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Intelligence Brief: Nepal September 28, 2005

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Nepal, landlocked and bordered by the rising Asian powers of India and China, has become the object of competition among its neighbors as the country has descended into severe instability. The only Hindu kingdom in the world, with a generally impoverished population of 27.7 million people and few strategic resources, Nepal interests New Delhi and Beijing as a geostrategic prize in the new “great game” for spheres of influence in Central Asia. [See: “The ‘Great Game’ Heats Up in Central Asia”]

Except for a brief period of parliamentary government after World War II, Nepal was an absolute monarchy until 1989, when King Birendra, bowing to pressure from a coalition of political parties and social movements, instituted a constitutional monarchy. The new parliamentary system was riven by fractious partisanship, failure of leadership, corruption and the persistence of poverty. In 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (C.P.N.(M.)) abandoned parliamentarism and initiated an armed “people’s war” in the countryside aimed at overthrowing the constitutional monarchy and establishing a “socialist republic.”

The Maoist insurgency gained support among the 80 percent of Nepalese living in rural areas and now is estimated to control up to 70 percent of the countryside. The campaign to suppress the insurgency by the Royal Nepalese Army (R.N.A.) has been marked by brutality and torture on both sides, most recently documented by U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak in a September 16, 2005 press conference following his investigative trip to Nepal.

A further plunge into instability came in February 2005, when King Gyanendra, who had assumed the throne after the heir apparent had killed his parents and himself, dissolved parliament and declared a state of emergency, suspending civil liberties, imposing press censorship and banning opposition demonstrations, in the name of fighting the insurgency more effectively and suppressing corruption. [See: “Sacking the Government Brings International Attention to Nepal”]

Gyanendra’s seizure of absolute power has not calmed Nepal’s political turmoil and has led to international censure, including the withdrawal of military aid to Kathmandu by New Delhi and Washington. On April 30, Gyanendra lifted the state of emergency, but did not surrender control and has not moved to re-establish the parliamentary system. Since then, Nepal has been in a state of political flux, in which the three parties to the domestic conflict — the king, the Maoists and the parliamentary parties — have maneuvered for advantage in an intensely uncertain situation.

Nepalese Instability: Tri-partite Conflict

The crisis precipitated by Gyanendra’s February seizure of absolute power threw the parliamentary parties into the position of either attempting to mount resistance in order to recoup their losses or accepting defeat. Particularly after the king revoked the state of emergency in April, they chose the former, pursuing a three-pronged campaign to delegitimize his rule and render him unable to govern. Forming the same kind of coalition that had forced the institution of a parliamentary system in 1989, they subsumed their rivalries under a common program of restoring democracy.

As Gyanendra remained unyielding, the parliamentary parties radicalized their positions. The crisis ratcheted up to a higher level, when, in late August, the Nepali Congress Party (N.C.P.) — the largest parliamentary grouping, which has close ties to New Delhi — announced that it had decided to delete the goal of achieving a constitutional monarchy from its constitution. The Communist Party of Nepal (U.M.L.), the second biggest grouping, had already abandoned constitutional monarchy for a “democratic republic.”

In response to the parliamentary parties’ break with the monarchy, the Maoist insurgency announced a three-month cease fire and has begun releasing some of its R.N.A. prisoners, although Nepalese media report that it continues to carry out abductions of school teachers and students for “re-education.” Registering a shift in the balance of power, the seven-party parliamentary coalition announced on September 16 that it would form a team to negotiate independently with the Maoists. The coalition made it clear that talks were premised on the insurgency ending violence against civilians and that the Maoists would not be permitted to join the coalition unless they laid down their arms.

Along with abandoning their commitment to monarchy and moving towards the Maoists, the parliamentary parties, with the support of student and other civil-society groups, initiated an ongoing series of street demonstrations in Kathmandu, aimed at forcing Gyanendra to restore democracy, that have attracted up to 7,000 participants and have met with mass arrests — including temporary detention of top party leaders — and often violent suppression by government security forces.

Faced with international isolation, the collaboration of the Maoists and the parliamentary parties and the emergence of “people power,” Gyanendra has held fast to his refusal to institute a cease fire to match the Maoist’s initiative and has urged the parliamentary parties to negotiate with him.

Each actor in the tri-partite conflict is playing a risky game with uncertain results.

The Maoists, who have used previous cease fires to rearm and regroup, are growing increasingly confident that their people’s war strategy of surrounding Nepal’s cities and precipitating urban insurrection is succeeding. Their commitment to a future parliamentary regime is at best suspect.

The parliamentary parties hope to emerge as victors by playing both sides against the middle, counting on the support of New Delhi and its Western allies, and on people power.

Gyanendra is counting on the continued backing of the R.N.A., military aid from Beijing to make up for New Delhi’s suspension and residual popular commitment to the monarchy.

At present, it is impossible to predict who will emerge on top or whether there will eventually be a compromise between two or among all of the parties.

The Bottom Line

New Delhi, which counts Nepal within its sphere of influence — due to its preponderant economic power in the country, cultural affinities and strategic advantages — has been most severely impacted by the crisis. Indian analysts report on a power struggle in New Delhi between the Ministry of External Affairs, which backs the parliamentary parties and their efforts to negotiate with the Maoists, and the Home and Defense Ministries, which place their bets on Gyanendra, fearing a Maoist takeover and a spread of Maoist insurgencies into India, exacerbated by border insecurity. Thus far, New Delhi has chosen to back the parliamentary parties, but there is no assurance that the strategy will succeed or that it can be pursued effectively given intra-governmental conflicts.

As New Delhi faces hard choices, Beijing has seized the opportunity to move in and offer Kathmandu arms deals, one of which has already been signed. Islamabad is rumored to be doing the same. Washington and London have been left with no option but to back New Delhi as they try to pressure Gyanendra to restore constitutional monarchy and accept international mediation to end the Maoist insurgency.

The latest moves in the new great game highlight the uncertainties and shifting opportunity structures that emerge when strategically valuable, weak states begin to implode. Beijing has nothing to lose by backing Gyanendra and will win big if he holds on to power. New Delhi, which allowed the situation to get out of control, faces the possible diminution of its influence. As the crisis has deepened, New Delhi has sent troops to Indian states bordering Nepal to contain an escalated conflict.

Uncertainty is the watchword in Nepal, where much depends on how the parliamentary coalition plays its hand as it seeks to finesse the Maoists and the king.

Report Drafted By:
Dr. Michael A. Weinstein

The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of inquiries@pinr.com. All comments should be directed to content@pinr.com.

Maoists blast Bihar police station September 28, 2005

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Thursday September 29 2005 00:00 IST
IANS

PATNA: Suspected Maoist guerrillas blew up a newly constructed three-storey police station in Bihar, police here said on Wednesday.

The rebels blasted the Parasbigha police station in Jehanabad district with a dynamite late on Tuesday night. No casualties have been reported.

The incident occurred a day after the guerrillas carried out another blast at the Chakand Railway station on the Patna-Gaya section of East Central Railway.

In the latest blast, about 70 rebels of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) surrounded the newly constructed police station, planted a dynamite and blew it up with a remote control, the police said.

They shouted anti-police slogans and left Maoist literature near the explosion site, local people told police.

Maoist rebels had warned that they would target railway and government property to protest police action against their cadres, particularly the arrest of a senior leader a few days ago.

The CPI-Maoist has also called for a boycott of the October-November assembly elections.

Maoists warn people of massacre September 28, 2005

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Thursday September 29 2005 00:00 IST

IANS

RANCHI: Maoist guerrillas in Jharkhand have threatened to kill anyone who helps the government to suppress them.

The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) killed 15 people in Beluwaghati village of Giridih district this month, after the villagers allegedly ganged up against the Maoists.

The villagers had been mobilised by former chief minister Babulal Marandi.

A statement issued by the outlawed CPI-Maoist said: “Anyone who will oppose the CPI-Maoist will meet the fate of the people of Beluwaghati.”

It warned people “not to come under the influence of any politician”. If they did, it said, they should “be ready to face the consequences”.

Maoist guerrillas are active in 16 of the 22 districts in the state. Nearly 530 people, including 210 policemen, have been killed in the state in Maoist linked violence in the last five years.

Naxals withdrew unilaterally from talks says YSR September 28, 2005

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Hyderabad | September 28, 2005 5:51:29 PM IST

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy today said the naxals were responsible for collapse of talks, which the government had initiated, by insisting on carrying weapons.
Paying homage to ruling Congress senior legislator C Narsi Reddy, who along with his son and nine others was gunned down by extremists on Independence Day, Dr Reddy told the Assembly that naxals unilaterally withdrew from the talks.

Asserting that no government could allow a private person to carry weapons, he said peace was possible only when left-wing extremist organisations gave up violence and joined the mainstream of society.

Strongly condemning the killing of the MLA and others at Narayanpet town in Mahaboobnagar district, the Chief Minister said the naxals had resorted to the violent act only to make their presence felt and give a fresh lease of life to the dying movement.

Dr Reddy hit out at VIRASAM (Revolutionary Writers Association) activists for not condemning naxal violence. ”Statements they made after the killing made civilised society bow its head in shame,” he added.

He urged all parties to rise above political considerations and join hands with the government in stamping out naxal violence.

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CPI(ML) opposes political line of Maoists September 28, 2005

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KOLKATA, SEP 27 (PTI)

Admitting that it was a mistake in the late sixties to follow the path of annihilation of ‘class enemies’, formidable naxalite leader and CPI(ML) chief Kanu Sanyal today opposed the political line of the Maoist groups in both India and Nepal.

He told a press conference here that the naxalites in West Bengal had trodden that route in the early sixties and had realised the futility of armed rebellion and killing of individuals.

“There is no political doctrine like Maoism as amply demonstrated by the Chinese leaders. Some doctrines of Mao Zedong were followed in China but what CPI(Maoist) is following is totally different from Maoism,” said Sanyal who gave leadership to the Naxalite movement in West Bengal in the late sixties that had witnessed killings, including that of senior police officials.

“Why are you asking me this question again? I have already made my stand clear. That path we have travelled and we committed mistakes,” he said in response to a question on his stand on the activities of CPI(Maoist).

“Can we end the capitalism by killing a capitalist?” he said.

The veteran naxalite leader said CPI(M) which was heading ruling Left Front in West Bengal was ‘collaborating with the Indian bourgeoise landed class’.

WEST BENGAL : New state force to combat Naxal menace September 28, 2005

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The force, which will be headquartered in Siliguri, will cull personnel from police and other govt agencies.
Express News Service

Kolkata, September 27: Alarmed at the Naxalite violence in the state, the Government has decided to raise a force called the India Battalion Reserve Force.

The force will have the daunting task to tackle the menace which has claimed the lives of around 20 policemen in the state so far.

This has been decided at a state Cabinet meeting held today with Chief Minister Budhadeb Bhattacharjee chairing it.

The proposal was sent by the state home department, again headed by the Chief Minister. Earlier, the proposal got the Cabinet nod.

An amount of Rs 13 crore will be spent on the new force. The amount will be also shouldered by the Central Government, according to the Cabinet documents made available to Newsline.

The headquarters of the armed force will be at Siliguri in north Bengal.

In the first phase, 1,101 personnel who will be scouted from both the state police and other Government agencies, will be recruited for the force. There will be fresh appointments, too, the papers revealed.

Other decisions taken at the meeting today included setting up five new degree colleges in the state. The places where the colleges are going to be set up are: Kultoli in South 24 Parganas, Lalgola in Murshidabad, Keshpur and Goaltore in West Midnapore district and Pandaveshar in Murshidabad district.

The Cabinet has also given its nod to the bifurcation of Keshpur police station of West Midnapore district. There will be a new police station called Anandapur which has been carved out of the Keshpur PS.

Maoist rebels blow up a railway station in Bihar September 28, 2005

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Gaya | September 27, 2005 4:19:44 PM IST

Maoist rebels in Bihar blew up a railway station after alerting passengers to flee, officials said on Tuesday.

The explosion was so powerful that the waiting room, booking office and a newly constructed building of the station was turned to debris.

“At around 11.30 p.m. (Monday) we heard a loud noise and got to know that the whole area was blown up,” said Mahesh, an eyewitness.

