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Death of Secularism

Indian spy agency, R&AW is doing all its best to convert India into a purely Hindu state under the guidance and command of Mr. Modi.

by Ali Sukhanver

In a recent write up appeared in the East Asia Forum, Robin Jeffry said, “From a young age, Modi has been a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu-supremacist organization whose inspiration stems from Italian fascism of the 1920s. The social and cultural goals of the RSS call for the creation of a state in which the strong central rule of a Hindu supremacist party and its leader bring about the rebirth of a golden Hindu civilization.” Robin Jeffrey is Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University and La Trobe University. Whatever thoughts he expressed in his write-up are very logical and rational. Mr. Modi is no doubt working very hard for changing the Indian society into a purely Hindu society; a society where no community belonging to some other religious school of thought would be allowed to survive. If all goes well according to the RSS desires and the planning of the BJP under the guidance and command of Mr. Modi, we would find not even a single Sikh, Muslim or even a Christian in the country in the next twenty years. Demolition of ancient mosques, Churches and Gurdwaras and their conversion into Hindu temples seems first step to that destination.

File photo of Prime Minister Modi during his time with RSS

On 9th February 2024, according to the Aljazeera, at least five people were killed and dozens others injured during a protest sparked by the demolition of a mosque and of a religious school in India’s northern state of Uttarakhand. Reports say that on 8th February, these buildings in Haldwani Town were bulldozed by the Municipal authorities without issuing any prior notices. On the other hand the government officials blamed that the two buildings were built without getting proper permission. But the local people are of the opinion that in Haldwani Town not even a single building is constructed after getting permission from the Municipal authorities as it is a very old area. They say that if it were a building of a Mandir, it would never have been demolished so ruthlessly. Whatever is being done against the worship-places of religious minorities in India, is the part of an ‘officially- supervised’ move against the minorities there; it is not the result of any ‘hatred’ among different communities as Hinduism never preaches hatred; it is simply the result of an effort of winning the political-battle by using religion as a weapon.


In the first week of May 2023, the Indian state of Manipur witnessed a horrible wave of violent attacks on churches which resulted in demolition, destruction and even burning of around 249 churches in just first 36 hours.Archbishop Lumon expressed his deep grief over ‘the silence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the cluelessness of interior minister Amit Shah and indecisiveness of the local government’ regarding that wave of violence. Same were the reservations of Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church with reference to the dumbness of the authorities. He said, “It is shameful that even though Christian churches have been destroyed and thousands have been left homeless, those at the helm of the administration are still not ready to condemn such activities or reject the rioters.”

Reports say that it is the R&AW behind all such brutal activities and this organization is under the direct command of the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi. Even in India people say that R&AW no more means The Research & Analysis Wing, it is the Rogue Assassins Wing of the BJP. The recent assassination plot of US citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is the worst example of the heinous activities of this organization. According to a report published in the Aljazeera, the US Justice Department accused in a statement that an Indian government official was the mastermind behind the assassination plan of US citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York. The report said, “The suggestions from US officials that India might have been involved in an attempt at an extrajudicial killing on the soil of a friendly nation come six months after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused New Delhi of involvement in the assassination of another Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, near Vancouver.” The New York-based lawyer, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is a dual US-Canadian citizen. He is the legal counsel and spokesman for Sikhs for Justice, a US-based Sikh separatist group. His murder plan was exposed last year in November.

Whereas Hardeep Singh Nijjar was an Indian born in the district of Jalandhar. In 1997, he moved to Canada and soon made a name for himself as a vocal advocate for the creation of Khalistan. The BBC said about him in a report that ‘he was a peaceful advocate for Sikh independence and a man who cared deeply about his community.’ He was shot and killed by two gunmen wearing dark clothes with hoods outside a Sikh temple in a Vancouver suburb on a June summer evening last year. After a very deep and detailed investigation, the government of Canada accused India of being linked to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. It was also officially stated that the murder of a Sikh leader on Canadian soil might fuel a significant rift between the two countries. Hardeep was murdered, reports say, that at the time of his death, he had been planning a non-binding referendum for Sikhs living in British Columbia. The demand of that referendum was the creation of Khalistan; an independent Sikh state in India. In short, the R&AW is doing all its best to convert India into a purely Hindu state under the guidance and command of Mr. Modi. It seems a matter of just a few years that we would not find even a single Muslim, Sikh or Christian living an honourable life in that Hindu society.
 
The writer is an Associate Professor of English at Govt College of Science, Multan

Property and Debt in Ancient Rome

The Roman concept of property is essentially creditor-oriented. As Rome’s power grew, practices quickly became predatory.

by Michael Hudson

Traditional societies usually had restrictions to prevent self-support land from being alienated outside of the family or clan. By holding that the essence of private property is its ability to be sold or forfeited irreversibly, Roman law removed the archaic checks to foreclosure that prevented property from being concentrated in the hands of the few. This Roman concept of property is essentially creditor-oriented, and quickly became predatory.

Rome, Italy, [ Photo: Federico Di Dio photography/ Unsplash]

Roman land tenure was based increasingly on the appropriation of conquered territory, which was declared public land, the ager publicus populi. The normal practice was to settle war veterans on it, but the wealthiest and most aggressive families grabbed such land for themselves in violation of early law.

Patricians Versus the Poor

The die was cast in 486 BC. After Rome defeated the neighboring Hernici, a Latin tribe, and took two-thirds of their land, the consul Spurius Cassius proposed Rome’s first agrarian law. It called for giving half the conquered territory back to the Latins and half to needy Romans, who were also to receive public land that patricians had occupied. But the patricians accused Cassius of “building up a power dangerous to liberty” by seeking popular support and “endangering the security” of their land appropriation. After his annual term was over he was charged with treason and killed. His house was burned to the ground to eradicate memory of his land proposal.

The fight over whether patricians or the needy poor would be the main recipients of public land dragged on for twelve years. In 474 the commoners’ tribune, Gnaeus Genucius, sought to bring the previous year’s consuls to trial for delaying the redistribution proposed by Cassius. He was blocked by that year’s two consuls, Lucius Furius and Gaius Manlius, who said that decrees of the Senate were not permanent law, “but measures designed to meet temporary needs and having validity for one year only.” The Senate could renege on any decree that had been passed.

A century later, in 384, M. Manlius Capitolinus, a former consul (in 392) was murdered for defending debtors by trying to use tribute from the Gauls and to sell public land to redeem their debts, and for accusing senators of embezzlement and urging them to use their takings to redeem debtors. It took a generation of turmoil and poverty for Rome to resolve matters. In 367 the Licinio-Sextian law limited personal landholdings to 500 iugera (125 hectares, under half a square mile). Indebted landholders were permitted to deduct interest payments from the principal and pay off the balance over three years instead of all at once.

Latifundia

Most wealth throughout history has been obtained from the public domain, and that is how Rome’s latifundia were created. The most fateful early land grab occurred after Carthage was defeated in 204 BC. Two years earlier, when Rome’s life and death struggle with Hannibal had depleted its treasury, the Senate had asked families to voluntarily contribute their jewelry or other precious belongings to help the war effort. Their gold and silver was melted down in the temple of Juno Moneta to strike the coins used to hire mercenaries.

Upon the return to peace the aristocrats depicted these contributions as having been loans, and convinced the Senate to pay their claims in three installments. The first was paid in 204, and a second in 202. As the third and final installment was coming due in 200, the former contributors pointed out that Rome needed to keep its money to continue fighting abroad but had much public land available. In lieu of cash payment they asked the Senate to offer them land within fifty miles of Rome, and to tax it at only a nominal rate. A precedent for such privatization had been set in 205 when Rome sold valuable land in the Campania to provide Scipio with money to invade Africa.

The recipients were promised that “when the people should become able to pay, if anyone chose to have his money rather than the land, he might restore the land to the state.” Nobody did, of course. “The private creditors accepted the terms with joy; and that land was called Trientabulum because it was given in lieu of the third part of their money.”

Most of the Central Italian lowlands ended up as latifundia cultivated by slaves captured in the wars against Carthage and Macedonia and imported en masse after 198. This turned the region into predominantly a country of underpopulated slave-plantations as formerly free peoples were driven off the land into overpopulated industrial towns. In 194 and again in 177 the Senate organized a program of colonization that sent about 100,000 peasants, women and children from central Italy to more than twenty colonies, mainly in the far south and north of Italy.

The Gracchi and the Land Commission

In 133, Tiberius Gracchus advocated distributing ager publicus to the poor, pointing out that this would “increase the number of property holders liable to serve in the army.” He was killed by angry senators who wanted the public land for themselves. Nonetheless, a land commission was established in Italy in 128, “and apparently succeeded in distributing land to several thousand citizens” in a few colonies, but not any land taken from Rome’s own wealthy elite. The commission was abolished around 119 after Tiberius’s brother Gaius Gracchus was killed.

Civil War and Landless Soldiers

Appian describes the ensuing century of civil war as being fought over the land and debt crisis:

“For the rich, getting possession of the greater part of the undistributed lands, and being emboldened by the lapse of time to believe that they would never be dispossessed, absorbing any adjacent strips and their poor neighbors’ allotments, partly by purchase under persuasion and partly by force, came to cultivate vast tracts instead of single estates, using slaves as laborers and herdsmen, lest free laborers should be drawn from agriculture into the army. At the same time the ownership of slaves brought them great gain from the multitude of their progeny, who increased because they were exempt from military service. Thus certain powerful men became extremely rich and the race of slaves multiplied throughout the country, while the Italian people dwindled in number and strength, being oppressed by penury, taxes and military service.”

Dispossession of free labor from the land transformed the character of Rome’s army. Starting with Marius, landless soldiers became soldati, living on their pay and seeking the highest booty, loyal to the generals in charge of paying them. Command of an army brought economic and political power. When Sulla brought his troops back to Italy from Asia Minor in 82 and proclaimed himself Dictator, he tore down the walls of towns that had opposed him, and kept them in check by resettling 23 legions (some 80,000 to 100,000 men) in colonies on land confiscated from local populations in Italy.

Sulla drew up proscription lists of enemies who could be killed with impunity, with their estates seized as booty. Their names were publicly posted throughout Italy in June 81, headed by the consuls for the years 83 and 82, and about 1,600 equites (wealthy publican investors). Thousands of names followed. Anyone on these lists could be killed at will, with the executioner receiving a portion of the dead man’s estate. The remainder was sold at public auctions, the proceeds being used to rebuild the depleted treasury. Most land was sold cheaply, giving opportunists a motive to kill not only those named by Sulla, but also their personal enemies, to acquire their estates. A major buyer of confiscated real estate was Crassus, who became one of the richest Romans through Sulla’s proscriptions.

By giving his war veterans homesteads and funds from the proscriptions, Sulla won their support as a virtual army in reserve, along with their backing for his new oligarchic constitution. But they were not farmers, and ran into debt, in danger of losing their land. For his more aristocratic supporters, Sulla distributed the estates of his opponents from the Italian upper classes, especially in Campania, Etruria and Umbria.

Caesar likewise promised to settle his army on land of their own. They followed him to Rome and enabled him to become Dictator in 49. After he was killed in 44, Brutus and Cassius vied with Octavian (later Augustus), each promising their armies land and booty. As Appian summarized: “The chiefs depended on the soldiers for the continuance of their government, while, for the possession of what they had received, the soldiers depend on the permanence of the government of those who had given it. Believing that they could not keep a firm hold unless the givers had a strong government, they fought for them, from necessity, with good-will.” After defeating the armies of Brutus, Cassius and Mark Antony, Octavian gave his indigent soldiers “land, the cities, the money, and the houses, and as the object of denunciation on the part of the despoiled, and as one who bore this contumely for the army’s sake.”

Empire of Debt

The concentration of land ownership intensified under the Empire. By the time Christianity became the Roman state religion, North Africa had become the main source of Roman wealth, based on “the massive landholdings of the emperor and of the nobility of Rome.” Its overseers kept the region’s inhabitants “underdeveloped by Roman standards. Their villages were denied any form of corporate existence and were frequently named after the estates on which the villagers worked, held to the land by various forms of bonded labor.”

A Christian from Gaul named Salvian described the poverty and insecurity confronting most of the population ca. 440:

“Faced by the weight of taxes, poor farmers found that they did not have the means to emigrate to the barbarians. Instead, they did what little they could do: they handed themselves over to the rich as clients in return for protection. The rich took over title to their lands under the pretext of saving the farmers from the land tax. The patron registered the farmer’s land on the tax rolls under his (the patron’s) own name. Within a few years, the poor farmers found themselves without land, although they were still hounded for personal taxes. Such patronage by the great, so Salvian claimed, turned free men into slaves as surely as the magic of Circe had turned humans into pigs.”

The Church as a Corporate Power

Church estates became islands in this sea of poverty. As deathbed confessions and donations of property to the Church became increasingly popular among wealthy Christians, the Church came to accept existing creditor and debtor relationships, land ownership, hereditary wealth and the political status quo. What mattered to the Church was how the ruling elites used their wealth; how they obtained it was not important as long as it was destined for the Church, whose priests were the paradigmatic “poor” deserving of aid and charity.

