There is now significant cumulative evidence that Uttar Pradesh (UP), a crucial state in more ways than one, is currently facing threats from multiple sources of subversion.
A report, prepared by the Additional Director General of Police, Padman Singh, on November 27, 2006, details terrorist-related crimes in 17 of UP’s 70 districts. The affected districts are: Meerut, Kheri, Lucknow, Aligarh, Gorakhpur, Agra, Jhansi, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Fatehpur, Rampur, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Bijnor, Faizabad, Jaunpur and Varanasi. Geographically, terrorist groups have reportedly infiltrated into all the regions of the state. The report elaborates further that recent trends demonstrate the involvement of technically qualified youth in terrorist activity. Trends also indicate "ability to operate autonomously in small cells, deadly use of explosive devices, careful selection of soft and hard targets and willingness to inflict mass casualties."
Earlier, on November 24, 2006, the Inspector General of Police of the Special Task Force (STF) in UP, Jagmohan
Yadav, stated that UP had emerged as one of the major centres of the activities of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its proxy terrorist groups in India. Yadav disclosed that ISI-trained Indian ‘sleeper modules’ had even infiltrated small towns of the
state, adding that both the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had spread their tentacles in UP, with Meerut, Almorah, Baghpat, Phoolpur and several other cities emerging as hubs of ISI activities. The trend has been noted by others who follow terrorism closely, and,
as Praveen Swami noted in March 2006: "Since 2001, Uttar Pradesh has seen the interdiction of at least 22 cells linked to Pakistan-based jehadi groups, in operations which led to the elimination of 10 terrorists, mainly Pakistani nationals, and 34 arrests."
The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), formed on April 25, 1977, at Aligarh in UP, is currently regarded as having a national presence. SIMI is alleged to be involved in the October 2005, Delhi serial bomb blasts; the July 11, 2006, Mumbai serial train blasts; and the September 8, 2006, Malegaon serial blasts. SIMI, with a strong base in UP’s universities, reportedly provides logistic support to groups like the LeT, JeM and Harkat-ul-Jehad-al Islami Bangladesh (HuJI-B). It is believed to enjoy the support of a segment of the Muslim populace in cities such as Kanpur, Rampur, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Lucknow and Azamgarh in UP. Official sources are reported to have identified nine districts in UP, where SIMI is suspected to be engaged in subversive activities – Lucknow, Kanpur, Aligarh, Agra, Faizabad, Bahraich, Barabanki, Lakhimpur Kheri and Azamgarh. A continuous recruitment drive by SIMI cadres has also been noticed in the Jaunpur, Allahabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Ambedkar Nagar, Aligarh, Azamgarh, Sonauli, Ferozabad and Hathras areas of UP.
There are at least some indications of political collusion or at least reluctance on the part of the state government to take action against SIMI activists. Speaking in the state legislative assembly on August 23, 2006, the UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav ruled out the involvement of the SIMI in recent terrorist attacks in the state. Earlier, on July 13, 2006, he had said that the SIMI was not active in the state and there was no evidence of its involvement in any unlawful activity during his regime and that even though union government had banned the organisation, as far as its existence in UP was concerned, it would be improper to initiate action without evidence.
Electoral considerations, clearly, appear to be influencing the state government, where a
state Home Department spokesperson stated in May 2006 that since the organisation was not involved in "any activities" and neither had UP received any complaint against SIMI, it would not support the continuation of the ban. Further, in the first week of June 2006, the Sunni Central Waqf Board in UP appointed Mohammad Ismail Syed Shareef, a leather industrialist and a known SIMI sympathizer, as the caretaker and manager of Kanpur city's oldest and biggest seminary — the Jaam-e-Uloom. And the
state government successfully moved an application in a district court in Baharaich seeking withdrawal of cases against SIMI chief Shahid Badar Falah, which, on September 6, 2006, granted permission to withdraw a treason case against him and 11 other members of the outfit. Further, SAIR had noted in July 2006
Mohammad Aamir, the chief of SIMI's Uttar Pradesh state unit and the prime accused in the Kanpur riots of March 16, surrendered before a metropolitan magistrate on April 25 after spending a night with the police. Before the media could get a whiff of the surrender, Aamir, who is believed to have spent almost a year in terrorist training camps in Bangladesh, was ensconced in the barracks of Kanpur jail. With pressure to act against Aamir mounting, the surrender proved a convenient way out for the state government, after an earlier plan for his surrender in March was aborted on grounds of political expediency.
Prominent among incidents of Pakistan-backed Islamist subversion in UP in 2006 were:
February 1: LeT activist, Zubeid, and a suspected ISI agent, Kuer Singh Yadav, were arrested from Varanasi.
March 7: At least 21 civilians were killed and 62 injured in three serial bomb explosions at the Sankat Mochan temple and the railway station in Varanasi. Seven bombs were later defused, including four that had been planted on the Gowdolia-Dasashwamedh Ghat Road near the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Hours after the blasts in Varanasi, a suspected LeT terrorist was shot dead in an encounter with the police in Gosaiganj area on the outskirts of Lucknow city.
April 5: Police arrested HuJI cadre, Wali Ullah, a mastermind of the March 7-serial blasts in Varanasi, and five of his accomplices, Mehboob Ali, Syed Shuaib Hussain, Farhan, Mohammad Rizwan Siddique and Mohammad Saad Ali, from different parts of Uttar
September 13: An alleged ISI agent, Tasneem, was arrested by the Anti-Terrorist Force in connection with the September 8-bomb blasts in Malegaon.
