Thursday, December 29, 2005

IISc attack: Sad day for science

Army establishments.
National monuments.
Political figures.
These were the original terrorist targets.

But this didn't instil fear in the common man, so they started attacking places of worship, railway stations, cinemas,random marketplaces.

And now, they choose to attack a scientific establishment.

CNN IBN reports: An armed intruder opened fire at the Indian Institute of Science premises in Bangalore on Wednesday evening, killing former professor of IIT Delhi MC Puri and injuring four others. Intelligence sources says the attack may be linked to Abu Salem's presence in the city.

The intruder, came in an Ambassador car around 1845 hrs (IST) and started firing indiscriminately near the Tata Auditorium where a seminar, International Conference on Management Studies was being held. Professor Puri was among the 250 professors attending the seminar.

A symbolic target? Or just a soft and easy one. A kid who's just passed the K G level in terrorist training can be entrusted a rifle and let loose on such a campus. A campus where brain is at a much higher premium than brawn.

I mean, sure, there would be some routine security checks at the gate but who seriously believes that a bunch of scientists gathered to discuss string theory or particle physics could be of interest to the Lashkar-e-toiba?

Laymen envision all scientists as variations of Einstein. Unfortunately not all scientists are that photogenic - most look rather ordinary, and could have been working in State Bank of India except they dress shabbier and attend office on Sundays of their own free will.

Well, at least that's how scientists are at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, where I grew up. Which is also why the IISc shooting is something that touches me very personally.

My dad is the same age as Dr M C Puri - Professor Emeritus from IIT Delhi - who was killed in the attack. He often attends similar conferences, the kind which are of no interest to anyone but people who've devoted decades of their lives to enlarging the body of knowledge in a particular esoteric field.

You come away from these conferences with embossed pens, pads and a little rucksack/ jhola/ carrybag which reads: "High Energy Cosmic Ray Conference blah blah blah."

And of course people will now say: why was there no security? But although there was talk of scientific establishments being possible targets, army-like security was a little alien to the laidback culture on these campuses. But that will change now...

The question is: how many soft targets can you eliminate? How hard would it be to enter IIT Bombay tomorrow and open fire at the crowd gathered for LiveWire?? Even if everyone is frisked and cars searched at the point of entry, the low boundary wall makes it easy for anyone to enter.

But right now, no need to even exert that much. As one IITian I was chatting with on messenger as I wrote this remarked: "Currently you could actually slip in with a carload of ammunition (into IIT) without being frisked at the gate..."

May Dr Puri's soul rest in peace.
And may these senseless killings end.

Because life is precious. More precious than any abstract ideology. Or concrete cause.Any motherland or fatherland. Any zid, jehad or junoon.


  1. Yesterday, there was a bomb hoax also in campus of one IT company on Banerghatta Road. IT and Science is becoming soft targets for terrorists. They can create more panic by attacking such establishments. All our colleges and institutes like IISC never had good security arrangements. Its high time Government provides proper security to all such places.

  2. The immediate reaction is to fortify places. But how many can we fortify and for how long? The next question in the mind is "why is it happening, how can we change this?"

    For a country with so many religions and tolerance record, how this ugly black pit called terrorism come to stay?

    Mine is not a loney voice, there are so many out there , wondering helplessly. Can't we all join together and look for solutions at the grass root level? I am sure there are ways to curb these acts of hate. Shall we all explore together?

  3. It's a fact that in the near future we'll have to live with this menace called Terrorism. Yesterday a Prof was called, a month back many were killed in Delhi. And finally what happened....nothing but one more attack. And many more to come. And unlike US or Isreal we are still caught with the our hands tied...Must we wait till we bleed to death...

  4. Why only the IISC, IITs and IIMs ..this holds true for any institution imparting education in India..imagine tomorrow terrorists barging into a primary school...what would happen..well the consequences will only be too grave to think off..We live in a very fickle world...we dont know what happens next and where ...

  5. I was terribly shaken when I read this news. Imagine what would have happened if something similar had happened at Parliament? That would have become an International news. This is how we respect Intellectuals in our country. This may be news today, but tomorrow people will start talking of sensex growing up or party celebrations. If we trace down the issues to the grass roots, shouldn't we step up security at the points where people can come in? (Airports, seaports, borders etc). Our corrupt officials get bribes and let in people with fake passports, illegal documents and such illegal immigrants may end up as such criminals. On top of all this, I fail to understand, how some people who were born and brought up in our country, get conditioned by those illegal immigrants and are ready to bomb or attack people/places in our country? Shouldn't country welfare be put before religion? Any answers please?

  6. Don't agree with venkat!
    Not all the terror that takes place in our country is religious in nature. The entire militancy in North-east, the MCC, The some extent LTTE is driven by various ideologies nothing to do with religion. And i condemn all of them, irrespective of any great ideal or religious reasons. Every movement starts with good ideals and intentions, but if the means are wrong (i.e. violence), they nevertheless degenarate to the levels we see today. And finally hurt the same group which had espoused it in the first place. Gandhiji was Right! an eye for an eye will lead to the whole world becoming blind.

  7. I was at Livewire today and the security was pretty heavy,as expected.Cars were being checked too - how thoroughly I don't know.But yeah, you're right about how relatively easy it would've been for something to happen today - there are quite a few ways of getting in unnoticed, thanks to the low boundary walls and the vegetation.

  8. I my self belong to IITB and trust me the security is no way competent to avoid such incident happening there also.One can easily get into the campus from any of the 6 odds gates present there and can as easily get out carrying whatever they want in their bag.

    There are odd checking of bags once in a blue moon but with college boundry touching the main road,one can easily pass the bag to his conterpart through the boundry wall.In fact this is the way most of IITians brings Booze into the campus fooling the guards.

    But looking at other side of picture,it is not possible and even feasable to provide high security at all places.So as such i think we had to live under threat always.

  9. Thanx Terrorists for not hurting small babies this time

  10. IISc was just another target. we can only speculate their motive for picking IISc this time.

    These elements can pick any of a number of targets just to make a point..

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