The Church sought to absorb local oligarchies into its leadership, along with their wealth. Testamentary disposition undercut local fiscal balance. Land given to the Church was tax-exempt, obliging communities to raise taxes on their secular property in order to maintain their flow of public revenue. (Many heirs found themselves disinherited by such bequests, leading to a flourishing legal practice of contesting deathbed wills.) The Church became the major corporate body, a sector alongside the state. Its critique of personal wealth focused on personal egotism and self-indulgence, nothing like the socialist idea of public ownership of land, monopolies, and banking. In fact, the Crusades led the Church to sponsor Christendom’s major secular bankers to finance its wars against the Holy Roman Emperors, Moslems, and Byzantine Sicily.

This article was produced by Human Bridges.

Michael Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He is the author of Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (Editions 1968, 2003, 2021), ‘and forgive them their debts’ (2018), J is for Junk Economics (2017), Killing the Host (2015), The Bubble and Beyond (2012), Trade, Development and Foreign Debt

Pakistan’s Role in India’s Elections

Indian ministers accuse Pakistan of terrorism, hinting at potential military action, leveraging ambiguity for political gain

by Kazi Anwarul Masud

INDIA’S ROLE IN EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS

Recently the Guardian reported on allegations that India’s government had orchestrated as many as 20 extrajudicial killings in Pakistan since 2020, targeting suspected terrorists. The allegations may give ammunition to critics abroad concerned about signals of India’s increasing willingness to resort to carrying out assassinations overseas, following developments in Canada and the United States last year. But at home, with national elections set to begin next week, the Guardian report will provide a boost to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It validates the ruling party’s boasts about taking a tough line on Pakistan, which play well politically in India.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to his supporters as he arrives to attend a rally in Guwahati, India, February 4, 2024. [ Photo: REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika/File Photo]

DOES PAKISTAN AID ANTI-INDIAN MILITANT GROUPS?

The report also validates long-standing claims by India, as well as the United States, that Pakistan sponsors or at least gives free rein to militant groups within its borders. In February 2019, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a Pakistan-based terrorist group, attacked a military convoy in Indian-administered Kashmir, killing 40 soldiers. India retaliated with airstrikes against what it said were terrorist bases in Pakistan. The crisis became a dominant theme during India’s elections that year. The BJP slammed Pakistan and accused the political opposition of helping Islamabad by demanding proof that the Indian strikes hit their stated targets.

PAKISTAN’S ANTI-INDIAN ATTITUDE HELPED NARENDRA MODI TO WIN ELECTION

The BJP handily won the 2019 vote, and India has since maintained a hard line against its neighbor and rival. Its decision to revoke the special autonomous status of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 was excoriated by Pakistan. Despite a 2021 border truce, Modi has largely refused to engage with Islamabad during his second term. And India has conditioned formal dialogue on Pakistan taking action against terrorists on its soil who target India. Unsurprisingly, BJP leaders have returned to the 2019 crisis on the campaign trail this year. This week, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath declared that Pakistan is “frightened” because “they know that the new India … storms into their country through airstrikes and kills terrorists.” Tellingly, India has said little about the Guardian report. Local media have quoted the External Affairs Ministry saying that allegations of extrajudicial killings are “false and malicious anti-India propaganda,” only repeating previous statements. But when questioned directly about the latest allegations, senior Indian officials have not denied them.

This week, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar spoke of Western media bias and blamed Pakistan for harboring terrorists. But Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said that if “terrorists run away to Pakistan, we will enter Pakistan to kill them.” This ambiguous response will likely reap political benefits. It encourages voters to respond to the allegations in one of two ways: to reject them as Western propaganda against the BJP or to accept them as proof of the ruling party’s muscular tactics against Pakistani threats. The Guardian report helps the BJP politically in other ways.

First, it counters criticism—often voiced by the opposition—that India’s strength abroad is compromised by its struggle to counter growing Chinese threats, from border incursions to naval power projection. Some Modi critics may also applaud India taking out terrorists in Pakistan; counterterrorism is a decidedly less divisive issue among the electorate than the BJP’s Hindu nationalism. Given his popularity and the weak and divided opposition, Modi is poised to win a third straight term this year and doesn’t seem to need another political gift. Still, anything helps, and the BJP can exploit the latest report to back up its claims of acting with strength abroad to advance its security interests and to showcase its tough stance against Pakistan. Her Power 2024 is here! On April 18th explore how economic empowerment for women is economic empowerment for the world.

PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER VISITS SAUDI ARABIA

Recently Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Saudi Arabia, marking his first overseas trip since returning to power in March. Saudi Arabia is one of Pakistan’s closest allies, although the relationship hasn’t always been easy. In 2020, the two sides sparred over Riyadh’s position on the Kashmir dispute, and India’s growing ties with Saudi Arabia pose a challenge as well. But currently, ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are warm, and Sharif’s trip went well. The visit yielded a significant commitment to expedite a $5 billion investment package to Pakistan. Islamabad’s Special Investment Facilitation Council has prioritized securing funding from the Arab Gulf states, which will be a major focus of the Sharif era: Both he and his brother, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, have close personal ties to Saudi Arabia. The Pakistani economy has recently stabilized a bit. Although inflation remains high, it has come down in recent months, and an International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal last year gave the economy some breathing room. Additional IMF funds will likely be released in the coming weeks. But debt remains high, and Pakistan’s currency continues to perform poorly—making Saudi funding even more important. Indian court rejects opposition appeal.

ARVIND KEJIWAL’S APPEAL REJECTED BY DELHI HIGH COURT

 Delhi High Court rejected an appeal against the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi and an opposition leader with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which governs nearby Punjab as well. Kejriwal was detained last month on corruption charges, which the AAP and other opposition groups have rejected. The court said Kejriwal’s arrest “cannot be termed as illegal.” In a separate ruling last week, Kejriwal was ordered to be kept in jail until April 15, four days before India’s elections begin. The AAP, which has two other top leaders detained on similar charges, reacted angrily to Tuesday’s news and has vowed to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, India’s largest opposition party, the Indian National Congress, is dealing with its own travails, including heavy penalties for tax violations, which the party has rejected as a state attempt to weaken its finances before the elections. These moves, which critics say undermine India’s electoral playing field, are unlikely to hurt Modi at the polls.

Kazi Anwarul Masud is a retired Bangladeshi diplomat. During his tenure, he worked in several countries as the ambassador of Bangladesh including Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Germany

Singapore Prime Minister to Step Down after 20 years of Service

Lee said leadership transition is a significant moment for any country.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Monday he will step down on May 15 after nearly 20 years of heading the government of the economically prosperous country as part of the long-planned leadership transition and will be succeeded by his deputy Lawrence Wong. Lee is handing over the reins later than intended, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and after a hiccup in succession plans. Lee, 72, was sworn in as Singapore’s third Prime Minister on August 12, 2004.

Lee Hsien Loong [ Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images]

In a Facebook post, Lee said leadership transition is a significant moment for any country. “Last November, I announced my intention to step down as Prime Minister this year. I will relinquish my role as Prime Minister on May 15, 2024, and DPM (Deputy Prime Minister) Lawrence Wong will be sworn in as the next Prime Minister on the same day. “For any country, a leadership transition is a significant moment. Lawrence and the 4G team (fourth generation) have worked hard to gain the people’s trust, notably during the pandemic. Through the Forward Singapore exercise, they have worked with many Singaporeans to refresh our social compact and develop the national agenda for a new generation,” he said.

“The 4G team are committed to keeping Singapore working well and moving ahead. These will always be top priorities for the government. I ask all Singaporeans to give Lawrence and his team your full support, and work with them to create a brighter future for Singapore,” Lee said. The political succession in Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) appeared to be taking shape from 2018 when Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat was tipped to be the next Prime Minister.

But in April 2021, Heng, then 60 years old, stepped aside as a candidate for the top job, citing his age as the reason. PAP has ruled the city-state ever since independence. After a year of deliberation, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong was named the successor and, shortly after, he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister. The 51-year-old will be appointed Prime Minister when Lee steps down. The transition comes 12 years after Lee pronounced in 2012 that he did not want to be Prime Minister beyond the age of 70, according to a report by Channel News Asia.

Karachi: Lawless Streets

While the state authorities have been busy shifting responsibility, the criminals have been on a rampage on the streets of Karachi.

by Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

On April 9, 2024, the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) released a report on street crimes in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh. The report revealed that as many as 22,627 crimes were reported in the city in the first three months (January-March) of 2024. During this period, 154 people lost their lives in various incidents, including 59 people who lost their lives while resisting robberies in the port city. 373 cars, 15,968 motorcycles and 6,102 mobile phones were snatched or stolen in Karachi during this period. The CPLC report further said that 25 incidents of extortion and five incidents of kidnapping for ransom were reported in Karachi.

AIG Imran Yaqoob Minhas [File Photo/ News International]

On April 8, 2024, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) noted with concern that the state of law and order in Karachi has “deteriorated alarmingly”. Data presented before a high-level security meeting during the first week of April 2024 showed more than 250 persons in Karachi were shot dead and another 1,052 were wounded by street criminals between January 2022 and March 28, 2024. In a post on social media platform X, HRCP noted, ”Tens of thousands of street crimes were registered by the police in 2023, in which over a hundred people lost their lives. The first quarter of 2024 has followed the same pattern.” HRCP pointed out that retaliatory vigilantism and increased brutality by citizens in response to the crime wave was “not the answer”, and added that the government’s failure to address rising crime levels was “shocking”. “The underlying factors such as economic desperation and unemployment need to be addressed urgently as well,” HRCP stressed.

On April 7, 2024, Karachi Police chief Additional Inspector General (AIG) Imran Yaqoob disclosed that the crime rate in the city was recorded at 166 cases per day in 2024. Earlier, the single day highest crime rate was at 140 cases per day in 2023, as disclosed by the then AIG Karachi Javed Alam Odho on February 4.

On April 10, 2024, AIG Yaqoob stated that the majority of the persons committing crimes in the city were outsiders, including those from interior Sindh and Balochistan. He added that approximately 400,000 ‘professional’ beggars and criminal elements turn to Karachi during Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr, and that not only do these beggars pose a challenge, but criminal elements also take advantage of the festive atmosphere to commit crimes. Yaqoob highlighted, further, that the documented population in Karachi is relatively low compared to the actual population, estimated to be between 25 and 30 million people. “With such a staggering number, it becomes a challenge for law enforcement agencies to keep a close watch on all individuals,” he added.

Meanwhile, according to the performance report presented to the Sindh Police chief Rifat Mukhtar Raja on January 2, 2024, at least 21 Police personnel from the Sindh Police lost their lives in the line of duty in encounters during coordinated efforts against street crimes and terrorism across Sindh in 2023. The report highlighted the significant impact of Police action, resulting in the elimination of 1,726 criminal gangs through 3,158 Police encounters across various Police ranges in the Province. In Karachi range alone, 10,449 suspects, one terrorist, one target killer, one robber, 20 highway robbers, 23 kidnappers, along with 1,515 criminals and 9,090 fugitives, were arrested in 1,080 Police encounters.

However, on April 9, 2024, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Karachi In-charge Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Raja Umar Khattab accused the Sindh Home Ministry of ‘non-cooperation’ on weapons’ supply line data in Karachi. In an exclusive interview with ARY News, Raja Umar Khattab disclosed that Inspector General (IG) Sindh tasked CTD to disrupt the weapons’ supply line in the province, especially in Karachi, but “despite numerous attempts, the Sindh Home Ministry failed in sharing data.” The CTD head reportedly claimed that investigations revealed that weapons in Karachi were being provided by 17 weapons’ dealers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Illegal weapons were being trafficked to Karachi by crossing two provinces via transport, for deliveries on online orders. Khattab said street criminals in Karachi had the bulk of illegal weapons and they shared them with each other, for street crimes. Raja Umar Khattab further reveals that around 70 per cent of illegal weapons were smuggled Karachi with the mediation of online channels. He further claimed that the majority of ‘government employees’ were part of the arms supply fraud.

A spike in crime incidents in Karachi has stirred fears of insurgents regaining a foothold in Karachi. Indeed, CTD’s Raja Umar Khattab emphasised that the rise in extortion cases in Karachi was an indicator of Taliban’s (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP) growing presence in Karachi.

However, while street crime continues to stalk the province, terrorism-related incidents have declined. Terrorism-related incidents were at an all-time low in the first three and half months of 2024.  According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), Karachi recorded nine fatalities [seven civilians, one Security Force (SF) trooper and one militant] in six terrorism related incidents in 2024, as compared to 18 fatalities (seven civilians, four SF personnel and seven militants) in eight terrorism related incidents during the corresponding period of 2023, a decline of 50 per cent.

On April 10, 2024, amid rising incidents of street crimes, extortion, and abductions in the province, particularly in Karachi, Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah blamed the previous caretaker Government for the deteriorating law and order situation. Responding to a question, Shah claimed that the law-and-order situation worsened due to a major reshuffle in the Police department by the caretaker government ahead of the February 8, 2024, general elections. He claimed,

This reshuffle affected the entire policing system, from additional inspector generals (AIGs) to station house officers (SHOs). However, the government is taking strict measures to improve the overall law and order situation, including in Karachi, rural areas, and particularly in the katcha area.

