India-China crisis

The recent crisis over alleged Chinese incursions in the Indian territory has brought back the memories of the humiliating defeat of 1962 war at the hands of China.

Media reports about Chinese incursions, its grand strategy to encircle India, and its continued policy of containing India’s rise as a regional and global power, has created a war hysteria in the country.

The present Indian government has been accused of being soft on the issue of rising Chinese aggressiveness vis-a-vis India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed the media for blowing the border row issue out of proportion. The government admitted that there have been cases of incursions but the situation was not at all alarming.

Both the countries have reiterated that while there are difference on the border issue, they will be resolved peacefully. On the issue of China’s  aggressive policy (mentioned later in the article) towards India, let’s look at the various measures undertaken/planned by the Indian government in the last few years.

1. With an objective to counter Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean, the Indian government has planned to strengthen the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by having a strong Air Force and Naval presence there. According to a media report, a proposed tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) will be in action by the end of 2009. Also, by 2020, the ANC will include,

  • Nuclear submarine base in South Andaman
  • Permanent Sukhoi-30 base at Car Nicobar
  • Tactical aerial reconnaissance base at Campbell Bay
  • Aircraft carrier base
  • Expansion of INS Kardip advance naval base in Nicobar
  • A dedicated 250MW nuclear power station to feed the proposed militarisation programme

2. India has revitalised its relations with the countries in Southeast Asia and East Asia. The ‘Look East’ policy is aimed at deepening India’s ties with these countries.

3. The Indian Air Force recently operationalised the Nyoma airfield, located at a height of 13300 feet, in Ladakh by landing an AN-32 aircraft there. The field is close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the touchdown will help India move its troops and maintain logistics lines in the forward areas along the border.

4. Interestingly, Nyoma is the third helicopter base to be upgraded for operations of fixed-wing aircraft. Daulat Beg Oldie and Fuk Che were the other such bases that were made functional in May and November 2008.

5. The government also has plans of upgrading 38 airfields in the the border areas, most of which are located in the North East region facing China.

6. The government has also given nod to rapid modernisation and construction of airfields and roads of strategic importance in states like Arunachal Pradesh.

7. The Indian Army is raising two more divisions in the Northeast.

8. An airfield in Assam’s Tezpur was upgraded for handling fighter jet operations. The IAF has already deployed SU-30 jets there. There are also plans to operationalise another airbase at Mohanbari in Assam which too will handle SU-30s.

Chinese policy

Now let’s also look at the Chinese policy towards India in last few years.

1. Certain reports in the Chinese media (Media in China is tightly controlled by the State) have indicated the possibility of a limited conflict with India. One article in a state-run publication even suggested “Balkanisation of India” in order to prevent it from posing a challenge to China’s supremacy in Asia in the future.

2. China is increasing its influence in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Central Asia, Myanmar, and Thailand. It is selling military technology to countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar (besides Pakistan). The possibility of China acquiring naval bases in these areas and also gaining access to it through over-land and air routes can seriously affect India’s trade and maritime interests in the long run. This policy, of perceived strategic encirclement, is aimed at expanding its reach to Southeast Asia and the Bay of Bengal. Some analysts also point out that the policy is also driven by China’s need for oil to meet its increasing demand.

3. The Chinese policy of forging relations with key states in Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf could also hurt India’s economic interests in the future.

4. China’s continuous support to the Pakistan is also a serious concern for India. It has been an important source of conventional military technology for Pakistan. The recent disclosure by Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q Khan of Chinese assistance in its nuclear programme justifies India’s concerns. While, China has never fully guaranteed Pakistan’s security, its policy of low-cost investment in increasing the latter’s defence capability vis-a-vis India is also a major irritant for the Indian policy makers. Add to this the long term political and diplomatic support China has been extending to Pakistan over last few decades.

5. China’s alleged support to the insurgent groups operating from Northeastern states like Manipur, Nagaland, and Assam.

Strengthening India

While all these has been happening, the relations between India and China have been normal. Both the countries have made genuine efforts to resolve the boundary disputes. The number of military exchanges between the armed forces of both the countries have also gone up. Bilateral trade between India and China has also increased considerably.

Despite all this, the feeling of mistrust for each other exists in both the countries. The present incursion issue being an example.

The Indian response to the the hysteria in the press about recent Chinese incursions suggest that it wants to avoid rhetorical, political and military fights with China. India has avoided making public its displeasure even on the issue of China’s continued military assistance to Pakistan.

The Indian response to China’s policies (mentioned in the points above) suggest that India wants to strengthen its position vis-a-vis while seeking to avoid any direct confrontation with it.

No clarity on Ishrat's alleged terror links

A damning inquiry report by Metropolitan Magistrate S P Tamang on the death of Ishrat Jahan, Javed Ghulam Sheikh, Zeeshan Johar, and Amjad Ali Akbarali Rana (the latter two were Pakistani nationals according to the security agencies) has claimed that the Gujarat police killed the four alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in a fake encounter near Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

The report, accessed by Canary Trap, mentions the names of 21 policemen of conniving in the fake encounter for reaping personal gains. All these officers conspired to get promotions, maintain their positions, show their best work, and get appreciation from the chief minister.

The police officials mentioned in the report include then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner K R Kaushik, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) P P Pandey, then DCP D G Vanjara (prime accused in the Sohrabudin Shaikh fake encounter case), ACP G L Singhal, ACP N K Amin, and other Crime Branch officials.

The report also alleges that Ishrat and the others were kidnapped from Mumbai on June 12, 2004, and killed on the night of June 14 by the police.

Justice Tamang has also rubbished the police’s claim that Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Rana were Pakistani nationals. But he has not offered any proof to back his claim. Interestingly, while the parents of Ishrat and Javed Sheikh have filed court petitions for a CBI inquiry in the case, nobody even claimed their bodies after the encounter in 2004 and they were buried by the state police.

The Gujarat High Court has stayed the Tamang report and even pulled up the judge for making the report public even before submitting a copy of it to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and the state.

Notwithstanding the reasons behind making the report public before supplying a copy to the concerned authorities, Justice Tamang’s conclusions have exposed the motives of the police officers for staging the encounter. But there are no clear answers to the question of the alleged terror links of the people who were killed.

While the Gujarat police and the state government claim that the deceased were LeT operatives, allegedly plotting to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi, activists and NGOs have already started claiming that all of them were innocent and had no terror links.

In contrast, Home Minister P Chidambarm walked the tightrope of common sense by stating that intelligence inputs regarding activities of specific people (i.e., actions and links) cannot be solely used to kill them in cold blood.

Home Ministry affidavit

In that sense, the Gujarat police could have detained and interrogated them to get more information about LeT’s network in the state and the country. But to absolve them from the charges of carrying out terror activities is not appropriate from a security point of view.

However, what was the information or evidence based on which security officials suspected these four people?

Canary Trap has access to the Home Ministry’s affidavit – which was submitted in the Gujarat HC – that spells out the intelligence inputs regarding the terror activities of Javed Ghulam Sheikh (alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai), Zeeshan Johar (alias Janbaaz, Abdul Ghani), and Amjad Ali Akbarali Rana (alias Salim, Chandu, Babbar, Rajkumar). The affidavit was in response to the petition submitted by Ishrat’s mother, which questioned the police encounter and demanded a CBI probe in the case.

According to the affidavit, the Union government had received specific inputs in 2004 about LeT’s plan to carry out terrorist activities in various parts of the country, including Gujarat. It had inputs regarding the terror organisation’s plan to carry out assassination of some top-level national and state leaders.

The affidavit further states that LeT had inducted its cadre, including Pakistani LeT terrorists, in Gujarat for specific terrorist action. All the inputs were shared with the concerned state governments, it states.

In particular, with regard to Javed, the affidavit explains that Javed was subverted to the cause of the LeT while he was working in Dubai. He also visited Oman (March-April 2004) where he was briefed by a senior LeT operative, named Muzammil (alias Tariq), who was responsible for carrying out terror activities in hinterland areas of India.

Thereafter, it adds that Javed was in regular touch with LeT operatives to carry out terror actions in Gujarat and mentions details of his criminal background and suspicious business activities.

It further states that the Pune Police recovered documents related to the preparation of high explosive devices, electronic circuits for timed detonation, advanced code sheets for communication, and code names assigned to various targets (including political personalities) from Javed’s residence.