The rebels, who say they are fighting for the rights of peasants and landless labourers in the country’s rural hinterland, pasted a notice on the walls of the station in Bihar’s Gaya District, asked police and paramilitary forces to end operations against them, police said.

“They have left this notice at the site of the incident which makes it clear that this attack has been carried out by Maoists,” said Vinod Kumar Singh, Inspector of Government Railway Police, the provincial force to police railway network.

Security forces have launched a crackdown against the estimated 2,000 rebels in the state, which will vote for a new assembly in four-phased polls in October-November.

Analysts say the federal government should adopt a national policy to tackle the Maoist problem instead of allowing states to deal with it.

Thousands have died in three decades of Maoist insurgency across eight states. Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttaranchal, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. Rebels have killed politicians and policemen and blasted factories and government offices.

Maoist rebels in Nepal fighting to overthrow the nation’s monarchy and their Indian counterparts have recently vowed to join together to promote communism, stoking fears the insurgency in the Himalayan kingdom could spillover.

Analysts say the rebels aim to build a red corridor from Nepal to Karnataka, home to India’s technology capital, Bangalore.

According to India’s home ministry, there are about 9,300 Maoists in the country and leftist violence accounts for “about 91 percent of the nationwide violence and 89 percent of the resultant deaths”.

At least 6,000 people have been killed in Maoist violence since it first began over two decades ago.

Monday night’s blast comes just a week after the Home Ministry undertook a security review of nine states hit frequently by Naxalites, and it was then decided as a preliminary strategy, that there was a need to give more freedom to the two joint task forces appointed in June to cross state boundaries to curtail the impact of these menacing ultras.

At the meeting, which was chaired by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, some of the state chief ministers reportedly expressed concern over the spread of the naxalite activities in newer areas other than the nine states classified as naxalite-affected.

Bihar Governor Buta Singh, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, Orissa Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, Karnataka Chief Minister Dharam Singh, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Babulal Gaur, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda were present at the meeting. Home Secretaries of all the concerned states were also present.

Informed sources said then that an agreement had been reached to set up two inter-state joint task forces for gathering and sharing of tactical intelligence will undertake synergised and coordinated joint operations, including hot pursuit across state boundaries against the Naxal leaders and cadres.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had convened the meeting ollowing intelligence reports of escalation in extremists iolence in many parts of the country. The immediate rovocation for the Home Ministry to have such an exercise was the recent Naxalite violence in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. (ANI)

Naxal-scarred Tripura residents demand Army protection September 28, 2005

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Hazaripada, Tripura | September 27, 2005 2:08:47 PM IST

After the brutal killing of eight people in Tripura by Naxals on Sunday, people residing in the area have started demanding tight security for their village.

Activists of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), which has been fighting for an independent tribal homeland, fired indiscriminately with automatic weapons when they raided Hazaripada, some 90 km east of Agartala, the state capital.

Ramni Mohan Devnath, a resident, described the Naxal and militant threat has a situation that had recurred frequently in the past.

“This has happened a number of times. In the year 1998 and 1999, there were lots of people who used to reside in this area but now only few are left. We are always tensed and we demand a camp of paramilitary forces for our security,” said Ramni Mohan Devnath.

All the victims who were attacked by the Naxals were from the majority Bengali-speaking community in Tripura which borders Bangladesh.

An extensive combing operation in the area was launched by contingent of the police and the Tripura State Rifles soon after the killing. (ANI)

Extremists blow up police station building September 28, 2005

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Jehanabad | September 27, 2005 12:41:41 PM IST

Proscribed CPI(Maoist) activists have blown up the newly constructed building of Paras Bigha police station under Naxal dominated Jehanabad district of Bihar.

Police sources said over one hundred CPI(Maoist) activists converged on the deserted police station building last night and blew it up using dynamite.

The extremists left the site raising slogans decrying ”police atrocities” and hailing their own organisation, sources said, adding that adjoining areas of the village had been sealed and a massive manhunt launched to nab the culprits.

UNI XC-BNG RH AKP1227

A Breed Of Their Own – Indian Communists! September 24, 2005

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Indian communists are truely a unique breed of humans, disjoint to all things logical. The communist ideology can actually be compared with fundamentalism.

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Communism Watch: A Breed Of Their Own – Indian Communists!