Not surprisingly, on April 9, 2014, a senior leader of the main opposition party in Sindh, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Mustafa Kamal demanded that Karachi be handed over to the Pakistan Army for three months. “Karachi should be handed over to the army for three months as the Sindh government is not serious in providing protection to the life and property of citizens,” Kamal stated. It is notable that the Pakistan Rangers (Sindh), a para-military force, had been deployed in Karachi since 1989. On April 5, 2024, Pakistan Rangers Director General (DG) sought special policing powers for the whole of Sindh, amid the deteriorating law-and-order situation in the province.

On April 6, 2024, as violent street crimes surged, the Sindh High Court (SHC) set a one-month deadline for the provincial authorities to restore law-and-order in the province. Justice Abbasi also directed authorities to take strict action against “influential persons” who were involved in sabotaging the law-and-order administration.

While the state authorities have been busy shifting responsibility, the criminals have been on a rampage on the streets of Karachi. This is a replay of the decade of 1990s, and it was only after the intervention of the Army and some heavy handed and indiscriminate operations that the rampant gangs of Karachi were brought under control. There is evident backsliding once again, and the costs of recovery will, once again, be heavy.

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty is a Counter-terrorism Expert on Pakistan at Institute for Conflict Management (ICM) in New Delhi

Kerala: Peripheral Risks

The State Police forces have been successful in containing the Maoist threat in Kerala, but existing critical gaps in capacities and deployment of the Kerala Police indicate potential future susceptibilities.

by Deepak Kumar Nayak

On April 12, 2024, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court at Kochi in Ernakulam District sentenced four cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) to rigorous imprisonment (RI).  The four were convicted on April 9, 2024, in connection with a 2014 case relating to assault, threat and arson, etc., against a senior officer of the Kerala Police. Accused Roopesh was sentenced to 10 years RI along with an INR 235,000 fine; Kanyakumari received six years RI with an INR 105,000 fine. Both of them were convicted under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Anoop, who was convicted only under the UAPA, was sentenced to eight years RI with a fine of INR 60,000; while Ibrahim has also been punished for offences under the same law to six years RI and a fine of INR 40,000. The case against the accused is that on April 24, 2014, they barged into the house of A.B. Pramod, a civil Police officer, threatened him, and set ablaze his vehicle. The accused attacked Pramod for giving information about Maoists to high-ranking Police officials. The case was originally registered by the Vellamunda Police on April 24, 2014, and re-registered by the NIA on January 2, 2016.

A file photo of Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Photo: AFP

Meanwhile, one Maoist-related incident has been recorded in the state since in the beginning of year 2024. On February 17, a 61-year-old wanted CPI-Maoist cadre, Suresh aka Pradeep, was arrested during a combing operation in the Kanjirakolli Forest area in Kannur District. Suresh was wanted in many cases, and the Police of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu had been searching for him for several years.

Security Forces (SFs) arrested 53 Maoists in the state since March 6, 2000, when the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) started compiling data on Naxalite [Left Wing Extremism, LWE] violence, including three in 2023 and the above mention one in 2024 (data till April 14).

No surrender of Maoists has been reported in 2024. The State recorded its first and only surrender on October 25, 2021, when P. Lijesh aka Ramu, a senior CPI-Maoist leader, surrendered without arms, before Superintendent of Police (SP) Aravind Sukumar in the Wayanad District. Ashok Yadav, Inspector General of Police (IGP), North Zone, had disclosed, “Lijesh is the first Maoist cadre to surrender in the State after the Surrender and Rehabilitation scheme announced by the State Government in 2018.” No surrender had been reported prior to the announcement of the Rehabilitation scheme in 2018.

SFs have eliminated at least 10 Naxalites [Left Wing Extremists] since March 6, 2000, including one in 2023. On December 29, 2023, a woman CPI-Maoist leader, Lakshmi aka Kavitha, succumbed to her injuries at Aralam in the forest area in Kannur District. A set of posters in the name of Maoists claimed that she was seriously injured during the encounter that took place on November 13 at Ayyankunnu in Kannur District. The posters also declared that the Maoist group would avenge her death.

According to partial data collated by SATP, the State has not recorded any fatality in the civilian and SF categories in LWE-linked violence since March 6, 2000, (data till April 14, 2024).

The Naxalites have only been able to orchestrate 19 violent incidents in the state since March 6, 2000, including one explosion. On March 5, 2017, a high-intensity blast damaged property and blew up a mud house on the fringe of a forest in Chappamala in Kottiyoor, a Naxalite-affected area in Kannur District. No casualty was reported in the blast. Four incidents of arson have been reported since March 6, 2000: one each in 2020 and 2015, and two in 2014. The Maoists abducted six persons in two sperate incidents: three in 2015 and another three in 2018. Further, 12 acts of vandalization by Maoists have been reported: one in 2003, five in 2014, four in 2015, one in 2020 and one in 2023.

Meanwhile, SFs foiled Maoist designs and recovered arms and ammunition on one occasion in 2023, in addition to another such incident in 2020. Since March 6, 2000, at least six such incidents have been recorded in the State.

SFs also recovered Posters/Pamphlets/Literature on three occasions in 2023, in addition to one such incident in 2022. Since March 6, 2000, at least 32 such incidents have been recorded in the State.

According to the SATP database, based on underground and over-ground activities of the Maoists in 2023, one District (Kannur) in the state was categorised as moderately affected; while two (Kozhikode and Wayanad), were marginally affected. In 2022, just two Districts (Kozhikode and Wayanad) were marginally affected.

Meanwhile, the NIA which in January 2024 took over the case involving Sanjay Deepak Rao aka Vijay Rao (60), the ‘central committee member’, who was arrested in Hyderabad on September 13, 2023, found during investigations that Rao, in charge of the ‘Western Ghats Special Zone Committee (WGSZC)’, was actively working for the CPI-Maoist in the tri-junction area of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. The NIA thus alleged,

 Under his direction, other frontline members of CPI (Maoist) were operating in the urban areas of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala to promote the activities of the outfit.

Under his direction, other frontline members of CPI (Maoist) were operating in the urban areas of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala to promote the activities of the outfit.

Sanjay Deepak Rao had taken over the leadership of the Maoists in Kerala, heading the outfit’s Western Ghats operations, after the death of senior leader Manivasagam in an encounter in 2020.

 Moreover, on March 25, 2024, the NIA took over the probe from the Police, into the shootout that took place between four CPI-Maoist cadres and the Kerala Police at the Chapparam Colony near Periya in Wayanad District of Kerala on November 7, 2023, following the directives of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA), to uncover Maoist activities in the forest areas of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Though no casualty was reported in the incident, two Maoists were arrested: Chandru of Tamil Nadu and Unnimaya of Karnataka. The other two managed to escape. An unnamed NIA source disclosed,

Chandru and Unnimaya are wanted in other cases too. Their interrogation will be vital in uncovering Maoist activities in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka forests. Besides, lookout notices will be issued for two others, Sundari and Latha, who managed to escape after a gunfight with Thunderbolt commandos.

Meanwhile, according to a March 21, 2024, report, the Karnataka Police said that Maoist leader Vikram Gowda was spotted in a village in Kodagu, which borders Kerala. Gowda is a native of Hebri in Udupi, Karnataka, but is known to operate from Kerala. However, the Karnataka Police said that they had initiated investigations and deployed personnel after evidence emerged of Maoist activity in forests in the districts of Kodagu and Hassan. Further, the Police stated that vigilance in the areas close to the tri-junction forests of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala have been heightened since the twin encounters between suspected Maoist groups and the Kerala Police Thunderbolts special forces team. The first encounter was in Thalappuzha in Wayanad District of Kerala on November 7, 2023, followed by one at Karikkottakary in the Kannur District of Kerala, on November 13, 2023. No casualty was reported in either incident.

The State Police forces have been successful in containing the Maoist threat in Kerala, but existing critical gaps in capacities and deployment of the Kerala Police indicate potential future susceptibilities. According to the latest Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) data, as on January 1, 2022, Kerala had 149.60 Police personnel per 100,000 population, which is below the inadequate national average of 152.80. Further, with a sanctioned strength of 61,474, the State Police has just 53,216 personnel in position, a deficit of 13.43 per cent. The sanctioned strength of the apex Indian Police Service (IPS) Officers in the State was 172, but just 116 officers were in position, a deficit of 32.55 per cent.

Certainly, the Kerala Police has done extremely well in containing the Maoist menace. The Maoist influence, moreover, has been shrinking in neighbouring states as well. Nevertheless, given the Maoists past capacities to engineer a revival, there is no scope for complacence, particularly in view of intensive effort by the Maoists in the KKT tri-junction region.

Deepak Kumar Nayak, Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi, India