Terror links

Regarding the two Pakistani nationals, Zeeshan (resident of Gujaranwala) and Amjad (resident of Sargoda), the affidavit states that it was known to the security agencies that they were sent by LeT to carry out terror attacks in Gujarat and infiltrated from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in to J&K.

It mentions that Amjad was also injured in an encounter with the J&K Police and was treated for a bullet injury in Delhi in early May 2004, while Zeeshan had procured a J&K government identity card in the name Abdul Ghani.

Clearly, as per the affidavit, the Centre had more than sufficient grounds to suspect the terror links of the three men. However, what remains is a conspicuous ambiguity about Ishrat’s alleged links with these three and/or the larger terror network.

It is clear from the petitions of Shamima Kausar (Ishrat’s mother) and M R Gopinatha Pillai (Javed’s father) that Ishrat was working as a sales girl in Javed’s business.

The Home Ministry affidavit raises several concerns regarding this claim, the principal ones among them being a lack of information in both the petitions about the nature of work that Ishrat was involved in and Javed’s business activities.

The affidavit, therefore, claims that hiring of Ishrat as a sales girl appeared to be a part of the LeT conspiracy to provide cover to Javed of being husband and wife during his movements to various parts of the country for the accomplishment of his terrorist mission.

Besides this, the affidavit also refers to a news item (An apology to Ishrat Jahan’s family) published in Jamat-ud-Dawah to claim that Ishrat was actively associated with LeT.

Politics over encounter

Based on all this, it is clear that while the details provided by the officials to support the claim that Javed, Zeeshan and Amjad had terror links can be taken into consideration, the claim that Ishrat too was an active LeT operative seems far fetched.

All that can be established based on the information that is given by the Home Ministry is that she was working with Javed. Nobody knows whether she was aware of his terror linkages or not.

The Gujarat High Court, meanwhile, has also formed a three-member committee under Additional Director General of Police Pramod Kumar to probe the killing of Ishrat and three others in 2004. The court ordered a probe on the petition of Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar. The committee will submit its report on or before November 30.

More details will emerge in the coming days but the political parties have already started blaming each other. The Congress party is blaming the BJP government in Gujarat of killing Muslims in fake encounters, and the latter is blaming the former of playing politics over a national security issue.

While the Gujarat government will have to initiate action against police officials involved in the staged encounter if the HC probe too finds them guilty, the Centre too has a lot to explain. The affidavit regarding the terror links of Ishrat and three others was not submitted in the Gujarat HC till August 6 this year despite it being cleared for submission on January 28, 2005.

How serious is the Naxal threat?

The central government finally recognised the serious security threat posed by the Naxalites. It has decided to provide special battalions of para-military forces to states facing the Naxal menace.

Recent media reports suggest that these Left-wing extremists have presence in as many as 22 states. Intelligence sources have also indicated that they have established contacts with terror groups like ULFA for procurement of arms. There are many Left-wing groups operating in the country but the CPI (Maoist) is considered to be the most prominent among them.

The UPA government had recently declared it a terrorist organisation. The decision of the government has come after details of the lethal power of the group became known to it.

The Maoists are fighting the Indian security forces with sophisticated weapons like Light Machine Guns (LMGs), AK-47s, Self Loading Rifles (SLRs), Mortars, grenades, and land & claymore mines.

The CPI (Maoist) has a fully fledged administrative and military infrastructure to further their goals in Naxal-infested states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra. The group was formed after the merger of CPI-ML and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in 2004.

However, for the first time, shocking details about its structure and internal processes have come to light. The revelations were made by a very senior CPI (Maoist) leader Mihir Besra, who was captured in 2007.

According to the interrogation report of Besra, accessed by NewsX.com, the 9th Congress of the group met in January 2007 in Bihar and many important operational decisions were taken in it. As per Besra’s revelations, the event went on for 10 days and was attended by 100 delegates, including seven women delegates. He even gave the names of all the Politburo and Central Committee members who were present at the meet.

Group structure

The structure of the group based on the information given by Besra is below.

