MonitorsPublished on Jun 01, 2009
Sri Lanka celebrated Victory Day at Galle Face Green in capital Colombo on June 3 to mark its victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, praised the soldiers for their sustained efforts in wiping out the Tigers.
South Asia Weekly Report 74

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Sri Lanka celebrates Victory Day to mark LTTE’s demise

Sri Lanka celebrated Victory Day at Galle Face Green in capital Colombo on June 3 to mark its victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, praised the soldiers for their sustained efforts in wiping out the Tigers. Starting his speech with a few lines in Tamil, Rajapaksa assured Tamil community of protection and all possible help in integrating with the mainstream society. He added that he has fulfilled his promise for the future generations by removing the burden of war.

Rajapaksa also said that Sri Lanka will follow a new diplomatic strategy to bring in a ‘new era’ in the island nation’s foreign relations. The Sri Lankan President took a dig at the western powers, who have been threatening a war crimes probe against the Lankan army, by pointedly thanking only the Asian, Arabian and African world for their “wholehearted support throughout the war”.          
< class="maroontitle">Maoists rake up border issue to inflame passions

Fresh wave of demonstrations in several Tarai districts and allegations of Indian encroachment of Nepali land in Dang and Bara districts along the India-Nepal border area have upped the political temperature in Nepal. The Nepali media alleged that the Indian border security force, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), drove out more than 6000 villagers and Nepali families living in several bordering villages of Dang district. Out of the 6000 villagers, 1,800 took refuge at the Satbariya community forest of Deukhuri in Dang after the SSB personnel encroached upon their land and torched their homes. The SSB personnel have also been accused of molesting womenfolk of these villages.

The alleged incident has received widespread attention in Nepal. The Maoists were the first to grab the opportunity to start anti-India campaigns. They held a demonstration in front of the Indian Embassy at Kathmandu chanting slogans. They also demanded the Indian government should immediately “return all Nepali lands seized by India”. While the other political parties also condemned the incident and termed it as an attack on Nepal’s sovereignty, they, however, have urged the Nepal government to resolve the dispute with India through diplomatic means.

The Nepal government, despite the pressure on it, refused to comment on the incident till official verification by a fact-finding team of Constituent Assembly members. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has also assured the political parties and all Nepali citizens that the government would take diplomatic initiatives to resolve the border dispute with India. India has, however, strongly refuted about the said allegations and termed the reports appearing in the Nepali press as completely baseless. Meanwhile, political analysts have cautioned that the Maoists may try to invoke nationalistic feelings to gain sympathy for the party and may exploit the Dang incident.

< class="maroontitle">Has the ULFA chief been ousted out of Bangladesh?

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader and former legislator Nasir Uddin Ahmed Pintu was arrested for his alleged involvement in the mutiny of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR). Pintu has been accused of instigating the mutineers and helping them in fleeing from the scene of the massacre in which over  70 people lost their lives. Pintu’s arrest once more fanned speculations about a deeper conspiracy behind the BDR carnage. The BNP, however, condemned the arrest as politically motivated.

In another development, mafia don Dawood Ibrahim’s network in Bangladesh was unearthed after the arrest of Abdur Rahman Daud Merchant, a close associate of Dawood’s deputy Chhota Shakeel. Merchant fled India after he was released on parole in March 2009. He was convicted of killing music baron Gulshan Kumar.

Law enforcement agencies claimed that there are at least 150 Dawood operatives were active in the country and around 50 of them have been identified. Surprisingly, Daud Merchant was able to acquire Bangladeshi passport and birth certificate. It is believed that Dawood’s gang enjoys good relationship with some businessmen of the country.

Meanwhile, a recent report claimed that Paresh Barua, leader of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), has left Bangladesh and was residing in China. The report said that Baruah was forced to leave Bangladesh after the government initiated an investigation into the Chittagong arms haul. Ten truckloads of arms and ammunitions were seized in 2004, which were brought into the country via the sea route for ULFA. The investigations exposed the involvement of country’s intelligence agencies and a foreign embassy in this. Two former chiefs of National Security Intelligence (NSI) were also arrested in this connection.

< class="maroontitle">Number of Maldivian students going to Pakistan declines

The number of Maldivian students going to Pakistan to study in Madrassas has declined, revealed a report released by the Maldivian Ministry of Human Resources, Sports and Youth. The  report said that students preferred countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt for further studies. The ministry confirmed that despite the arrest of some eleven Maldivians with arms in the North Western Pakistan, which is considered to be the stronghold of the Talibans, the Maldivian policy regarding sending its students to study specialised courses like medicine and Islamic Sharia law in Pakistan has not changed. The ministry, however, maintained that the students would be sent only to those schools and colleges that have the approval of the Maldives Accreditation Board. It has also denied having any knowledge of the Maldivian students involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan. It is to be noted that in recent months, Pakistan has closed down several Madrassas that were teaching Islamic fundamentalism. Being a country that does not have a university, it becomes imperative for the Maldivian students to go to other countries, especially Pakistan, to obtain a first degree to qualify for universities in Saudi Arabia.

< class="maroontitle">Lashkar Chief Hafiz Saeed released

Jamaatud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, accused of masterminding the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, was released by the Lahore High Court on Tuesday (2nd June) on grounds of insufficient evidence. Pakistan Government’s insistence on not charging the accused under the more severe Anti-Terrorism Law meant that the release was inevitable. After strong protests lodged by India, the government of Pakistan has appealed against the release.

JuD, recognised by the United Nations as a front of the radical Lashkar -e-Tayeeba (LeT), continues to carry out attacks on India, as is evident in the recent surge of militant activity in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been credited to LeT.  Its sister organisation, the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation carried out relief work for refugees in the North West Frontier Province. JuD’s approach of not engaging Pakistani security forces in the Frontier and elsewhere, while retaining its terrorist infrastructure aimed against India, brings out Pakistan’s duplicity in its campaign against terrorism.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                 –   Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee –   Bangladesh
      • Paul Soren                       –   Nepal, Bhutan
      • Wilson John                     –   Pakistan
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