safe by returning to the traditional India-Pakistan confrontation framework. Their initial responses were shaped mainly by mutual distrust and hostility rather than by a desire to view the Mumbai attacks as a challenge that required cool-headed analysis and cooperation.

The task of the Indian government was made difficult by Indian private sector TV news channels that sensationalised the incident. Some anchorpersons openly engaged in Pakistan bashing; some virtually declared war on Pakistan. Their counterparts in Pakistan went on the defensive, arguing that India had started maligning Pakistan before the identity of the terrorists was established. They further accused India of covert efforts to destabilise Pakistan.As compared to the Indian response to the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh avoided some extreme steps like snapping off all communication and trade, recall of ambassadors and reduction of staff of the embassies, and troop mobilisation to the border.This time, the response was tough but measured to avoid an eyeball-to-eyeball military confrontation on the border that could escalate to an all-out war.

The changed strategy reflected a rethink in India on ways to deal with Pakistan in a situation of serious conflict. The 2001-02 Indian troop mobilisation did not extract any concession from Pakistan, which had also moved its troops to the border. India withdrew these troops unilaterally in October to peacetime positions.In the subsequent period, the Indian strategic community explored other punitive options for dealing with Pakistan keeping in mind the presence of nuclear weapons in South Asia.

They suggested surgical airstrikes or swift commando raids on militant training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, limited war rather than a full-fledged war, and Cold Start, which also discarded the notion of total mobilisation of troops to the border with Pakistan.Therefore, instead of full mobilisation, the Indian government moved some troops from peacetime locations to positions closer to the border, but not on the border. Good sense prevailed with the policy makers who decided not to invoke the newly articulated notions of punitive military action against Pakistan.Instead, India launched a comprehensive and aggressive diplomatic offensive against Pakistan with the objective of undermining Pakistan’s reputation and isolating it at the international level.

India would like the international community, especially the United Nations, to declare Pakistan a terrorist state and impose sanctions. The US and European states sympathise with India and are pressuring Pakistan to control terrorist groups based in Pakistan. However, they do not share the Indian aim of isolating Pakistan or designating it a terrorist state. This has caused some anger in India but has also injected realism in its policy towards Pakistan, although the Indian leadership is continuing with its tough rhetoric to deflect pressure from the political right and hard line Hindu groups.

Pakistan’s initial response to the Mumbai incident was confused and the government went into an unrealistic denial mode, i.e. the arrested terrorist and others were not Pakistanis, although some Pakistani TV news channels had provided enough evidence to show that the surviving terrorist belonged to a village in Pakistani Punjab.It took prodding by friendly countries and an internal re-assessment after Pakistan received a dossier from India in the first week of January that the Pakistani government decided to closely examine the linkages between the Mumbai terrorists and Pakistan’s militant groups. Pakistan had earlier banned Jama’at-ud Dawa and detained its leaders.The main victim of the terror incident is the peace process.

Though interaction between India and Pakistan, especially trade and travel, has not been broken off, it has slowed down because of unannounced bureaucratic hold-ups. If the present trends continue, these relations may not be sustainable.This complex and difficult Indo-Pakistan situation led two societal groups, i.e. South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) and the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), to put together a non-official delegation comprising people belonging to civil society groups, political parties and the media that visited New Delhi recently to talk on these issues with their counterparts there.The visit provided a useful opportunity to civil society groups from both countries to exchange views on terrorism and India-Pakistan relations unhindered by official sensitivities.

The people in India expressed strong anger against Pakistan and outlined what could happen if a Pakistan-based terrorist group launched another attack. Such an attack would completely marginalise those who advocate diplomacy and direct interaction for resolution of all problems, including terror related issues.The Indian response is not monolithic. The opinions expressed included a hard line towards Pakistan; anger, anxiety and concern about terrorism; the desire to work through diplomatic channels; support for Pakistan’s current democratic dispensation; and the need to revive normal interaction.

However, there was near unanimity on the view that Pakistan must provide a credible response to the Indian dossier, showing seriousness in dealing with terrorist groups.Despite the tough political statements by Indian government officials and aggressive comments by hard line Hindu groups, the prospects of revival of normal interaction between India and Pakistan are discernable in New Delhi. Much depends on how Pakistan deals with the Indian dossier, in terms of credibility of response and the kind of administrative and legal action that will be taken to neutralise terrorist groups.

However, there is a lack of understanding in India of how terrorism has become a threat to Pakistan’s internal stability; they are more focused on their own problems.Terrorism is a common enemy of Pakistan and India and this challenge cannot be addressed adequately if these countries do not abandon the current negativity in their interaction. There is a need to return to positive diplomacy and cooperation to combat terrorism.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst