January 2, 2006
A suspected militant raid on one of India's top science universities
has confirmed fears that the country's booming information technology
sector could be a new target for terror groups, officials and analysts
A professor was shot dead and four other people were wounded last week
when an unidentified gunman drove on to the Indian Institute of
Science (IISc) campus in the southern city of Bangalore, India's tech
capital, and opened indiscriminate fire from an automatic rifle
outside a conference hall.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack on what security
experts said is a "soft target".
But the nature of the attack - the use of a Kalashnikov rifle to open
fire randomly and the recovery of unexploded grenades and cartridges
from the site - points to anti-Indian Islamist militant groups, they
"Whatever information is coming out of Bangalore shows that one of
these groups is responsible," said B. Raman, a former head of the
Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency.
"Although the damage was not much, it was a very daring attack. Unless
there is evidence to the contrary, I would believe this is the work of
jihadi groups," he said, referring to Muslim militants fighting Indian
rule in disputed Kashmir.
India has been a victim of separatist violence for decades and
Kashmiri militants have struck regularly in the disputed Himalayan
region as well as at targets in northern India, including in the
capital, New Delhi, since the 1990s.
India has long accused arch rival Pakistan - with which it is locked
in a decades-old dispute over Kashmir - of aiding the militants and
sending them across the border. Islamabad denies the charge.
While southern India has largely been peaceful during this period,
intelligence agencies have warned over the past two years that
Islamist militants were making inroads in the south, setting up cells
and recruiting sympathisers.
Bangalore and the rival tech centres of Hyderabad and Chennai were
prime targets as they were symbols of India's technological might and
economic progress, analysts said.
A city of 6.5 million people, Bangalore alone is home to more than
1,500 technology and back-office firms, among them dozens of global
giants such as Intel, Motorola and IBM, and is now known as 'India's
The firms account for a third of India's $17.2 billion software
industry and employ about one million people. Several Indian defence,
space and scientific research institutions are also based in
"The country is waking up to a new reality - its success in IT and
concomitant economic boom has excited malice in certain quarters, who
would like to attack symbols of that success," the Times of India
wrote in an editorial on Friday.
"Within the frame of this inchoate rage against modernity, an
international conference of scientists is also a target," it said
referring to the shooting at the IISc.
While hard targets such as government offices and defence
establishments are well protected, security at technology firms and
institutions is in now way comparable, experts said.
Following the Bangalore shooting, IT firms would need to boost
'physical security' at their facilities while government agencies
should strengthen intelligence gathering and destroy militant cells
before they could strike, they said.
"The Indian IT industry ... already has in place many security
measures," the National Association of Software and Service Companies
(NASSCOM), the leading industry body, said in a statement after the
"This incident emphasises the need to review and upgrade these.
NASSCOM and the IT industry will work, in collaboration with the
police and government, towards tightening security measures to create
a safer working environment for the industry," it said.
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