Terrorism affects science capital
By Maxwell Pereira

The terrorist strike in the City shatters the myth of South being out of the ISI’s designs.

South India has actually been no stranger to planned or organised terrorist attacks. One could recall the Coimbatore blasts of the late 1990s and then the carefully orchestrated attacks on Christian Churches in Karnataka and Goa by the Bhim-darey Anshuman.

Even so, the myth of peninsular India being insulated from the ISI-backed terrorist scanner stood effectively blasted when the Delhi Police in March 2005 arrested two members of a terrorist module in Uttamnagar, West Delhi. In their interrogation, for the first time it was revealed that they had actually surveyed Bangalore for targeting the software industry here.

Then some more terrorist links picked up by the Delhi Police recently during the investigations following the recent pre-Diwali Delhi blasts, had again indicated that Bangalore and Hyderabad are being actively viewed by terrorists as potential targets. These interrogation disclosures have been further corroborated by inputs from various technical surveillance and interceptions by the Intelligence services.

Govt is to blame

A section of the media has already put the Bangalore Police and the Karnataka government on the mat for ignoring and not acting upon specific intelligence inputs received — at least three of them immediately prior to this attack — which reportedly sounded the alarm for Bangalore. Chief Minister Dharam Singh is seen defending his government though, saying there has been no security lapse, whatever precautions that could be taken had been ensured; it is unfortunate that the attack happened despite the measures taken!

The December 28 terrorist attack in Bangalore has, however, sent confusing signals. Especially since an attack on academia, scientists, places of learning and of research, is totally a new dimension, such plans not having found mention hitherto in either the intelligence inputs, nor during interrogation of arrested terrorists.

The confusion is further confounded with the emerging facts — the uncertainty over the actual number of perpetrators involved — with conflicting reports emanating from different sources and authorities! There is confusion over whether it was a lone perpetrator, or an operator backed by a group of terrorists as is being speculated. What is definite appears to be that at least one person emerged from the parking lot carrying a bag armed with an AK-56 and three grenades, and escaped after lobbing the grenade and spraying a volley of bullets on those coming out of the auditorium.

Pattern points at Laskar

While the presence of the AK-56 and grenades would strongly indicate that it is a terrorist attack, the modus operandi and solo style of operation does put a question mark on actual terrorist involvement! Going by patterns of previous terrorist attacks, analysts are likely to point a finger at the Laskar-e-Toiba, who are known to operate in modules of two and indulge in guerilla attacks, unlike the Jaish-e-Mohammed, whose modules normally are in numbers five or six.

Of course, the citizenry and particularly it’s watchdog, the media, like usual, would expect the police and the administration to pull out the chestnuts from the fire with the snap of a finger, and literally be magicians. And so the cries of “police groping in the dark” are already renting the air! One would need to be a bit more realistic.

Had the intelligence reports been that specific, perhaps the attack could have been prevented? The fact that it could not be prevented would obviously render the task of the investigators akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. It is here that the Bangalore Police would need to show their investigative acumen - be it in collecting, collating, and analysing clues that would lead them to arrest the perpetrator/s and measure up with suitable steps to prevent such attacks in future.

A page from the books of Delhi Police who have a reputation for solving every one of their blast cases, could perhaps be a challenge of some help?

(The writer is former Joint Commissioner, Delhi Police.)

January 2, 2006:Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com


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