Legends

Eastern Regional Bureau (ERB):

  • AS Units: Lower Assam, Dibrugarh, and Kamrup
  • WB: West Bengal
  • B&J SAC: Bihar & Jharkhand Special Area Committee
  • OR: Orissa
  • CG: Chhattisgarh

Northern Regional Bureau (NRB):

  • DEL: Delhi
  • HAR: Haryana
  • PUN: Punjab
  • UUU (3U): Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttar Bihar

South-West Regional Bureau (SWRB):

  • KN: Karnataka
  • MH: Maharashtra
  • KR: Karnataka
  • TN: Tamil Nadu
  • GJ: Gujarat

Central Regional Bureau (CRB):

  • APSC: Andhra Pradesh State Committee
  • NTSZC: North Telangana Special Zonal Committee
  • AOBSZC: Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee

The Eastern Regional Bureau and the Central Regional Bureau were formed after the Congress. It was decided in the Congress that each regional command will maintain its own action teams, intelligence wing, tech teams, supply mechanism, medical teams and communication teams.

According to the report, the group has also proposed to form base areas in Dandakaranya (North Bastar, South Bastar and Maad), AOB (Malkangiri), Jharkhand (Surrounding areas of Saranda, Palamau, and East Singhbum), Bihar (Koyal, Kaimur), Orissa (Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, and Deogarh), and Bengal (Midnapur and Purulia).

Urban combat

Further, Besra also revealed the member names of various departments of the group and their functions and activities.

One of them, the Central Military Commission (CMC), had nine Central Committee Members in it. Out of that, six were permanent the remaining three were temporary members. According to Besra, the CMC looked after:

  • General Technical Committee
  • Procurement of arms and ammunition,
  • Development and procurement of communication and electronic equipments for PLGA forces.
  • Central Action teams
  • Awam-E-Jung (Published twice a year)
  • Functioning of Regional Commands and PLGA
  • Military Intelligence
  • CIT (Central Military Instructors Team)

CMC’s total budget allocation for two years was Rs 60 crores. Out of this, Rs 2 crore were to be spent on intelligence, Rs 42 crores on arms & ammunition and logistics, Rs 1 crore on tech work, Rs 5 crore on communications, and Rs 10 crore on Central Technical Committee (CTC).

Some of the work done by the members of the CTC include, production of 100 shells, five launchers, 15-20 mortar launchers, and making of gelatine slurry, among others.

The weapons in the possession of the group include:

The CPI (Maoists) also has a fully fledged military intelligence department, which collects the information about the ways to procure arms and ammunition. It also gathers information about targets and studies the strategy adopted by the enemy (read Indian security forces).

The group also has a team of instructors (Central Instructors Team – CIT), which moves in all the states to impart training to its cadres. In a resolution adopted by the CMC, it was decided to form “Urban Combat Teams” wherever necessary.

Important catch

Besra also revealed the group’s assessment of security of police stations in Jharkhand. According to him, the police stations in urban/plain areas are not secure enough. The information points to a possibility of future Maoist attacks in these areas in the state. The interrogation report also details the Maoists plan to raid the police head quarters at Bargarh district in Orissa.

In another interesting revelation, Besra told his interrogators about the high profile targets identified by the group. The CMC has identified H J Dora (former DGP of Andhra Pradesh) and Anil Palta (IPS officer who worked in Bihar and was responsible for the demolition of PW and MCC cadres) as potential targets. Besides them, the Congress leader heading the Salwa Judam movement in Chhattisgarh – Mahendra Karma, is also a target. Other political leaders on the hit-list of the Maoists include Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh, former Jharkhand CM Babulal Marandi, and former Home Minister of Jharkhand Suresh.

The importance of the information provided by Besra can be gauged from the fact that he is a member of the Politburo and permanent member of the CMC. He was also the in-charge of the military intelligence wing of the CMC. Besra lead the CIT and the East Regional Command, besides being a member of the editorial board of Awam-E-Jung.

Besra was a very important catch for the security forces but the Maoists were successful in freeing him in June this year after they struck at the collectorate premises in Bihar’s Lakhisarai district.

The senior Maoists leader was brought to Bihar in connection with a 2007 case. His cadres got this information and around 50 Maoists carried out a planned attack and freed him.

But the wealth of information that Besra gave to his interrogators can be very vital for the security agencies to devise a proper strategy to tackle the Naxal problem.

(The article was published on www.newsx.com on September 01, 2009. You can read it directly by clicking here: http://newsx.com/story/61613)

More Web resources on Naxalism:
Naxal Terror Watch
Left-wing extremist group
India’s forgotten war