Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tech city turns fortress on New Year’s eve

Tech city turns fortress on New Year’s eve

Police don’t want to take any chances as a letter claims that suicide bombers are in Bangalore to disrupt the celebrations

Daily News and Analysis

A letter warning of suicide attacks on New Year’s eve prompted the Bangalore police to call out reinforcements and turn the tech hub into a fortress.

Police are taking no chances even as they promised Bangaloreans that they can let their hair down to bid 2005 adieu. “Bangalore can celebrate the New Year in peace,” Police Commissioner Ajai Kumar Singh said on Friday.
The force, still groping for answers to Wednesday’s attack on the Indian Institute of Science, was diverted to look for bombs at five places, including the IBM campus, following what turned out to be hoax calls.

An additional 60 platoons of police personnel, about 4,000 civil police officers, and three quick reaction teams with eight army commandos each were deployed after local newspapers received an unsigned fax that six terrorists, including two human bombs, would strike on Saturday.

“Does any terrorist inform two days in advance of an attack?” the police chief said. “But we are not taking any chances.”

He denied receiving the letter addressed to him by one Moinuddin. The letter said Chief Minister N Dharam Singh’s residence and the adjoining Grand Ashok Hotel would be attacked.

Meanwhile, police released a sketch of the gunman who killed a former IIT Delhi professor and injured five people by shooting indiscriminately with an AK-56 rifle. Central police agencies held one person in Bangalore and several in Hyderabad for questioning in connection with the attack.

Singh said his men are in touch with police in Rajasthan, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kashmir. Some teams have also been sent to other states. He did not elaborate.

The threat perception may have gone up at the IISc, but turning it into a fortress is a nightmare for the academic world, the institute’s director, P Balaram, said.

“By its very definition the ambience of the university will be lost if you convert it into an armed fortress,” he said. “Along with high security come many other problems like those of access and freedom.”


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