December 28: Police arrested two alleged ISI agents, Abdul Shakoor and Adeel Anjum alias Adil, and disclosed that both had entered India after receiving training in Pakistan. The duo, residents of Multan in Pakistan, was arrested from Kaiserbagh in Lucknow.
In all, 46 incidents of reported subversion in UP have been documented by SAIR between April 2001-December 2006. Nevertheless, the Samajwadi Party-led UP government remains in a denial mode, and has sought to brush SIMI’s role and activities under the carpet.
UP is also engulfed by the Maoist problem, which now affects the length and breadth of India. Although the fatalities in Maoist-violence are negligible (2 Maoists killed in 2006, 1 civilian and 6 Maoists in 2005), the arrests and seizures in the state are a pointer of the deeply entrenched Maoist presence in the state. At least seven districts of the state are now affected, in varying degrees, by left-wing extremism. Although the casualties in Maoist violence over the past years have been low, the Maoist presence in the eastern districts bordering Bihar has been a cause for concern for some time now. 26 villages of the Gorakhpur division have been identified as Maoist-affected, 25 of these in Deoria district and one in Kushinagar district, and a list of 680 Maoist-affected villages across the state has been handed over to the state government after a survey. In addition to the 26 in Gorakhpur division, there are 226 villages in Chandauli, 88 in Mirzapur, 254 in Sonbhadra, 33 in Ghazipur, 54 in Ballia and two in Mau district, which affected by significant Maoist activities.
The significant incidents involving Maoists in UP during 2006 included:
January 3, 2006: 'Sub-zonal area commander' of the CPI-Maoist, Bhola Pal alias Rakesh, was arrested from Alinagar in Varanasi.
February 12, 2006: An ‘area commander’ of the CPI-Maoist, Sukhari Chaudhary, was arrested from Naikaha village in Sonebhadra district.
March 25, 2006: Mahangu alias Chiru, a Maoist 'Deputy Area Commander', was arrested near Karail Bandhi village in Sonebhadra district.
March 25: The police recovered 250 kilograms of explosive material and 1,500 detonators from a jeep in the Lalganj area of Mirzapur district.
March 30, 2006: An ‘area commander’ of the CPI-Maoist, Giri Nath Kol, was killed in an encounter with the police at Varanasi.
August 31, 2006: The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Janashakti or CPI (ML) Janashakti ‘Central Committee secretary’ and four other ‘state Committee’ leaders of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and UP were arrested from a bus stand in the Barabanki district.
October 12, 2006: Pappu Bind, a criminal from Bihar linked with the erstwhile Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), was killed near the railway track in the Lahartara area in Varanasi.
The porous Indo-Nepal border along the North Eastern reaches of the state has been a major factor in the activities of subversive forces that are currently targeting UP. According to official sources, these elements receive full support from the ISI, which operates through its Embassy at Kathmandu and has several transit bases in Nepal. On December 28, 2006, for instance, the UP Police arrested two Pakistani nationals linked to the ISI, Abdul Shakur and Adil Anjum alias Adil, at Qaiserbagh in Lucknow. Both had entered the state via Nepal, and possessed Indian passports. Vital documents regarding the Indian Army, passports, a cellular phone, a driving license issued from Lucknow district, a Income Tax Permanent Account Number (PAN) card and a handwritten coding chart, were recovered from their possession. Earlier, on April 7, the UP Police and Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested a LeT terrorist from the Ateria Railway Station in Sitapur district, while he was attempting to cross over to Nepal.
On the Left Wing Extremist front, ranking leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN (M)], Matrika Prasad Yadav and Suresh Bahadur Ale Magar, were arrested in Lucknow and subsequently handed over to Nepalese immigration authorities of the far-western region on February 8, 2004. The union ministry of home affairs in its 2006 Annual Report disclosed that 180 CPN-M leaders and cadres had been arrested from different parts of India over the preceding five years, adding further that 140 of these had been arrested between 2001 and 2004 while 40 were arrested in 2005. The Report also noted that Nepali Maoists frequently visited the Indian states of Bihar and UP for medical treatment.
On November 4, 2006, the union minister of state for home, Sriprakash Jaiswal, stated in Gorakhpur that Pakistani militants were using Nepal as a hideout and base for sneaking into India. Pakistani terrorists, he noted, have "found a safe hideout in Nepal and it is a safe passage for coming to India." According to a paper prepared by the union home ministry on the internal security situation, the Pakistan-based LeT and JeM were using territory and elements in Bangladesh and Nepal for movement of terrorists and finances to India. Further, Army Chief General J.J. Singh said on December 27, 2006, "As terrorists are finding it hard to penetrate the fence and new anti-infiltration systems placed all along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and in Punjab… The areas bordering Nepal and Bangladesh are still porous and intelligence reports suggest that terrorists are trying to use them to infiltrate into India."
These various factors underline the significant and rising threat of subversive forces in UP, emanating from both within the
state and outside the country. It is useful to note that such subversion occurs in a milieu of a broad retreat of
governance, marked by high levels of the breakdown in law and order in the state. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, UP reported the highest incidence of violent crimes in 2005, accounting for 12.5 percent of total violent crimes in the country (25,352 out of 2,02,640). UP also reported 17.5 per cent (5,711 out of 32,719) of total Murder cases in the country, and 20.1 percent (5,637 out of 28,031) total Attempt to Murder cases.
With elections due in the summer of 2007, and a continuous exacerbation of political rhetoric on the issue of law and order, security and subversion, on the one hand, and efforts at the mobilization of narrow caste and communal ‘vote banks’, this communally sensitive, largest and most populous state can only face more troubling times ahead.
Ajit Kumar Singh is Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management Courtesy, the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal