S. Binodkumar Singh Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management
On February 8, 2017, six employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were shot dead by terrorists of the Islamic State (IS, formerly, Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, also Daesh) in the Qoshtapa District of Jawzjan Province. After the killing, ICRC suspended its operations in Afghanistan on February 9, 2017.
Sindh: Fragile Peace
Baba Ladla alias Noor Muhammad, the notorious Lyari gangster who carried a reward of PKR three million, was killed on February 1, 2017, during a shootout with Rangers personnel in the Lyari Town area of Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh. Two of Baba Ladla's close associates, Sikandar aka Sikko and Mohammad Yaseen aka Mama, were also killed in the encounter. During the operation, Head Constable Fayyaz and Constable Tufail were also killed. One Kalashnikov, two 9mm pistols and a hand grenade were also recovered from their possession. The "most wanted" suspects had been involved in numerous terrorist incidents, according to a Press Release issued by the Rangers: "Baba Ladla was wanted in more than 74 crimes by Police."
Maharashtra: A Fading Red
On January 12, 2017, two civilians, Ramesh Atala (27) and Manohar Atala (55), were killed by Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres in Gadchiroli District. A Gadchiroli Police statement disclosed that the Maoists shot the victims claiming they were 'police informers'.
FATA: Smouldering Fire
Registering the first violent incident of the year in the region, 25 people were killed and more than 87 were injured in a bomb blast at the Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market) area of Parachinar in the Kurram Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the morning of January 21, 2017. A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the improvised explosive device (IED) blast took place at 08:50am PST. Government official Shahid Khan stated that the explosion took place when the market was crowded with retailers buying fruits and vegetables. In a text message sent to journalists, the al-Alami (International) faction of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed that it, along with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter Shehryar Mehsud group, carried out the attack. The Shehryar Mehsud group did not independently claim the bombing.
Articulating new hopes of prosperity, coexistence and reconciliation, President Maithripala Sirisena, in his New Year message on January 1, 2017, declared, "The year 2017 dawns with new hopes of prosperity, coexistence and reconciliation in our hearts. It is imperative that we overcome the challenges ahead of us. The progress of the human race was pioneered by people who faced challenges with confidence, utmost courage and determination amidst obstacles. Our goals could be achieved if we manage our work efficiently and productively, and do the right thing at the right time with unwavering commitment to serve the greater good." Similarly, the Leader of the Opposition and of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan, in his message of greetings for the New Year, noted, "2017 will be a crucial year in the history of our country. Our expectation is that we should find a permanent and lasting solution to the national question. The new Constitution in the New Year should bring about this achievement."
Though the insurgency has ended in Nepal, political violence continued through 2016. However, not a single insurgency-related fatality was recorded in 2016, and this has been the case since 2013, with not a single insurgency-related fatality on record. At the peak of insurgency, Nepal had seen 4,896 fatalities in 2002 alone, including 3,992 Maoists, 666 Security Force (SF) personnel and 238 civilians.
Koraput: Lingering Threat
On December 22, 2016, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres shot dead one person, identified as G. Appa Rao, at Munuguluwalsa village under the Pottangi Police limits in the Koraput District of Odisha. Appa Rao was the husband of the Naib Sarpanch (deputy head of the Panchayat, the village level local-self government institution) of Talagoluru. The Maoists also set ablaze two tractors and one van belonging to Apparao before leaving the spot.
Latehar: Cyclical Harm
On November 23, 2016, six Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres were killed in an encounter with Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Jharkhand Police, at a remote location inside the Karmadih-Naurnagu Forests under the Chhipadohar Police Station of Latehar District. CRPF, Director General (DG), K. Durga Prasad disclosed, "Two out of the six slain rebels have been identified as 'sub-zonal commander' Deepak Kharwar alias Shailesh Kharwar, who carried a cash reward of Rs, Five Lakh [INR 500,000] on his head, and 'area commander' Nagendra Yadav," and added, further, that the duo was mainly active in Latehar and Lohardaga and used to operate under the directives of Maoist 'zonal commander' Nakul Yadav. The identities of the remaining four Maoists are yet to be ascertained. Giving details on items recovered, Superintendent of Police (SP) Anup Birtharey stated that the Forces recovered one INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifle, two Self-Loading Rifles (SLRs), three .303 rifles, 600 bullets of various calibres and one dozen explosive devices. One carbine was also recovered from the riverbed. He further disclosed that four out of the seven recovered weapons had been looted from the Police on earlier occasions.