Pickled Politics was one of the first blogs to react to the Delhi blasts, but I thought I’d wait a little before talking about the Bangalore shooting, which took place on Wednesday, so that I might be able to collect some more information.
A college professor was killed by a gunman (gunmen?) who has escaped capture; four were injured. Bangalore has not been targetted in this manner before and the Indian Institute of Science, the location of the shooting, and the city have been taken by surprise. But warning signs were there.
Initial thoughts to explain the target of Bangalore centred around Lashkar-e-Toiba group, responsible for numerous previous attacks or less well known Bangladesh-based terror groups. Some thought the fact that notorious gangster Abu Salem’s arrival in BLR to face polygraph tests and questioning about his involvement in the 1993 Bombay blasts may be related, but authorities soon denied this.
Yesterday Karnataka’s chief minister, N. Dharam Singh, confirmed that the attacks were the work of terrorists, chiefly due to the discovery of sophisticated munitions found; an AK-57, AK-47 casings, an empty automatic magazine and four unexploded grenades were recovered from the scene.
It was subsequently revealed that the government of Karnataka received a warning of a terrorist attack, from the Intelligence Bureau, which had been monitoring LeT operatives in New Delhi. They also considered Jamat-e-Mujaheeddin a threat. However, no information obtained would have been useful in preventing the attack.
But why Bangalore and why the IISc?
LeT has actually been planning an attack on BLR for four years, according to The Hindu. The first target, in 2001, was Azim Premji’s farmhouse (Premji is head of Wipro), but it is believed that plans were abandoned as LeT were unable to recruit locals. That didn’t really stop 9/11 did it? Doesn’t seem like a genuine reason. What’s more likely is they have simply been gathering information about the city since then. Irrespective, several LeT suspects and/or members have been arrested in relation to trips to Bangalore over the last few years.
Deputy Commissioner of Police and chief of the New Delhi anti-terrorist cell, Ajay Kumar, had also warned that Hyderabad and Bangalore were likely to be future targets for terrorist attacks. A key suspect interrogated by Kumar had claimed to have been trained by the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence in Balochistan and Bangladesh. He said he had been told to attack one of BLR’s software parks. Other recent arrests were three suspected terrorists from Bangalore, West Bengal and Bangladesh. However, none of the leads police had prior to Wednesday had mentioned IISc.
The chief reason Bangalore has become a target seems simple jealousy. Bangalore has become India’s flagship city, with Asia’s silicon valley and property prices akin to Kensington. Its burgeoning and world-renowned IT industry is emblematic of ‘India Shining’. TIME magazine today asked “Is Outsourcing the Next Terror Target?” and calls the shooting a symbolic attack on India’s economic success.
IISc itself is a key cog in India’s missile technology development. Indeed, many defence and strategic programmes have been deliberately located in Bangalore over many years for one reason – it is further from Pakistan and China than Delhi. The IISc is also home to the National Institute of Advanced Studies, which works closely with the department of defence.
What is clear is that Bangalore and the businesses situated therein are completely unprepared for this sort of assault. Whilst the city is on high alert now, security will have to be beefed up across Bangalore, as it will remain a target for some time.
The Wall Street Journal says:
22% of Americans think Saddam Hussein helped plan 9/11
26% of Americans believe Iraq had WMDs
24% of Americans think some of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi
56% of Americans think Iraqis are doing better than they were under Hussein – I would’ve expected this one to be higher actually.
These figures, though still mind-boggling, are actually down significantly from February, when almost 50% thought Hussein planned 9/11. Astonishing.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, recently named one of INDIA TODAY’s 30 Living Legends (and one of the few Indian politicians I particularly admire) has announced his retirement.
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Filed in: Current affairs,India,South Asia,The World